National League: Who has made the best start?

5 games in : Who has made the best start?

Ruthless Wrexham, High - flying Halifax, Fabulous Fylde, Solid Sutton, Good - going Gateshead, Surprising Solihull and Hard - working Harrogate make up the top 7.

Bottle - job Braintree, Boring Barnet, Dismal Dagenham and Moronic Maidenhead make up the bottom four.

That is what it looks like on paper and is what people think when they see the sides and where they are positioned, but does this tell the whole story?  Do results really lie? Is this the template of where the sides are going to finish? Or is it too early to tell? Here is where you will find a review of the start teams have made to the National League 2018/19.

Table Toppers:
                       P    W   D   L   GD  Pts
Wrexham       5     4    1    0     8     13

Wrexham haven't failed to impress so far this season; unbeaten, solid, ruthless. Ricketts is new to the business of coaching and what a start he has made leading the Welsh side to 4 clean sheets conceding 1 goal. The Dragons' record is something to be proud of and Ricketts must no doubt have had a strong impact - especially defensively. The Ex - Wales defender is looking to gain promotion with Wrexham but demanded on Friday he wants 'no let up' from his in form side.

The Play-off places:

The sides that make up the top seven include; Halifax Town, AFC Fylde, Sutton United, Gateshead, Solihull Moors and newly promoted Harrogate Town. Halifax are placed 2nd, they topped the table after match day three when they defeated Maidstone 3-0. However, they were soon knocked off the top just three days after when they lost to Salford 2-1. Their win over Dagenham awarded them three points but they would have hoped for a more convincing score line and been more clinical. In third are AFC Fylde who scraped a play off spot last campaign and they have hit the ground running in their bid to replicate that success. Their recent form puts them on 11 points with three wins and two draws with a goal difference of seven. Last time out they thrashed Dover 4-0 so that undoubtedly gave them confidence going into Saturday. In fourth place are Sutton United who have an identical record in terms of wins and draws but their goal difference is worse by four, with Fylde being on seven. Both sides are unbeaten like top of the table Wrexham but they have less wins and every three points are vital, especially in this tight league.  

Into the latter half of the play offs you find Gateshead, who are under new ownership, in fifth with 10 points and a goal difference of three. The side from up north scarcely dominate games however with two 2-1wins coming against Salford and Dover sides who they would have to convincingly beat in order to challenge for promotion. Their other win came against Maidenhead, who no disrespect to them, every side is expected to beat from 20th place upwards. The Heed go into next week's game of the back of a draw and loss so they will be looking to get back on track next time out. Solihull are a side who have certainly improved under new manager Tim Flowers and they will no doubt be looking after the start they have had at a mid table spot. Their results may have surprised a few but they will have to keep this form up if they are looking to challenge for the play offs. In seventh are newly promoted Harrogate Town who started with three draws and in one or two of those games they may have looked upon them as two points lost. But there is no doubt there is a more positive outlook going into the next 5 games as two solid performances brought two 2-0 score lines and six points.

Missing out on the play offs:

From seventh to twelfth there are two points separating the five sides which is not unusual this early on in a season, but this bracket of teams if you like are those who have shown inconsistency so far this season. They have done this by either starting well then regressing, for example Chesterfield topped the table a couple of games ago, they now find themselves outside the play offs on goal difference. On the other hand, there are sides like Salford who didn't get off to an ideal start, winless in three. But suddenly they picked up some form alongside six points off the back of two defeats, The Ammies are now 12th looking to rocket up the table further and challenge for back to back promotions.

In ninth are Leyton Orient who also find themselves outside the play offs on goal difference with nine points and an unbeaten record. The O's started their campaign with a creditable draw against Salford away and two draws followed before back to back victories for Orient. Ebbsfleet may have been slightly unlucky with the run of fixtures they had been drawn with top half side after top half side. However, they have challenged where possible drawing against Orient along with wins against Hartlepool and Barnet two sides in the bottom half. Their seven points sit them in 10th level on points with three other sides including Maidstone in thirteenth. In a respectable 11th are Barrow, keeping this form up could see them finish around eight or nine places better than last season. Ian Evatt's side will look to continue this form but it won't be easy and them slipping down the table may be a possibility.

