Bromley v Maidstone United
A game between two sides having decent campaigns but with managers who still believe their teams have more to offer as the season goes on.
Bromley come into the game in 10th place – they would have been in the top seven had they not let a one-goal lead slip at York City in midweek. Despite frustrations over results (four wins and three losses from eight matches), the Ravens have performed well so far, either drawing or winning the xG battle in every league match this term. They were beaten on opening day but responded with four straight clean sheets. Their last three matches have seen them concede seven goals but that can be put down to losing their first-choice back three and the experienced Billy Bingham at some point during that run. They are all fit now and ready to help Bromley extend their unbeaten home record – they have won three, drawn one and conceded one goal on home turf.
Maidstone have won three and lost three of their eight matches with performances mixed – Hayrettin believes his side would not have lost against Dorking Wanderers had he been on the touchline but admitted his team are still learning after a loss at Gateshead and draw with Wealdstone. They have picked up four points on the road from their four matches, their only victory coming against lowly Aldershot Town. They have been second best in their other three away matches and also went into midweek without their first-choice centre-backs available – it will be tough for an unorthodox back line to cope with Corey Whitely, Michael Cheek and Adam Marriott, seasoned National League campaigners.
I’m backing the home victory in this one.
Dorking Wanderers v Notts County
There are two versions of this match. There’s the version where Dorking make it chaotic and both sides attack each other at will. There’s the more likely version where Notts County take control and pop the ball around for fun against inferior opposition. I’m backing the latter to happen.
Luke Williams has made an excellent start to life at Meadow Lane, his side unbeaten and coming into this fixture having won each of the last four and kept clean sheets in their last three. They have also scored in every league fixture so far and won the xG battle in six – it’s little wonder they have accrued the second highest xG total and best xGA records in the National League to date. It helps that ex-Gateshead man Macaulay Langstaff has started the season on fire with ten goals in eight matches while his former team-mate Cedwyn Scott has joined in on the action of late with three in his first four league starts. They also showed the depth of their squad last time out, ably replacing Richard Brindley and Aden Baldwin with Geraldo Bajrami and Connell Rawlinson.
That’s the kind of depth Dorking Wanderers can only dream of. Admittedly, they have a few more injuries to contend with. Ed Harris, Jamie Cheadle, Niall McManus, Alfie Rutherford and Matt Briggs were amongst those missing while the experienced Callum Kennedy is also struggling for fitness. It meant two players playing out of position and a first league start for Harry Ottaway. They did win their midweek clash at Barnet but still conceded a number of chances and they won’t be so fortunate against a ruthless Magpies outfit. Dorking have the second worst average xGA in the National League and their record against the current top five is miserable – four matches, three losses and 14 conceded.
There will be space for Notts County to exploit and they will exploit it.
Gateshead v Boreham Wood
In terms of general performance this season, there isn’t a huge amount between Gateshead and Boreham Wood. However, one comes into the game in the bottom four and the other in the top five.
Mike Williamson has bravely stuck to his principles this season despite stepping up a division and losing his prolific front-pairing who are now banging in goals for fun at Notts County. The Heed have caused problems for their opposition this term but have won just one match – against Maidstone United who are also newly promoted. The rawness in their backline doesn’t help – goalkeeper Dan Langley, centre-back Jevon Mills and left-back Owen Gallacher joined Gateshead with a combined 12 career starts.
Boreham Wood haven’t been stellar but they are typically getting the better of tight margins matches more often than not – they have already kept four clean sheets and come into this game having won four of their last five and each of their last three. They have lost only once this term. Boreham Wood are what Gateshead aren’t. They’re experienced, extremely organised and one of the most physically adept outfits in the league.
While Gateshead are giving away the third highest xG per shot, The Wood are giving away the fourth lowest xG per shot. They don’t make it easy for their opposition and that’s why I think they come away with all three points or, at the minimum, a point this weekend.
Solihull Moors v Barnet
The expectation was that Solihull Moors would find the start of this season tough and would have to work their way into the campaign having finished the last one so late and in cruel fashion. However, their quality is evident. Neal Ardley’s side have scored 22 goals in their eight league matches – only Wrexham have scored more. They have won four of their last five, only succumbing at Notts County. In those four victories, they have scored four, three, five and four goals. And during that run, they have afforded a rest to vice-captain Callum Howe and leading forwards Joe Sbarra and Andrew Dallas, all of whom likely start this weekend.
Barnet have gone the other way. After a bright start, in which they won three of their first four, they have since lost three of their last four, conceding in every match and struggling to look quite as lively going forward without Ephron Mason-Clark, who has joined Peterborough United. The Bees now have the third worst xGA in the National League and are averaging 2.09xGA since a dominant opening day display. They have conceded in all four away matches and at least two in three of those, including three in their last two.
Dean Brennan has been unhappy with how his defence are moving the ball and any errors on Saturday will be punished by a lightning quick and technical attack.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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