Another month of top-level non-league football has come and gone, so it’s time for The Vanarama National League November round-up. Sit tight and get comfy, as step five has had yet another crazy period that nobody can ever predict.
Wrexham are our new leaders at the top, as they went their entire month with tasting defeat. They have 46 points from 20 games and are ahead of Notts County by just one point. The month started with a 1-0 win over Maidenhead United, before beating league rivals Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup First Round 3-0. Just three days later, they defeated the other side who were relegated from League Two last season in Scunthorpe United. Goals from Ollie Palmer, Aaron Hayden and Paul Mullin helped the Welsh side to a 1-3 win on the road.
They did have a small blip when they travelled the Wealdstone on Saturday 12th, due to a 0-0 draw. However, they were back to winning ways when they faced Aldershot Town a week later, winning by two goals to the good. To round off the month, they beat Vanarama National League South side Farnborough Town in the FA Cup Second Round, thanks to a hat-trick from lethal striker Paul Mullin and a fourth from the highest paid player in the league, Elliot Lee. They have been drawn to Championship side Coventry City away from home for the Third Round.
Notts County also went the entire month without defeat but had a couple of draws along the way, dropping them to second. They have 45 points from 20 games and are still neck and neck with Wrexham at the top. They got their month underway with a 1-1 draw at home to Bromley before then taking another point a week later away to Southend United. This game finished 2-2 and saw The Magpies lose a leading position twice. The finally picked up their first November win when goals from Adam Chicksen and Ruben Rodrigues saw County win away to Eastleigh.
In their final game of the month, they broke the Vanarama National League attendance record, setting an outstanding 16,511! This is more than what Premier League side AFC Bournemouth have. They broke their own figure, set the year before but the game didn’t live up to the excitement in the stands as it finished 0-0.
Chesterfield are, you guessed it, another team to have gone the month undefeated. They have 40 points from 19 games, meaning they have a game in hand on the team teams above. They got November started with a 2-1 victory over Gateshead after coming from a goal behind. They then beat League Two side Northampton Town 1-0 in the FA Cup First Round thanks to an early goal from Armando Dobra. Their first game on the road saw them beat strugglers Torquay United 1-5, which was level at half time. Four goals in the second half showed a real statement of intent from The Spireites.
In arguably their biggest league fixture of the month, they beat Solihull Moors 2-0 with a goal in each half of the game. They finished with their second FA Cup upset against another League Two side as they beat AFC Wimbledon 0-2, this time away from home. Dobra has scored in every round of the tournament that Chesterfield have played so far this season. The Spireites are into the Third Round for the second year in a row and will face Championship side West Brom at home.
Woking have moved up to fourth and now find themselves unbeaten in seven league games. They have 37 points from 20 games. That is already four more points than they achieved in the entirety of the 2020/21 season. They started the month with a 1-0 win against Yeovil Town, thanks to a late goal from Irishman Padraig Amond. They followed that up with another clean sheet and three points, beating Bromley 0-2. That was their first ever 90-minute win at Hayes Lane.
Just three days later, they went on to beat playoff rivals Boreham Wood 0-1, thanks to a goal from the in-form Reece Grego-Cox. Now, The Cards did lose their next game which was against League One side Oxford United in the FA Cup First Round 1-2 but put in one hell of a shift. The game could very easily have gone to a replay, on a night were the rain just continued to hammer down throughout the contest. Despite Rohan Ince levelling the score, it was the EFL side who progressed into the next round.
The final game of the month finished 1-1 at home to Altrincham, thanks to a 90th minute equaliser from Amond, after he converted a free kick into the top right-hand corner. They have an eight-point gap to eighth and a five-point gap to the team behind them.
Southend United have had an up and down month, taking seven points from a possible 15. They have 33 points from 21 games. They stared with a brilliant 0-3 win against Barnet, before the 2-2 draw with Notts County. They then went onto beat Dorking Wanderers 2-0. Those seven points from that period was actually very good, but it soon went downhill from there.
Firstly, they were humiliated by relegation spot holders Gateshead 3-1 and then secondly, they lost to another struggling side Aldershot Town 2-0. They will be hoping to find their October form soon, otherwise they will find themselves falling down the table very quickly.
Barnet also have 33 points but have a game in hand on Southend. They, of course, started with that 0-3 loss to Southend and then had another wobble when they conceded at late goal to Vanarama National League side Chelmsford City in the FA Cup First Round to take the game to a replay after the 1-1 draw. They were back to winning ways though when they beat Altrincham 0-2 on the road.
