GW 17 – Ones to Watch

Ally: This weekend sees the inclusion of the FA Trophy First Round fixtures due to the presence of our regular National League sides, so it only seems right that I dip my toe in and make the most of the opportunity to highlight a couple of teams that don’t generally feature too regularly on these pages.

First up is the clash which pits two National League South sides together in the shape of Havant & Waterlooville and Braintree. Hosts Havant currently occupy the final play off spot, and find themselves in a strong position having anywhere between one and four games in hand on all the sides around them. Braintree make the trip to Hampshire in the unenviable position of propping up the league table with just 7 points to show from their 10 matches so far. By contrast Havant have accumulated 10 more points and have managed that feat in one game less, though interestingly 6 of their 9 games so far have been at home. Fortunately The Hawks are a strong proposition at the Draper Tools Community Stadium, scoring 12 goals and drawing a blank on just one occasion to average 2 goals per game so far this season. Quite what priority manager Lee Bradbury will place upon this competition remains to be seen, but if he selects a strong side the form book points towards home advantage and a passage into the next round.

Keeping up with the FA Trophy theme, my next selection sees National League side Aldershot Town travel to Hertfordshire to face Southern League Division One Central outfit Welwyn Garden City at Herns Way. The hosts are in the 8th tier of the football league pyramid, whereas Aldershot were football league members as recently as 2013 before falling on hard times once again. However there are still three divisions between the sides, and The Shots will be surely be aiming to expose the gulf in quality despite a somewhat uninspiring start to their National League campaign which sees them occupy a lowly 17th place after 13 games, but a glimmer of hope is that they have fared far better on the road than they have at home, scoring twice as many goals (12 out of 18) in the league. This is a potential banana skin of a tie for Aldershot, but if they take the competition seriously and with the right attitude, their quality should come to the fore and we could see a hatful of goals. Good luck with your selections.