Chesterfield celebrated Non-League Day in particular style by finally confirming what everyone had really known for some time by becoming champions of the National League, erasing memories of last year’s agonising penalty shootout defeat in the play-off final to Notts County to, at last end a six-year exile from the EFL. Marking the occasion with a 3-0 home win – in front of nearly ten thousand adoring fans – over surprise strugglers Boreham Wood, who this week announced the decision to part ways with long-serving Manager Luke Garrard at the end of the season. Six successive defeats leaves the Hertfordshire side third from bottom and three points adrift of Wealdstone, having played two games more.

While an end of an era, after nine success-filled years, draws towards a shock conclusion, just the one brought Oxford City’s time in the top flight to a culmination. Four defeats in five and ninety goals conceded overall show how increasingly hard it is for a part-time team to survive in the higher echelons of non-league football.

Dorking Wanderers are also perilously placed despite a home humbling of then champions-elect Chesterfield. Those three points the only maximum collected by the men from Meadowbank since mid-February, not helped by a six-nil pummelling at Barnet.

York City have made a dramatic improvement under new Manager Adam Hinshelwood. Following a winless start to life at the LNER Community Stadium – which included a six-one humbling at promotion-chasing Altrincham – three impressive wins in a row that featured a ninety-second minute Lenell John-Lewis clincher against Aldershot Town and three more points versus now champs Chesterfield and fellow high-fliers Bromley, have lifted the Minstermen four clear of danger. Although a stoppage-time equaliser at FC Halifax Town served as a reminder that there’s still work to be done if they are to remain in the National League next term.

That Moss Lane mauling has helped Altrincham glide up to fourth in the standings, as they lead the current form guide, hotly pursued by the club immediately above them in the rankings, Bromley.

Gateshead’s extraordinary seven-nil thrashing of fellow North Easterners Hartlepool United, during a sequence of three straight victories, sees them sitting pretty in the top seven, six points ahead of FC Halifax, who possess a match in hand over Aldershot Town in the final play-off spot.

In-form Southend United and Rochdale may have left their promotion bids too late but Shrimpers’ Boss Kevin Maher has impressed many with his achievements at United under a variety of testing circumstances. Points deductions and transfer embargoes being simply two examples of a testing campaign. The long-serving Chief and former player honoured with the Freedom of the City for his unstinting service to the club and area as a whole.

It’s all over bar the shouting in National North, thanks to Tamworth holding a ten point advantage over Scunthorpe United. Last Year’s Southern Premier Central champions are on the verge of successive promotions and only need three more precious points to make a return to the top table for the first time since 2014.

Brackley Town and Chorley are virtually guaranteed to make the play-off cut, with a three-nil Easter Monday verdict over Tamworth amongst a recent run of five victories in six matches for the former.

Spennymoor Town lead the form guide, nestling themselves neatly inside a cluster of clubs separated by a mere five points, from fifth-placed Alfreton Town to eleventh-placed Chester.

South Shields appear to have overcome a mid-season wobble to trail Boston United, occupying the last spot in the leading seven by goal-difference, courtesy of five wins in a row eventually ended by Curzon Ashton on April Fools’ Day. The Ash continuing a fine period of their own; three wins out of three after a three-nil defeat to another form side in the shape of Spennymoor putting them sixth.

Boston are clinging on to the final play-off position, via four straight wins bookended by a duo of defeats. Those maximum’s starting with a remarkable seven-three victory at home to Gloucester City; a ninety-plus minutes that left the Lincolnshire side short of a couple of match balls, thanks to four-goal Kelsey Mooney and hat-trick hero Jimmy Knowles.

At the other end of proceedings, Darlington’s upturn in fortunes since Steve Watson took the reins sees them two positions above the dreaded dotted line, though still looking nervously over their shoulders as a narrow pair of points is all that’s keeping their heads above water. An almost even win-loss sequence of results commenced with a three-one win against Banbury United, usurped three days later by a brilliant bashing of Scunthorpe, to the tune of four-nil.