Once again, The Bees were the travelling side and again, won 0-2, this time against Oldham Athletic. In that FA Cup replay, they came out on top and won 0-1, thanks to a late goal from Idris Kanu, despite Sam Woods being sent off. Another 1-0 victory did the job, with these three points coming from the win at home to Torquay. They finished their month win a narrow 1-0 defeat to League One side Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup Second Round.
Solihull Moors are the last side inside the playoff spots in seventh but didn’t win a single game in November. They have 30 points from 20 games. In fact, they are on a streak of seven games without a win in all competitions. It started at the end of October but continued when they drew away to relegation candidates Maidstone United. That game finished 0-0. They then faced League Two’s bottom side Hartlepool United in the FA Cup First Round and drew once again, this time 2-2.
Back to league action, they lost at home to a slightly rejuvenated FC Halifax Town 0-1 and then Dagenham & Redbridge 0-3. Their FA Cup replay finished 1-1 this time, taking it to penalties where the EFL side won 4-3 after Kyle Storer and Josh Kelly missed both their spot kicks. They finished their month with that 2-0 defeat to Chesterfield. Like Southend, they will need to find their old form soon, otherwise the playoffs will seem like miles away.
Now at the other end of the table, we have the teams who are currently trying to fight off the idea of relegation next year.
Gateshead have moved up a place, but consequently still find themselves in the bottom four after just one win this month. They have 17 points from 20 games played. Their first game was that 2-1 defeat to Chesterfield but in their second, they put on a battling display against League Two highflyers Stevenage in the FA Cup First Round. They were 0-2 down but got it back all square, before conceding again to lose 2-3.
In their next game, they made their second longest trip of the season to face Yeovil Town and did manage to take the lead through Will Harris but went on to lose the game 3-1. As previously mentioned, they got that important 3-1 win against Southend before then settling for a point against fellow strugglers Torquay.
Oldham Athletic could be on course for the biggest shock as the ex-Premier League side sit 22nd in the league and are yet to win a single game way from home. They also only have 17 points but in fairness, they have only played 18 games. In fact, this November, they only played three games and one of them was that FA Cup defeat to Wrexham. They lost 0-2 to Barnet and drew 0-0 away to Maidstone.
There is still a long way to go in this crazy season but if The Latics were to go down, this would be bigger than when York City had back-to-back relegations and would be a shock to the step six sides.
Scunthorpe United, the fellow side relegated last season along with Oldham, are also yet to win a single game away from home so far this season. They have just 15 points to their name from 21 games. In November, The Iron played five games and lost five games. It started with a 2-0 defeat to Eastleigh and then a 1-3 loss to Wrexham.
They then continued to lose 0-2 and 2-1 against Maidstone and Dagenham respectively. They finished off their miserable month with a dismal 3-1 defeat to Wealdstone. Their league record since the start of the 2018/19 season is as followed: Played 196 | Won 42 | Drew 49 | Lost 105 | Points 175/588. That is disgraceful!
Torquay United are still in last place, also with only 15 points from 21 games. The strange part is, they actually started the month with a thumping 6-1 win at home to Aldershot in which they were winning 5-0 by the 48th minute. They then held League One side Derby County to a 2-2 draw after being two goals down in the FA Cup First Round thanks to a 90+5th minute equaliser from Will Goodwin. It doesn’t finish there, as they then drew 3-3 with Dorking Wanderers after being 1-3 down.
From these three games, you wouldn’t think this is the side sat at the very bottom of the league. The next four games however, maybe you would. They lost 1-5 to Chesterfield before then being beat away at Pride Park to Derby County in the FA Cup replay 5-0. The 1-0 defeat to Barnet was after that, with them finishing their month off with the 1-1 draw against Gateshead. These are seriously worrying times for The Gulls as they could be looking at another spell in the Vanarama National League South.
Other notable mentions must go to Boreham Wood and Dagenham & Redbridge who are still in the FA Cup with The Wood at home to Accrington Stanley in the Third Round and Dagenham at home to Premier League side Leicester City, if they can beat League Two strugglers Gillingham in their replay.
I for one cannot wait for December to get going, to see who lies where at Christmas time. The Isuzu FA Trophy will also get underway for Vanarama National League sides towards the end of the month!