Chesterfield continue to lead the way in the highest division, despite seeing their seven-match winning run come to an end at struggling Maidenhead United. A point was also enough to maintain Solihull’s proud record as the only unbeaten team, following a two-all draw at a York City side now being steered into calmer waters by ex-Chief Neal Ardley; the dreaded Manager of the Month curse not striking his predecessor at the high-flying Moors, Andy Whing.
Kidderminster Harriers continue to find life tough at the top, slumping to the bottom of the pile where fellow promoted sides AFC Fylde and Oxford City complete the relegation zone line-up, accompanied by crisis-torn Southend United. Though the Coasters have been nominated in the North West for both Community Club of the Year and for their outstanding contribution to helping those and the families of those who have served us in the Armed Forces, through their Foundation.
Former FA Cup winner David Unsworth fell on his sword at one-time Premier League team Oldham Athletic. Caretaker and local lad Steve Thompson has enjoyed instant success in his bid to get the job on a permanent basis, winning his first three games and staying unbeaten for a fourth in spite of being held at Wealdstone.
Richard Hill is the new man in charge at Eastleigh and got his third spell in the hot seat off to a good start, a Paul McCallum brace helping to see off FC Halifax Town.
Just ahead of McCallum, Marcus Dinanga’s goals see him lead the race for the Golden Boot and, despite their unbeaten run suffering a blip at the hands of Bromley, who move onto seven wins out of eight and firmly into the play-off picture themselves, Gateshead earn their place amongst the front-runners on merit too, building on an FA Trophy final appearance in 2022-23.
Altrincham are creeping slowly but surely in the right direction, despite Ollie Crankshaw rapidly being ruled out for the rest of the season, due to an ACL injury suffered in only his second appearance since signing from Stockport County, although Oxford City slipped further the other way, after the Men from Moss Lane edged out the new boys live on TNT Sport at the end of the month.
Dorking Wanderers’ September record also offers better reading, coming away from a first-ever trip to Hartlepool United with three more points, thanks to Jason Prior and recent signing Tom Blair. Resulting in Pools’ struggles showing no imminent sign of abating, regardless of Mani Dieseruvwe picking up the Player of the Month accolade prior to September starting.
Staying ‘Up North,’ Adam Lakeland has been tasked with turning around the fortunes of floundering King’s Lynn Town, following the departure of Mark Hughes. Last term’s title challenge but subsequent play-off campaign feeling even longer ago than it actually was at The Walks.
Not that Lakeland’s former club appear to have let his move seriously affect them, as they continue to slip under the proverbial radar and keep pace with the chasing pack. Indeed, their only defeats in the last eight games came via narrow one-nil reverses at the hands of leaders Tamworth and fellow in-form side Chorley. They also progressed in the FA Cup, at the expense of Warrington Town and Chorley, to set up a fourth qualifying round tie against….Tamworth !!
Goalscoring midfielder Will Hayhurst has featured heavily, including impressing in a ‘shock’ victory over pre-season championship favourites Scunthorpe United. Carrying on his August form that saw him named Player of the Month, as Scunny’s Jimmy Dean walked away with the Managerial accolade.
Gloucester City and Darlington dispensed with the services of Tim Flowers and Alun Armstrong respectively, replacing them with Mike Cook (for a second time) and former Hereford Boss Josh Gowling. The pair certainly have their work cut out, as their new employers occupied the bottom two places at the time of their appointments and stay stuck in the bottom four.
A destination Jim Bentley’s upwardly mobile Southport vacated thanks to an unbeaten month. The only bump in the road a hefty one though, succumbing to Step-below Morpeth Town to go straight out of the FA Cup.
Buxton enjoyed a near-identical September to move into the top ten, only to bow out on the road to Wembley equally early at Macclesfield, of the same division.
Much-fancied South Shields are another team who can ‘concentrate on the league’ too, after they suffered stage fright on the BBC to surprisingly exit in the third qualifying round, while little more than three-quarters of an hour away, Spennymoor are neck-and-neck at the top of the table but Cup glory eluded them as well, Marine ending their journey a mere one hundred and eighty minutes along a briefly trodden route.
Peterborough Sports hoped their wretched league might be remedied via a sprinkling of Cup Magic; facing a replay at Southern Premier Central Needham Market as September drew to a close. Meaning Scarborough, Boston United, Hereford, Alfreton Town and Chester are the other clubs definitely flying the National North Flag, potentially within ninety minutes of the first round.
The South West dominate the upper echelons in the South, thanks to Bath City sitting pretty atop both the standings themselves and the current form guide. The top scoring team possessing the top scoring player in Scott Wilson, stats that led to Wilson walking away with the Player of the Month gong. They also, of course, have a date with our good selves in the final round of FA Cup qualifying.
If Bath’s rise to the top stunned some, then Taunton’s short-but-sweet spell spent there caught out a few more. An unbeaten month only upset by Merthyr Town bringing that proud record to a disappointing conclusion in a Cup replay.
Havant and Waterlooville are the single team to depart Somerset with any points; although their one has only since been doubled in new man Steve King’s early tenure, as his challenge at Westleigh Park appears to be a big one. Not helped by a cup exit at home to Southern Premier South side Bracknell Town, with Jamie Collins the sole holder of a September P45.
Manager of the Month Adam Hinshelwood might be cursing his prize; becoming the latest recipient of the fabled curse that often follows such an acknowledgement. Consecutive four-nil away defeats at Braintree Town and Maidstone United not quite offset by one win over Welling.
However, cup progress has seen the Rebels reach qualifying round four at the expense of divisional rivals Eastbourne Borough and former foes Whitehawk.
Yeovil Town and Torquay United are firmly entrenched in the promotion race and fare equally well in the Cup to boot. The Uniteds of Southend and Maidstone up next, offering intriguing tussles.
Another surprise package shows little sign of leaving the party early, in the shape of Aveley. A trio of triumphs aiding and abetting a healthy position in the play-off spots. An ongoing rivalry with Hornchurch finally ending in an embryonic October replay in the FA Cup. Regrettably, the fact that this is a September round-up prevents me from revealing the outcome, for now.
Fortune favours the brave and Dover Athletic will need all the courage they can muster if they are to avoid a return to the Isthmian ranks, for the first time since 2009. A single win but none in the most recent calendar month means their upcoming FA Cup tie at higher-division Eastleigh carries extra significance. An upset in Hampshire will, the Whites pray, lead to a surge of points as well as prizes.
Welling United, under the stewardship of Danny Bloor, had a midtable month; two wins, two draws and two losses merely nearly enough for them to leave the drop zone behind.
Hampton & Richmond Borough are the others currently on the wrong side of the dotted line, while Tonbridge Angels will be hoping they can inch clear – only a point separates the duo. Ex-Red Sonny Fish replacing another in St Albans City bound Ibby Akanbi could prove to be key.
Finally, Hemel Hempstead Town, Weston-super-Mare, Braintree, Slough Town, Chelmsford City and possibly Welling complete the South’s hopefuls aiming to devour the FA Cup carrot dangling delicately in front of them and, ultimately, dine at the top table of the first round proper.