Welcome to 2023 and let’s just say that the Vanarama National League started the year with a bang! 52 matches got underway and with that came a new batch of drama and excitement. Let’s get straight into it…
Notts County remain at the top of the table with 68 points from 29 games, albeit they have played two extra games than the team in second. They started January off with a 2-2 draw away to Oldham in their Christmas reverse fixture. They then went and followed that up with a convincing 0-3 display away to Aldershot. Their first home game of the month ended in a 1-1 draw versus Boreham Wood which was a disappointing performance for The Magpies. Next up was the Isuzu FA Trophy Fourth Round, but this was the furthest they would go this season. Despite coming back from two goals down to make it 2-2 at home to Maidstone, they went on to lose 5-6 on penalties. Macaulay Langstaff got on the scoresheet a week later when he helped his side beat FC Halifax Town 1-0 to get them back on track. To finish the month off, a brace from Ruben Rodrigues helped County overcome Solihull Moors and win 1-2 on the road. They club subsequently broke their club record at 20 league games unbeaten.
Wrexham stole the show yet again this month but in the Emirates FA Cup. They sit second in the league with 65 points from 27 games. They got their new year underway with a 1-2 league win away to Solihull Moors. Next up was one of the biggest shocks in recent years. The Red Dragons travelled to Championship side Coventry City and manged to win 3-4. Goals from Sam Dalby, Elliot Lee, Thomas O’Connor and Paul Mullin cemented a famous victory for the Welsh side and saw them through to Round Four. Just three days later, they came from a goal down at home to Bromley to win 2-1. Next up was FA Trophy action but Wrexham too, were consequently knocked out after another 2-2 draw. Altrincham were victorious 4-3 on penalties. Looking to get backing to winning ways, they travelled to Maidstone and had a two-goal lead with half an hour left. Maidstone managed to score two quickfire goals in the space of seven minutes and all of a sudden it was level terms. However, in the 90+1st minute, Aaron Hayden won the game for his side to send everyone from North Wales (+USA/Canada) into euphoria. They backed that up with an impressive 0-3 win away to Gateshead before then going onto to play the FA Cup Fourth Round game. They hosted another Championship side in Sheffield United. Despite The Blades taking an early lead, Wrexham found themselves 2-1 up thanks to goals from James Jones and O’Connor. It was 2-2 shortly after but that man Paul Mullin made it 3-2 with 86 minutes on the clock to become the first non-League player to score in the FA Cup rounds one to four, since Colin Williams did for Telford United during the 1984/85 season. Heartbreak struck in the dying moments as John Egan made it 3-3 with the game now heading to a replay at Bramble Lane. The winner will face Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur at home.
Woking moved up a place to third after just playing four games this month. They have 53 points from 27 games. This is The Cards greatest ever season since the 90’s at this stage of the campaign. It all got started with doing the double over Aldershot for the first time since the 2015/16 campaign, as they humiliated their rivals on Derby Day. Two quickfire second-half goals put the game out of reach for The Shots, meaning that the festive six points finally went to Woking in front of a record 5,297 home league attendance. The final score was 4-1. They then followed that up with a hard fought 1-2 win away to Dagenham & Redbridge. Their final game on the road was a 0-2 win against Scunthorpe United for the second time this season. They then had a two week break through cup competitions and unfortunate postponements but came back with a 1-1 draw at home to Torquay.
Chesterfield have got loads of games in hand on the three teams above them with 52 points from just 25 games. They started their new year off with a thumping 4-1 win at home to Scunthorpe United, despite going a goal down. Next up was their FA Cup Third Round tie at home to Championship side West Brom. In one of the most fascinating first 45 minutes of football, The Spireites went behind twice before taking a 3-2 lead going into the break. Brandon Thomas-Asante broke hearts in the 90+3rd minute to take it to a replay at The Hawthorns. They unfortunately were no match the second time round, falling to a 4-0 defeat. Chesterfield bounced back a week later with a 1-0 home win against Altrincham, thanks to a goal from Ashley Palmer in the 87th minute. Their month did end on a bad note though, as they were shocked by a 3-0 away defeat to Barnet. The club has a lot of catching up to do but are by no means out of the title race.
Barnet had a great month and find themselves with 47 points from 26 games. They started with a 1-1 draw away to Boreham Wood before another one against Gateshead. Striker Nicke Kabamba rescued a point in that one late on. In the FA Trophy, they beat Solihull Moors 0-2 to set up a Round Five tie away against Torquay, to be played in February. Next was that thumping 3-0 win at home to Chesterfield, thanks to a Kabamba hat-trick, just before his 30th birthday. They then finished their month win a convincing 0-2 win away to Eastleigh. Barnet are now nine league games unbeaten for the first time since 2015.
