Plenty of ups and downs on weekend two of the new Vanarama National League North campaign, with some teams jockeying for position near the top and others doing their utmost to steer clear of trouble at the bottom. How did they all fare? Alty director BILL WATERSON has all the answers.
Three games in, and all the 100% records have gone. No-one has come racing out of the starting blocks in the Vanarama National League North this season in the way the Chorley did 12 months ago. The nearest contender for that crown are the Minstermen of York City, who moved to the top of the table, with seven points so far, following a 1-0 victory over Brackley Town, our opponents next Saturday.
Early pacesetters Guiseley (can you call a side a pacesetter after only two games?) were brought back down to earth with a 3-0 defeat at Southport, which gave the Sandgrounders their first win of the season.
Curzon Ashton continued their unbeaten run with a 1-1 draw at Leamington, who are also on five points with a win and two draws. Just ahead on six points (with Guiseley) are newly-promoted King's Lynn Town, who had an impressive 3-1 home win over Hereford. Chester complete the play-off places after their 2-1 home win over Farsley Celtic, the Cestrians also being on five points.
There are seven teams on four points – a win, a draw and a defeat - topped and tailed by by our next opponents, Alfreton Town, and our last ones, Gloucester City.
Alfreton (3-0 winners over Blyth Spartans) are followed by Darlington, whose first win of the season on Saturday was by the same scoreline at home to Kettering Town, while Kidderminster Harriers got off the mark with an away victory at Bradford (Park Avenue).
Next come Farsley Celtic, and then AFC Telford United, who were held to a goalless draw in Shropshire by Gateshead, then Hereford and then Gloucester City, whose point against Alty was enough to move them on to that populated four-point mark.
Gateshead have now drawn all three of their opening fixtures and are one of six teams without a win, whilst also being one of eight who remain undefeated. Also on three points, with a win and two defeats, are Brackley, our opponents next Saturday, and Kettering.
Boston United have also only drawn this season, but their game at Spennymoor on Saturday was postponed, leaving them on two points from two games, level with ourselves. The Moors had asked for their first four games to be played away from Brewery Field, due to extended work on their pitch in the close season, and as these works are still ongoing, their game on Saturday could not go ahead. They have one point, but have only played a single game.
The bottom two sides still have to earn their first points of the season, and both of them were at the other end of the table throughout last season. Blyth and Bradford complete a bottom four that were all play-off sides last season, but given that these two clubs suffered major upheaval over the summer, they must be concerned about the season ahead.
There are only two relegation slots this time, as the Vanarama National League North moves to 24 sides next season, and this will, I am sure, have an effect on the dynamics of the campaign.
There is a full complement of midweek games this week, with Curzon Ashton hosting Darlington on Monday night, with the other 10 fixtures taking place the following evening.
We host Alfreton, hoping that like last season they can give us our opening home victory. There is an interesting game in Northumberland, where York hope to continue their positive start at the expense of a Blyth team who simply want to get their season going.
Just down the A1, Bradford travel to Gateshead, while journeying further south into Yorkshire, Guiseley entertain Spennymoor and Farsley are at home to Southport. The remaining fixtures are all south of Birmingham (how often can you say there are five such games in our league?), with Kidderminster hosting Gloucester, Hereford home to Telford, Brackley welcoming King's Lynn, Boston entertaining Leamington and Chester heading to Kettering.
We will know a little more about this season after Tuesday night, and the drama is sure to continue.