This weekend sees the continuation of the road to Wembley as the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup takes place, with clubs from Step 4 entering into the competition. For clubs in the top steps of Non League, it’s business as usual.
After the opening four games, Tranmere are already starting pull away from the pack. With the only remaining 100% record they welcome Maidstone United to Prenton Park, intent on increasing their stranglehold on the top. The Stones have been enjoying a good start to life in the National League and won on their last trip away to Chester, but face a difficult task stopping the free scoring James Norwood.
Since being promoted, North Ferriby United have endured a mixed time. After their opening day point against Braintree Town, they lost two away games on the spin including a 6-1 defeat to Lincoln City. The Grange Lane faithful had something to celebrate on Tuesday night though, when Simon Russell bagged an 88th minute winner to give the club their first win. Torquay are up next, and are sat on the same points as United with a slightly better goal difference. Having lost both their two away games 2-0 this season, boss Kevin Nicholson will be hoping the Gulls will be able to improve their travelling form.
After losing 4-2 at home to Dover, Eastleigh became the first team to sack their manager. Chris Todd was shown the door and has been replaced by Ronnie Moore. The former Hartlepool and Tranmere boss has a wealth of experience and his appointment shows the ambition of the Hampshire club. This weekend they travel to Wales to face Wrexham, but the managerial change could have come too late for Eastleigh to affect Wrexham’s unbeaten home record.
Only four clubs are without a win so far, and all four currently occupy the relegation places. Braintree Town, Guiseley, Bromley and Woking all face top half teams in their weekend fixtures. Guiseley face a tough trip to Solihull Moors, having not even registered a point yet in this campaign, although they have fallen to late winning goals again North Ferriby and Wrexham. Braintree entertain 9th placed Aldershot. Boss Jaime Day recently brought in Sam Corne from Welling United and will be hoping he’ll be able to help the Essex outfit get their first three points of the season. Kent side Bromley have second placed Gateshead travelling down for Saturday’s 3pm kick off. Bromley’s defence are going to be in for a rough afternoon, the North East side have been on fire with 12 goals already, including scoring 6 against York City on Tuesday night. With only one point from four for Bromley, there only looks like one outcome when the two teams meet in the Garden of England. Finally, Woking have Dagenham & Redbridge coming over for a visit. Having lost their two home games already, and with Daggers coming off back to back wins, it looks like Woking might have to wait a bit longer for their first victory of the season.
NATIONAL LEAGUE – NORTH
It’s tight in this league, with only 5 points from top of the table FC Halifax and 19th placed Stalybridge Celtic. FC Halifax are currently joint top with Harrogate, and face Tamworth at the Shay Stadium. Tamworth lost their last away game against to Boston so will be hoping to quickly bounce back.
Stalybridge Celtic are struggling lately, with three defeats from their last three games, they travel to fourth placed Kidderminster. The Harriers are yet to win at home, so Celtic will be hoping they can put an end to their poor run of form.
The bottom three are all without a win so far and all have a single point. Gainsborough Trinity sit bottom thanks to a terrible goal difference of -9. After drawing their first game, it’s been goals galore flying past their goal keeper. They have 19th placed Altrincham coming to town, who are also looking for their first win but are undefeated on their travels. If you’re heading to this game be prepared for goals – the clubs have been involved in 31 already this season!
Worcester City are currently trying to move back to their home town but this weekend travel to FC United of Manchester. Having lost their two away games, FC United will be a tough opposition for the City.
Finally, Nuneaton Town face Salford City. Both teams already have a game in hand, but Salford have more to show for their outings. With only one goal conceded so far, and an emphatic 4-0 win in their last away game, Town could be facing another home defeat.
NATIONAL LEAGUE – SOUTH
There’s a relegation battle already taking shape in the South, with Concord Rangers rooted at the bottom of the table with zero points. They travel to Oxford City who are also in the relegation places. Since their opening day victory, City has not registered another point. Both teams will be hoping to use this game to kick start their season.
Welling United have started how they finished last season, playing poorly. Having lost their two home games, 8th placed St Albans City make the short trip feeling confident that they can take all three points.
Seaside team Margate have an awful away record, with two defeats from two. They’ll be looking to change this as they travel to the Poole Town. Unfortunately for Margate, the Southern Premier League champions have an unbeaten home record and have been looking solid when in Dorset.
League leaders Weston-super-Mare did have a 100% record until they drew during the week. They welcome Dartford, aiming to get back in to winning ways. The Darts on the other hand are without a win, having drawn 3 from the last 4. Can only see WSM in this one.
Play off final losers, Ebbsfleet United had a promising start to this season with two consecutive wins. However, they dropped points with drawing their next two games. Although still in the playoff places, Daryl McMahon will be expecting his side to coast to a home victory when Hemel Hempstead Town visit on Saturday. The Town have not travelled well, losing their two away games and letting in 5 without a reply against Maidenhead on Tuesday.