Bromley have seen better months, but this was by no means a bad one either. They currently have 40 points from 28 games. It started with a classic 0-0 at home to Southend before then losing 2-1 to Wrexham. Their only win from the month of January came when they smashed Yeovil 4-1. In their next match-up, the came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Aldershot, before another draw with Dagenham & Redbridge. Ben Krauhaus scored late on to make it 1-1. Their final game was a 1-1 draw away to Scunthorpe, a game that they’ll be disappointed with for sure.
Boreham Wood moved into the playoff spots this month. They have 39 points from 26 games and are above Dagenham & Redbridge on goal difference. They started with a 1-1 draw against Barnet before playing their FA Cup Third Round game at home to League One side Accrington Stanley. Lee Ndlovu grabbed his side a replay with then minutes left on the clock as the game finished 1-1. They then took an impressive point away to Notts County in a 1-1 draw before extra-time heart break saw them exit the FA Cup 1-0. They turned that disappointment into determination as they came back four days later to beat Altrincham 0-2 on the road. They finished their month with a 0-1 win against Aldershot as substitute Tyrone Marsh score with seven minutes left to move them up into the top seven.
Now at the other end of the table, we have the teams who are currently trying to fight off the idea of relegation next season.
Torquay United have actually had a brilliant month. They sit with 26 points from 28 games but have taken seven points from a possible 12 in January. It started with a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Yeovil Town but they picked up a vital 1-0 win at home to FC Halifax. They then beat local Vanarama National League South side Taunton Town 4-2 in the FA Trophy Fourth Round, to set up a home tie against Barnet. In a crucial six-pointer, they went on to beat Maidstone 1-0 thanks to a goal from Aaron Jarvis, then minutes from time. Finally, maybe their best result of the month came when they held high flyers Woking to a 1-1 draw.
Gateshead came into this month on the back of some good form and it carried over in January. They started with a 2-2 draw at home to York City but will have been distraught at conceding in the 90th minute. Next up they drew 1-1 with Barnet, and this time they conceded in the 88th minute to drop another two points. In the FA Trophy, they beat Oldham 3-1, with late goals from Robbie Tinkler and Greg Olley setting up a Fifth Round tie away to Vanarama National League North side Banbury United. They were no match when Wrexham came to town, losing that one 0-3 but finished their month strong with a crucial 1-2 win away to Wealdstone, thanks to goals from Danny Elliott and Adam Campbell.
Scunthorpe United are in serious trouble but there is now hope. They currently have 23 points from 29 games. They started with that 4-1 defeat to Chesterfield but then out of nowhere picked up three vital points when a Caolan Lavery’s hat-trick saw them beat Maidenhead 3-0. Woking added extra misery though when they beat The Iron 0-2 in the same week Scunthorpe was served a winding-up petition by HM Revenue and Customs over an alleged unpaid tax bill. However, it seemed that all the negativity surrounding the club might have vanished in the space of 24 hours as the club finally appointed a new chairmen who has settled all the clubs debt and went on to win 0-1 away to FC Halifax and win an away league game for the first time since Boxing Day 2021, 26 matches ago. They also then appointed a new manager so things really are on the up for them, the main challenge will be to avoid relegation, so them can re-build in the summer, to make the push back to the EFL. They finished the month with a 1-1 draw at home to Bromley.
Maidstone United are rock bottom of the league and had a horrendous month. They have 21 points from 30 games. It started with a 0-1 defeat against Dagenham & Redbridge before then being smashed 4-1 away to York. This result saw manager Hakan Hayrettin sacked a few days later. They did have that special FA Trophy penalty shoot out win over Notts County, so they will now face Eastleigh away from home in Round Five. Next was the 2-3 defeat at home to Wrexham and they then lost 0-3 at home to Aldershot in an extremely poor display. They finished the month with a 1-0 defeat on the road against Torquay.
Southend United's supporters' groups have said they have begun 'urgent exploratory work around the possibility of establishing a phoenix club to take the place of Southend United'. The winding-up case against the club will be considered on 1st March.
Kabongo Tshimanga finally got his move back into the EFL, as he joined Peterborough United. He scored 31 league goals in a season & a half for Chesterfield, despite his injury & 38 goals in his two seasons at Boreham Wood before that.
Finally, a 400 mile round trip from Altrincham to Yeovil Town was called off with just under 90 minutes notice.