The NLP’s news editor Jon Couch takes a look at this weekend’s main National League talking points
One club is leaping out at me as I scan through the National League fixtures for tomorrow – Chesterfield!
How can one of the biggest club’s in the division buy so well in the summer, win their opening three games of the season and then take just two points out of a possible 30 thereafter?
Boss Martin Allen has come out fighting this week amidst a barrage but will not relish a trip to the Gallagher Stadium to face a Maidstone United side, who are already making big strides under new boss Harry Wheeler.
Could the man who was so shabbily treated by Billericay hammer the final nail in Mad Dog’s coffin?
Game of the day, for me, sees high-flying leaders Leyton Orient side host a Sutton United side, who can beat anyone on their day.
Should they fail to record a fourth successive win, Salford City will be waiting in the wings to top the table for the first time, but only if they can negotiate a tricky trip to Maidenhead United. Things are certainly hotting up.
Editor Alex Narey previews the big match in the National League North
The big clash in National North this weekend is Chester’s visit to table-topping Chorley. Jamie Vermiglio’s Magpies have been at full throttle all season, racking up 28 points from a possible 30 – their only blip being a 2-2 draw on the road at Brackley Town four weeks ago.
Last season, Chorley boasted the second meanest defence in National North, and they have picked up where they left us off this term with Vermiglio’s men conceding just four from their ten outings. Going forward, the goals of Adam Blakeman have seen them top the scoring charts too alongside Kidderminster Harriers, with 23, so it’s little wonder they have opened up a nine-point lead at the summit.
On paper, everything points to a home win. But Chester, one of my pre-season favourites for promotion, have slowly started to find their cutting edge after a somewhat shaky start that included an 8-1 thumping on the road at AFC Blyth. The club was then forced to sit out a number of home fixtures after their ground was flooded in mid-August.
Joint bosses Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley appear to have settled things down and are just slowly chipping away at what’s above them. It’s a tough call but the Blues just might have the firepower to go there and return with a point or maybe two more.
Let’s face it; someone has to stop the Chorley charge at some stage.
*Star game coverage in Sunday’s NLP*
Matt Badcock, The NLP’s senior writer, looks at the game of the day in National League South
Gary Johnson has certainly lifted the mood since he arrived at Torquay United.
How the Gulls needed an injection of confidence after a slow start in the National League South following their relegation out of Non-League’s top flight.
They may have been playing a Step 5 side last Saturday when they put Lymington Town 7-0 in the FA Cup, but it was a good opportunity to see how his side are coming on in his first weeks in charge since replacing Gary Owers.
Johnson has an aura of success about him. He achieves wherever he goes – Yeovil, Bristol City and, most recently, Cheltenham Town have all enjoy the GJ factor.
Landing him was quite the coup for Torquay as he was sold by the vision of a club in a league he wouldn’t normally consider dropping to.
There will be ups and downs but Johnson knows what’s required – and he’s well aware he faces his first big test in the Gulls’ dug-out against Woking this weekend.
Alan Dowson’s side are top of the league and in the mood. Come 4.45pm on Saturday evening, Johnson will have learned a lot of lessons. For good or bad.