With Christmas coming up and all sides being pretty much at the halfway point in their season, the promotion race is extremely tight. Here are the six sides that I think have a good chance of promotion at this stage.
The Darts currently sit top of the league having scored the most goals this season. 43 goals in 21 games means they just edge out their other seven promotion rivals for that top spot. It was a slow and frustrating start for Dartford, who had to settle for three draws to start off their season. However, the signing of Alfie Pavey made a huge difference as they won their next three. Pavey has the third best minute to goal ratio in the league and captain Elliot Bradbrook has chipped in with goals to when needed. Their highlight of the season so far was Dartford’s 7-1 win over Oxford City, with the low point being the heavy defeat away to mid table Weston-Super-Mare.
Dartford certainly have a good shout for promotion and the recent signing of Danny Mills from Ebbsfleet on loan won’t do any harm but they’ll have to improve their away form. 18 out of the 25 points Dartford haven’t got this season are from away games, which is something they’ll have to improve if they want top spot.
Braintree sit 2nd in the league, behind Dartford on goal difference. The Iron have an average of two goals per game, having scored 42 goals in 21 games. It was a mixed but mainly positive start for Braintree this season, wining four of their first seven games, drawing two of the others, leaving them in the playoffs. The Iron’s recent form is not great, however, winning just one of their last four, losing two of them. Striker, Phillip Roberts has played a massive part in getting Braintree up the table. He is the top scorer so far scoring 14 goals. He also has the best minute to goal ratio, scoring once every 116 minutes. The high point in their season would have been the 5-0 win at home to Hungerford with the low point perhaps losing 5-3 at East Thurrock.
Braintree again have a solid shout for that top spot but will have to improve their defence if they’re going to do so. They’ve conceded the most goals out of the top seven and this has often cost them points, losing 4-3 and 5-3 this season.
Hampton and Richmond
Hampton and Richmond are also level with Dartford and Braintree on 38 points and are behind both on goal difference. It was a very slow and bad start for Hampton and Richmond winning just two of their opening eight games. However, eight wins in a row means they have shot up the table and have pulled level with the front runners and if they can keep up the run they will pull away from other title challengers. The sensational run started with a 1-3 win away at Whitehawk on 21st October and have since then not dropped any league points. The most recent victory was the largest, as they thrashed East Thurrock 5-1 on the weekend. The high point so far for them was probably the 5-1 thrashing of East Thurrock, with the low point being a 0-1 defeat at home to Havant near the start of the season which was the third consecutive loss.
Currently, I would put Hampton and Richmond as favourites for the title. Simply because they look unstoppable at the moment and are right now the most consistent team in the league. To win the league they just simply have to keep up this form.
Havant and Waterlooville
Havant and Waterlooville currently sit in 4th, two points behind the top three. However, they crucially have a game in hand over those above them. The Hawks had a solid start to their season, picking up five wins from nine and are also on good form recently too, unbeaten in their last seven. They’ve also got the second best defence in the league, conceding just 18 goals in 20 games. The high point of the season would probably an extremely impressive 1-3 win away at Braintree, with the low point being the 1-2 home loss against fellow promotion hopefuls Truro.
Havant seem to be very consistent and never really been in great form or poor form. To win the league they’ll have to keep up the consistency as that is going to be the difference between those who go up and those who don’t.
Chelmsford also sit on 36 points with Havant and have a game in hand over those above them so could move top or second. The Clarets had a great start winning six of their first seven, leaving them top of the league. However, they slid down the table after failing to win in their next five after that. They have the best defence in the league, conceding just 16 in their first 20 matches but have scored by far the least out of the top seven. The high point of the season would be perhaps beating top of the league Dartford 1-0. The low point would be the 1-2 home defeat against East Thurrock as it was at a time they just could not win.
To win the league they have to improve their strikeforce. The defence is extremely impressive but their attack will have to improve some way otherwise it’s unlikely in my eyes they’ll win the league.
Hemel are currently on 35 points and in 6th place but like Chelmsford and Havant have a game in hand over the top three. They got off to a strong start winning three of the first four but then failed to win in the next four after that. The Tudors seem quite a solid side all over the pitch. They also have very similar home and away records, suggesting that they are just as strong at home as they are away. The high point of their season would be in their last match thrashing Whitehawk 5-0. The low point would be getting heavily beaten 5-1 at Chippenham.
Hemel would perhaps need to add a bit more quality if they are to win the league. They seem quite a well-rounded side with no major strengths or weaknesses, but perhaps compared to the likes of Dartford and Braintree don’t have that firepower to get top-spot.