The topsy-turvy nature of the season where any team can beat any team was perfectly illustrated in Tuesday evening's game at Earlsmead between Harrow Borough and Tonbridge Angels. Going into the game the home side were bottom of the table with just one win in their last six league games with the visitors in sixth place just below the play-off zone coming off the back of an excellent 1-2 win at Dulwich Hamlet at the weekend. Harrow's team worked hard with goalkeeper Luke Williams making two excellent saves in the first half and David Taylor scoring the only goal of the game in the second half to give Steve Baker's side a fantastic victory. The win lifted Borough off the bottom of the table moving above both Grays Athletic and Canvey Island in the table.
In fact if you look at the defensive record of Harrow Borough it's one of the best in the division - they have only conceded 1.37 goals per game which is less than play-off/title chasing Dulwich Hamlet (1.52) and Leiston (1.53) amongst others. It looks even better when you see they have lost games 0-3 (first game of the season away at Folkestone), 0-5 (away at Merstham) and 0-4 at home against Kingstonian. Not including these three games it goes down to 0.75 goals per game. If they can continue this good record they have a good chance of staying up but will need to up their goal scoring as they are the only side to be under 1 goals scored per game - They have scored 0.84 goals per game with the next worse being Grays Athletic on 1.16 gpg.
At the start of the season I don't think anyone would of thought Needham Market would of been top of the table at Christmas with just four defeats in twenty-four games played - The Market Men won fifty-one points in forty-six games played last season so just need to get five more points to equal this record which will be an amazing achievement. Their defeats have come against Leiston at home (0-4), Harlow Town (1-5 away), Tonbridge Angels (0-2 at home) and Merstham away from home which ended 1-4.
The promoted sides in Worthing (13th), Folkestone Invicta (12th), Harlow Town (9th) and AFC Sudbury (14th) will all be very pleased with their seasons so far. If they keep those positions I think they will be happy with that and will be able to push on next season towards the play-off zone.
The relegation zone is made up of Hendon, Harrow Borough, Canvey Island and Grays Athletic - the likelihood is that at least one or two of these teams will finish in the drop zone but with just ten points separating twelfth placed Folkestone Invicta and currently bottom of the table Grays Athletic so there is all to play for going into 2017.
The below table shows the current top five's record in matches played against the current top five. It shows Leiston have played four times against their title rivals with Bognor's forthcoming local derby game against Havant only the second time they have played against a current top five side this season.
TABLE - TOP FIVE v TOP FIVE
There is a saying in football that 'strikers win games but defenders win leagues' - here are the current top three and bottom three in the goals scored per game and goals conceded per game figures -
GOALS PER GAME AND GOALS CONCEDED PER GAME
TOP THREE AND BOTTOM THREE ONLY
There are some huge games coming up on Boxing Day with one of the games of the season coming in the aforementioned local derby game between Bognor Regis Town and Havant and Waterlooville at West Leigh Park likely to be played in front of a huge crowd as third plays second in the table. Hendon (21st) v Harrow Borough (22nd) has the look of a real relegation six pointer as the home side are still looking for a home league win at Silver Jubilee Park this season - It'll be Harrow's first game against the current bottom four.
Harrow Borough will look to improve their away goal scoring record in their Boxing Day - they have only scored four in their seven league games played away from Earlsmead.
Mid-Table Kingstonian (10th) & Staines Town (11th) have both lost thirteen games each - Only bottom of the table Grays Athletic have lost more with fifteen defeats to their name.
Top of the recent form table are Metropolitan Police with four wins and two draws in their last six games - a run which has lifted them out of the relegation zone.
Top of the table Needham Market are second in the form table having won four, drawn one and lost one of their last six. They have conceded twelve goals which equates to two per game which is well up on their figure of 1.28 per game over their first eighteen games.
Hendon and Billericay Town are bottom of the current form table with just two points gained from the last eighteen available via two draws - Hendon have conceded eighteen goals in their last six.
TABLE - BOTTOM FOUR v BOTTOM FOUR
Kingstonian's Ryan Moss leads the goal-scoring charts on sixteen goals scored - He has scored eight times in his last five league appearances for The K's. Ex Dagenham & Redbridge and Great Yarmouth Town striker Jake Reed is in second place on thirteen goals scored. They'll have to go some to equal or beat last season's top scorer Sam Higgins of East Thurrock United who hit the back of the net thirty-eight times.
Why not get out over the Christmas and New Year period and support your local side?
RYMAN PREMIER FORTHCOMING FIXTURES
3pm KO unless stated
Bognor Regis Town v Havant & Waterlooville 3pm
Burgess Hill Town v Worthing 12pm
Canvey Island v Billericay Town 1pm
Enfield Town v Harlow Town 1pm
Hendon v Harrow Borough
Kingstonian v Merstham
Leatherhead v Metropolitan Police
Lowestoft Town v Leiston
Needham Market v AFC Sudbury 1pm
Tonbridge Angels v Folkestone Invicta
Wingate & Finchley v Staines Town
TUESDAY 27th DECEMBER
Grays Athletic v Dulwich Hamlet - 3pm
FRIDAY 30th DECEMBER
Billericay Town v Needham Market - 7.45pm
SATURDAY 31st DECEMBER
3pm KO unless stated
AFC Sudbury v Canvey Island 1pm
Dulwich Hamlet v Wingate & Finchley 1pm
Folkestone Invicta v Grays Athletic 1pm
Harlow Town v Leatherhead
Harrow Borough v Lowestoft Town 1pm
Havant & Waterlooville v Kingstonian
Leiston v Enfield Town 1.30pm
Merstham v Burgess Hill Town
Metropolitan Police v Bognor Regis Town 1pm
Staines Town v Hendon 1pm
Worthing v Tonbridge Angels
MONDAY 2nd JANUARY
3pm KO unless stated
AFC Sudbury v Lowestoft Town
Billericay Town v Tonbridge Angels
Dulwich Hamlet v Hendon
Folkestone Invicta v Burgess Hill Town
Harlow Town v Canvey Island
Harrow Borough v Enfield Town
Havant & Waterlooville v Wingate & Finchley
Leiston v Needham Market
Merstham v Leatherhead
Metropolitan Police v Kingstonian
Staines Town v Grays Athletic
Worthing v Bognor Regis Town 1pm