Non-League: Round-up

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Luton Town set a new club record as they moved three points clear at the top of the Skrill Premier table. The Hatters extended their unbeaten run in the league to 20 matches, eclipsing the run of 19 games set by the team in the 1960’s.

Manager John Still revealed his pride after seeing his side reach the milestone with a 3-0 win over Nuneaton Town: “I’m part of a team that’s helped create a wonderful feeling with the players and supporters, staff.

“We’ve all helped to create that and it’s wonderful,” he said. “I’m very proud of that, but there are other things that we want to achieve.”

Still added: “People come in and say Cambridge have drawn, but honestly at this stage, it’s not important. As long as we keep doing what we’re doing, this will take care of itself.”

Andre Gray scored a second-half hat-trick at Kenilworth Road as his side continue to strive for promotion back to the football league at the fifth attempt, while second place Cambridge United could only manage a 3-3 draw with relegation threatened Dartford.

FA Cup

Kidderminster Harriers put in a valiant performance in their FA Cup fourth round trip to Premier League Sunderland as they became the final non-league side to exit this year’s competition.
Charis Mavrias scored the only goal for the Black Cats, who put in an otherwise uninspiring performance just four days after reaching the Capital One Cup Final at the expense of Manchester United.

Harriers’ top scorer Michael Gash and debutant Freddie Ladapo, who has also had loan spells at Woking and Nuneaton this season, both had chances to equalise late on but wasted their respective opportunities.

There are plenty of positives for Andy Thorne’s side though. Even before receiving their half share of gate receipts from an attendance of 25,081, Harriers had already earned over £300,000 from this season's FA Cup run. They have picked up £125,000 in prize money alone. And that comes on top of the six-figure sale to Huddersfield Town of Joe Lolley, their third-round replay match-winner at Peterborough.

After the game Thorne said: “I'm immensely proud of my players, I thought they were magnificent. We looked like a League club. If that's not a springboard for our season, then I'll be very disappointed.

“We knew it would be really tough playing a Premier League side and, when we conceded so early, you know you're in danger of ending up with a cricket score. But, for us to be disappointed with not coming away with a draw and getting another crack at them speaks volumes for the performance.

“In the end, their keeper's pulled off a magnificent save to deny Michael Gash and Freddie Ladapo's had another sniff at the end. And that was all the difference between us. It was a proper cup tie. And the fans were unbelievable. They gave us fantastic support.”

Skrill Premier: Top

Cambridge United dropped points for the second time in three games as they threw away a 2-0 lead before eventually drawing 3-3 with second-bottom Dartford.

Ryan Bird scored twice on his U’s debut to give the visitors a two goal advantage inside a quarter of an hour, but the Darts struck back through Elliot Bradbrook’s penalty and Max Cornhill’s header.

Danny Harris then gave the home side a shock lead, while goalkeeper Alan Julian kept them ahead – saving Ashley Chamber’s penalty – but Luke Berry’s late header earned the promotion chasers a point.

Richard Money’s side now sit three points behind league leaders Luton with one game in hand. Meanwhile the three goals they conceded against Dartford follow a run of just 11 goals against in 26 league outings.

Alfreton Town remain third, and ended a run of two successive defeats with a 2-1 victory over Welling United last weekend. Gateshead and Grimsby Town complete the playoff places, although neither team have won on any of their last three outings.

Halifax Town, Barnet and Kidderminster Harriers are all currently outside the top five on goal difference alone. The crucial factor is the amount of games played: both Grimsby and Kidderminster have multiple games in hand due to their lengthy FA Cup runs, while Halifax has played more games than anyone else.

In fact, the Shaymen have not won any of their last five league games, meaning their somewhat lofty league position is a little unrealistic at this stage. The Bees’ have lost five of their last seven games, but did manage a 1-0 win last time out against Southport.

Kidderminster has also lost five of their last seven league matches; they were recently beaten for the first time under new manager Andy Thorne, 2-1 by Dartford. 

Nuneaton and Salisbury City complete the top ten. The pair are one and two points adrift of the playoff places respectively, although both lost last time out: Nuneaton against Luton, and Salisbury against Hereford.

Skrill Premier: Bottom

Hyde have crashed back down to reality after their run of two games without defeat. Losses to Forest Green (6-2) and Tamworth (3-0) have left them 21 points adrift of safety with only 16 games remaining.

However, Dartford have launched something of a mini revival, having looked doomed to relegation a few weeks ago. Five points and only one defeat from their last four games has lifted them to within five points of safety.

The next four teams are separated by just three points. Southport have fallen to third bottom after three straight defeats, they are level on points with Tamworth who have won two of their last three games.

Chester are one point and one place outside the bottom four, although Steve Burr suffered his first loss as manager: 3-0 against Forest Green, last weekend, ending a run of five matches without defeat.

Two points ahead of the Blues are Aldershot Town who, if you were to give them back their ten deducted points, would only be five points off a playoff place. The Shots have been in good form recently, winning five and drawing two of their last nine games.

Both Woking and Lincoln City are also in the relegation scrap with the pair, who drew 2-2 last weekend, level on points – six ahead of the bottom four.

Elsewhere in Non-League

Bromley continued their surprisingly inevitable march to the Skrill South title as they beat Hayes & Yeading 2-1 last weekend, a result that leaves them 11 points clear of their nearest challengers Eastleigh.

Ebbsfleet United and Sutton United both look well on the way to securing playoff places, although the fifth spot is still well up for grabs, with nine teams separated by just five points. Weston-Super-Mare are currently occupying the fifth place, ahead of Eastbourne Borough and Staines Town on goal difference.

Dorchester Town and Gosport Borough look some way adrift at the bottom of the table, while Whitehawk are only in the relegation place on goal difference. They sit narrowly behind Tonbridge Angels and Maidenhead United, while Farnborough are only two points better off.

A two-horse race seems to have emerged from the top of Skrill North between current leaders North Ferriby United and Hednesford Town. The pair are seven points clear of third place AFC Telford, who head a lost seven teams separated by just six points.

Perennial playoff contenders Guiseley are also worth keeping an eye on. After starting the season badly they are now unbeaten in ten games and sit eight points adrift of the top five. Meanwhile, Oxford City, Gloucester City and Workington make up the bottom three.

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