Chesterfield and Barnet continue to lead the way in the top division, pulling seven points clear of a chasing pack now led by fellow in-form side Bromley. Aldershot have also enjoyed a good month – four wins in six games seeing them climb into the play-off places alongside Solihull Moors who, despite their unbeaten start coming to an end at home to the Shots, are still sitting (fairly) pretty in fourth.
Good news finally greeted Southend United and their long-suffering fans, when news of an imminent takeover by Australian businessman Justin Rees brought cheer to the men from Roots Hall. Four wins in a row, including a five-nil thrashing of the previously mighty Moors, which featured a four-goal salvo from Charlton loanee Daniel Kanu, indicates Shrimpers supporters can now start to look forward to happier times both on and off the pitch.
Gateshead and Oldham Athletic form an orderly queue just outside the top seven, with the Heed reeling from the departure of Manager Mike Williamson to League Two’s MK Dons while the Latics unveiled two-time former National League promotion winner Micky Mellon as their new Boss, to spark an upturn in fortunes. Something struggling AFC Fylde also experienced following the decision to relieve Adam Murray of his duties with the team nine points adrift at the bottom. Caretaker Chris Beech has already led last season’s National North champions out of the relegation zone.
The North East Street Games saw Gateshead’s Foundation awarded the North East Doorstep Sport Project of the Year for the terrific work they do with local youngsters to add to an FA Cup 4th qualifying round win at Step 3 Leek Town, resulting in a tricky 1st round tie at National South leaders Yeovil Town (who knocked out Southend) as the good times continue to roll at the International Stadium.
Continuing on a rolling theme, the BBC TV cameras will be doing exactly that on Saturday 4th November to see if high-flying Bromley can cause an upset at League One promotion hopefuls and former Cup victors Blackpool. Then, twenty-four hours later ITV will be aiming to capture something similar as the ‘Paul Cook Derby’ sees his current club Chesterfield take on one of his ex-employees in unbeaten Portsmouth, of the third tier too.
Shock scores already have seen Dorking Wanderers bow out to Isthmian Premier neighbours Horsham, Ebbsfleet United lose a replay to South side Slough Town, FC Halifax get KO’d by famed Cup fighters Marine (Northern Premier,) Hartlepool United succumb at home to North Division Chester and Dagenham and Redbridge have their hopes end in tears at the hands of Bracknell Town on the Beeb. Peversley, three of the league’s bottom four can delight in the distraction of Round One, including York City lining up at Chester.
It’s been a tough campaign for Scunthorpe United so far but October saw one-time Commercial Manager Michelle Harness assume responsibilities at Glanford Park Park from former owner David Hilton. Although there is still a long way to go regarding outstanding debts and ownership of the ground itself, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Not that any of this has distracted the players; a mere four points separating them and long-time leaders Tamworth at the head of the table.
FA Cup heroes Chester continue to juggle a play-off challenge with a Cup run, as do Alfreton Town and Curzon Ashton, after they saw off Macclesfield and the Lambs of Tamworth respectively to procure match-ups with Worthing and Barnet in the opening ‘proper’ round.
Scarborough and Hereford are the only other North alumni who will fly the flag and Boro will fancy their chances against lowly League Two outfit Forest Green Rovers.
Peterborough Sports fell to Needham Market in qualifying round three, who, in turn suffered the agony of a stoppage-time replay defeat to York City in the final group of meetings prior to the Football League fraternity starting to enter the equation.
The ‘New Manager Bounce’ hasn’t yet materialised at either Gloucester City or Darlington; one win between the pair of them in the last twelve league fixtures leaves both firmly entrenched in the relegation mire. Mike Cook currently trying, in vain, to disprove the long-held theory that you should never go back and Josh Gowling clearly have much work to do if they are to reverse current fortunes.
Bishop’s Stortford only have Darlo below them in the standings, although it’s the other way around in the form table thanks to Stortford (being) stuck in a rut of six straight losses, inclusive of hammerings at the hands of Warrington Town and the United of Scunthorpe. The North Easterners meanwhile can ‘boast’ one meagre three-point haul in the past eight.
Curzon are in the middle, literally, courtesy of a four point gap stranding them as far away from the play-off places as the drop zone. Adam Lakeland swapped the Tameside Stadium for The Walks when he stepped into the breach at King’s Lynn Town but it‘s the Suffolk side who complete the bottom four.
Three successive blanks in the points column have checked Southport’s otherwise upward trajectory under recently employed Number One Jim Bentley. Marcus Carver’s goals playing a major part in their (mini) revival, earning him the Player of the Month going into October.
Newly-promoted Banbury United decisively defy the odds again, demonstrating that neither an elevation on the pitch or the loss of the man who got them there necessarily equal negativity. A healthy mid-table placing, just a couple of points away from reentering the top seven, is their answer to any naysayers. It’s also where Boston have more than a feeling they too could embark on a push towards the next level, in spite of a little wobble over the course of the last six matches.
Yeovil Town extended their winning league run to seven, eight if you include FA Cup victory at higher-league Southend, to open up a six point gap over the rest. However, they did need a ninety-eighth minute Morgan Williams winner at Woodside.
Mel Gwinnett has certainly made his mark at Hampton & Richmond Borough, five straight wins sending the Beavers swimming rapidly upstream to break into the play-off picture. One of those three pointers came at the expense of a Woodside wobble, as Worthing endured a tough month that did, at least, end on a high via victory at third-placed – league-wise and form guide-wise – Bath City, the Reds second conquering of the Romans in a few short weeks. Adding to an FA Cup win that sees us through to the first round for the first time in twenty-four long years.
The natives are getting restless at one of the pre-season favourites Torquay United, not helped by them losing to another in the form of Maidstone United, on consecutive Saturdays to concede more ground in the title/promotion race and bow out of the FA Cup.
Farnborough have slowly ascended the standings to occupy fourth during an unbeaten month while Aveley and Taunton Town continue to keep pace.
In an increasingly tight division, as little as three points separate Bath in third and St Albans City in eleventh. Even inconsistent Dartford are only two points outside the leading seven clubs and a single one behind Worthing, as we find ourselves far from out of it despite one win in six.
At the other end of the spectrum, Steve King, Mitch Brundle and Danny Bloor suffered a winless October with Havant & Waterlooville, Dover Athletic and Welling United to prop up the rest. Havant in particular look in real strife, sitting an unhappy ten points away from safety. Slough Town, under the Player-management of Scott Davies can, at least, point to the distraction of a Cup run to the first round and a home tie with League Two Grimsby Town at Arbour Park.
Wembley’s Arch is still in sight too for a Maidstone team travelling to Southern Premier South Chesham United, who accounted for Braintree Town in dramatic fashion in the last round. Turning around a one-goal deficit by bagging a ninety-fourth minute equaliser to force an additional thirty minutes, then notching twice more; the third strike arriving in the fourth minute of added time in extra-time. The Generals given another tough task to master in the form of United.
Ex-Red Ibby Akanbi broke his goalscoring duck against Slough to help tie up three valuable points but it was off the October pitch where Saints shone the brightest. Hannah Coote collected the Coach of the Year Disability Pathway accolade for her outstanding efforts and Commercial Manager Steve Mann walked off with the Lioness Award, to mark his achievements in increasing opportunities for women and girls to get involved in our national sport.
Playing at someone else’s place is hindering lowly Truro City, although their cause was at least aided by a late, late leveller at the Sussex Community Stadium and Eastbourne Borough haunt the lower echelons of the table with an eerie aura. Change isn’t always a good thing, you know.