Just shy of the top half:

The top four teams in the bottom half consist of Maidstone, Hartlepool, Eastleigh and Bromley. It's onwards and upwards for The Stones as after four points from their first two games they suffered a sudden collapse. Maidstone conceded five goals in two games on match days three and four, but Jay Saunders' men are on the up as a 1-0 victory on Saturday saw them rise 16th to 13th in the league. It wasn't the same story for Eastleigh though as Boyce's red and Wynter's own goal helped top side Wrexham to a 3-1 win on Saturday. This saw them fall from 11th to 15th after the, what has to be said, unsurprising defeat at The Silverlake Stadium.

Hartlepool climbed four places to fourteenth on Saturday afternoon after they avoided a potential banana skin defeating bottom side Maidenhead 2-1. The Pools needed that win after a four game winless run to distance themselves a little from the relegation zone. Bromley now find themselves three points above the drop level on points with two other sides who sit below them on goal difference. They are sixteenth in the league and they like Hartlepool got a much needed three points to distance themselves from the drop zone. Adding to the significance of the win, it was against Gateshead who are currently in the play off places.

Avoiding the drop:

The four sides sitting just above the drop zone include Havant & Waterlooville, Boreham Wood, Dover and Aldershot. Both Havant and The Wood are level on points with 16th place Bromley but they are both two goals worse off than the kent side on goal difference. Havant & Waterlooville are on the rise after climbing out of the relegation zone to 17th. This is thanks to a first win of the season for the newly promoted side, it was a dramatic one at that, two stoppage time goals saw them come from behind to defeat Braintree. On the other hand, Boreham Wood's winless run continued as they lost to Leyton Orient on Saturday, their only victory was on the opening day against a new look Dagenham outfit. Their rapid fall down the table will be a concern for Garrard's men and they will be hoping to regain top half status with a win on Saturday against second placed Halifax - that won't be easy.

In 19th are Dover who are a point off of the other two yet still only two points from the drop. Their defence in the last couple of games looks shaky, you can tell that just by the score lines themselves a 4-3 victory and 4-0 defeat. It doesn't bode well for Kinnear's men who have won win in five, they will be hoping to make it two against Eastleigh at the weekend. The Shots are one place and two points above the drop, sitting just the right side of the dotted line. Their only win was a 2-1 victory over Dagenham & Redbridge who were close to finding an equaliser near the end. Last time out they lost 2-0 to Harrogate Town, Aldershot will be looking to put things right against their next opponents Ebbsfleet. 

The Relegation zone:

The four sides who find themselves in the bottom four still searching for a win are Braintree, Barnet, Dagenham & Redbridge and Maidenhead. Braintree are 21st, they find themselves in the bottom four after a string of poor results, two draws and three losses. Two of those losses however were against Chesterfield and Halifax which were always going to be challenging fixtures. But their latest defeat was something they didn't see coming, going into added time they were 3-2 up on the verge of sealing their first three points of the season but two goals in added time saw them lose 4-3 to Havant. In 22nd are Barnet, looking to bounce straight back up to the football league, far from the start they would have wanted as they are without a single win. Under new manager John Still they have suffered three consecutive defeats and a couple of poor performances rub salt into the wounds of all involved at Barnet. Their next game sees them up against another side looking for an immediate bounce back, Chesterfield. They will have to put in some performance in order to get a win there.

Dagenham & Redbridge sit 23rd in the table registering just one point so far this season. Their games have been of the type where they 'were unlucky to lose' 'did enough to win' but the truth is they weren't clinical in front of goal. Two of the new arrivals since the start of the season are strikers Noel Leighton and Tomi Adeloye they look to make an impact in front of goal. If they do Dagenham will get a few more points here and there, well on their way out of the relegation scrap. Next up they face Hartlepool and if they put in a good shift and are clinical in front of goal there is no reason why they can't come away with all three points. At the foot of the table are Maidenhead who showed little promise drawing to Dagenham, which is their only point to date. Their aggressive nature was clear consequently going down to ten men in that match, however they like Dagenham aren't far off the standard required to push out of the relegation zone. The Magpies face local rivals Maidstone in a televised fixture on Saturday, a game that won't be without aggression and bite.

Thank you for reading,


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