Unfortunately, it’s not looking good for the Oxfordshire U’s; mainly due to the fact that a distinct lack of goals has severely hampered their progress. Indeed, the division’s joint lowest scorers are on a dismal journey that sees them marooned in the bottom four, ten points adrift and stuck in a rut where a pointless March has only added to their woes of a current eleven game winless streak.

However, just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, the other shot shy side in the North, Bishop’s Stortford. Unfortunately shifted away from the South, a season of struggle saw their fate finally sealed on the 16th of March via a three-nil loss at Alfreton. A little ray of light did emerge from the long-impending doom five matches later though, in the form of a three-one win at home to Banbury; eventually ending a dire record of fifteen successive defeats.

Farsley Celtic and Gloucester are also struggling for form at the wrong time; two points in seven outings and a solitary victory at Warrington Town respectively means City look like it will be a return to Step 3 for them in 2024-25 but Celtic still have hope. The latter needing to wipe out an eleven point deficit with only twelve left to play for, although the Throstle Nest club maintain strong ambitions of staying up; as simply goal difference is all that’s keeping them in the drop zone at the present time.

They think it’s all over, it isn’t quite yet though for long-time leaders of the South, Yeovil Town. Even successive March defeats have failed to derail the Glovers, who know that a win at Huish Park against play-off pursuing Worthing on the opening Saturday in April will confirm the inevitable.

Our own iffy patch seems to have been saved by a TNT Sports debut draw versus Batch City at the Sussex Transport Community Stadium. A draw which has been succeeded by two straight wins, following three reverses in a row. One of those losses coming at the hands of Farnborough, whose home defeat to Yeovil preempted a seven match winning streak that not only lifted them to the top of the form table but up to eighth in the main one. Goal difference is all that now separates them from a top seven placing.

Chelmsford City are the only team to have booked their date with play-off destiny so far, despite an unexpected Easter Monday reversal at relegated Dover Athletic.

Fourth-placed Maidstone United have rediscovered their form at just the right time to sit a mere two points above ourselves and simply goal difference below Braintree Town.

Meanwhile, a recent Desmond and a half record of W2 D2 L2 has forced Bath to cast a worrying glance behind them, as the chasing pack closes in. Hampton & Richmond Borough are performing a similar act of Owl-like neck twisting; winless in four with a full Desmond (D2 L2). Although both have played a game or two fewer than their pursuers.

Two of those collectives are Aveley and St Albans City, a club who drew a line under three straight pointless returns – one as a result of a head-to-head between the two on the 23rd of March – via an April 1st stalemate at Slough Town. Shaun Jeffers popping up with a ninety-third minute leveller.

In fact, Bath, Farnborough and Aveley are all tied on sixty-six points while Chippenham Town retain an outside chance of gatecrashing the play-off party. March’s four victories in four
bagged them wins over Yeovil and Worthing, only for April to begin with a goalless verdict versus lowly Truro City.

Eastbourne Borough have dragged themselves out of the bottom four but are only a point clear of Dartford, now under new Management. Not that Ady Pennock’s appointment has yet had the desired effect. A winless start to life at the Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park Stadium puts them top of the relegation zone, though only a point behind Borough

Although all of that paled into insignificance, when news broke of the sad passing of Co-Chairman Dave Skinner, a key component in the reformation of the Darts in 1992. A supporter for the best part of sixty years, his contribution to their cause cannot be underestimated.

Peversley, the man Pennock replaced, Alan Dowson hasn’t seen the (3G) grass become any greener on the other side. Now in charge at Hemel Hempstead Town, a single point, ironically at Dartford the only one garnered so far under the likeable Geordie’s leadership.

Weymouth were the other club to make a change at the top, rather harshly sacking Bobby Wilkinson the day after his birthday ! A mixed month of results not enough to save the former Wealdstone Boss from receiving his P45, shortly after blowing out the candles on his cake.

The pitch problems suffered by Taunton Town and Truro have been well documented, as has Torquay’s ten point deduction for entering administration, which finally came into effect in Mid-March. Ten and eleven games in twenty April days respectively will truly test the physical, mental and emotional strength of Town and City who have been forced to play nearly two hundred miles away in Gloucester, to get ‘home’ matches on.