Can Athletic extend their lead- or will the Magpies or Witham take over at the top?

By Ian Townsend

It's still tight at both ends, and we have intrigue aplenty in our Pitching In Isthmian North Division programme this weekend

Grays Athletic swept to the top of the table in midweek, but they know that to stay there they are likely to need to pick up at least a point as they travel to Coggeshall Town. Athletic are our top scorers as well as having by far the best goal difference, whilst the Seed Growers haven’t yet kept a clean sheet this season- but with Sam Bantick in form they always have a dangerous outlet and seem to be finally finding some consistency. For Athletic, David Knight and Anointed Chukwu have five goals each- but they’ll need to turn recent history on its head, as Town have won three of the last four meetings between the sides, the other ending in a draw.

Fourth place Dereham Town will be looking to pounce if Grays slip up, the Magpies two points behind and hosting Basildon United. Town won, impressively, at third place AFC Sudbury in midweek, and seem to be back in the groove, whilst the Bees are four without a victory- but given two of those were against Premier Division Wingate & Finchley, and the other two against the third place yellows and fifth place Witham Town, that might not tell us too much.

Witham host Bury Town. The hosts have confounded expectations so far, with only one league defeat, whilst the visitors were highly-fancied but have done the opposite, although they have been hit hard by injuries which have undoubtedly had an impact. With four points from their last two matches perhaps the upsurge in fortune has begun for the Ram Meadow side, who could climb as high as fifth tomorrow with victory. Witham have higher aims- a win for them could see them hit the top spot.

We only have two unbeaten sides, Barking- who are in cup action- and Canvey Island, who host a Hullbridge Sports side who travel with only one point and five defeats from six matches so far this season. It looks a home banker, but that point came impressively two matches ago when they shut out Aveley, so perhaps they can do the same to the Gulls? Canvey stuck four past Hashtag United last weekend and look in fine form- perhaps this might be their year?

Over at the Len Salmon we have Hashtag United versus Felixstowe and Walton United. The Tags will be cock-a-hoop (there’s an expression you don’t hear too often!) after walloping title favourites Maldon & Tiptree for their first win of the campaign, whilst the Seasiders weren’t too shabby in midweek either, scoring four at Hullbridge Sports. This could be a cracker!

Finally, Aveley host managerless Heybridge Swifts- who saw Julian Dicks depart in midweek. Swifts have had a terrible start to the campaign, with the entirely wrong kind of one hundred percent record; whilst the Millers haven’t yet set the world alight and are without a win in their last four- although with that strikeforce you can’t help but suspect that someone is going to get a walloping sometime soon. The home fans will hope that will be tomorrow.

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Where next?

A Titanic Top Two Tussle! We only have four matches in the Pitching In Isthmian South Central Division- but it’s not about quantity, just quality!
All Premier roads lead to Brightlingsea…or the Bar! Because of the FA Cup, we have only two Premier Division matches- as Regent and the Scholars host the Rooks and the Rocks

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