It’s still very early days in the football season, but it’s hard to look past the likes of Chesterfield in the National League battle for glory.
Such an open league, like it always has been, there will be surprises, drama and bumps in the road along the way. Non-league football and the National League brings the best entertainment most of the time.
It’s going to be another exciting season - if the first four games are anything to go by - with four sides still unbeaten and the top three level on points.
Barnet, Solihull Moors and Chesterfield starting strongly, although nobody has won all of their first batch of games. And, Solihull are on a roll, winning three in a row, just how the Spitfires started their season before a draw to Oldham most recently.
Predictions and projections will change frequently like Paul Cook’s accent during post-match interviews, it’s very hard to call at this stage in the season. An extremely late equaliser cost his Chesterfield side three points at home to Oldham last Saturday, and carnage broke out after. Without that goal though the Spitfires would be flying, and have moved to four wins from four.
Oldham boss David Unsworth hasn’t ruled out their title hopes, insisting he has not surrendered them, but pointed towards the differences in budgets between his side and Cook’s. It’s always a massive factor at National League and non-league level, and it’ll sure have a say this season.
Solihull Moors who’d have thought? 15th at the conclusion of last season, now second and unbeaten. It’s been a promising start for the Moors.
Likewise, for Barnet and their boss Dean Brennan who was full of praise for his side after their 2-0 victory against strugglers Woking. Fifth last season, they weren’t far off, but with the giants Wrexham and Notts County gone, could this also be Barnet’s year to go for it?
Since relegation out of the football league at the end of the 2017/18 season, Chesterfield have been unable to claw themselves back, finishing sixth, seventh and third in the most recent years. So close last season and denied on penalties by Notts County, everything suggests that this year has to be their year. The progression they’ve shown suggests the only way is up, and the hurt from last year is only sure to inspire them and spur the Spitfires on.
Hartlepool are also in the mix, only fourth and looking to bounce back to League Two following relegation last season. However, quality can be seen throughout the league, there’s no clear frontrunner, especially at this point in the season. Rochdale too, likewise to Hartlepool, will look to climb back up the divisions and back to League Two where they exited last season. 102 years as a football league club came to an end last term, and surely they won’t be out of it for long?
Who knows, maybe even Kiddy could shock the league like they did last year, and go seven games unbeaten in the run-in before storming the play-offs. Highly unlikely to happen, but one can dream!
At the bottom, it’s sad to see, but the sorry state of Southend United. Two wins in a row, they have the quality to get away from the bottom, but now continuing with minus points doesn’t set you up for an easy season.
Will the Spitfires fly high this season? We’ll see. But it's definitely hard to overlook them this season...