The National League Season Review: What Went On In August?

By Sam Elliott

Each week during the summer break we will be reviewing the season month-by-month. Let's whet the appetite for August with a look back at what happened in the opening month of last season in all three divisions.

National League:

After securing a raft of highly impressive summer signings, Salford City were the name on most people’s lips heading into the new campaign.

With acquisitions such as Adam Rooney and Danny Lloyd expectations were certainly high. Who knew back then the importance of the opening day game with Leyton Orient. On a red hot day a late Liam Hogan own goal salvaged a 1-1 draw for the would-be champions. How different things could have been.

Things didn’t improve for the title favourites as defeats followed at Gateshead and Sutton.
One team nobody was talking about in terms of great ambition during the summer were FC Halifax. But they ended August on top.

Thanks to fine wins over Braintree, Barrow, Maidstone, Dagenham and Gateshead it was Jamie Fullarton’s Shaymen who set the early pace.

Wrexham weren’t far behind as Sam Ricketts got his teeth into his new team early but they ended August with a defeat at another club few people were speaking about. They soon would be. Alex Gudger’s late winner for Solihull Moors made many take notice as Tim Flowers’ team enjoyed a healthy start.

The same couldn’t be said of Dagenham & Redbridge. After a turbulent summer, it wasn’t a surprise to see an early struggle.Peter Taylor’s team went down to six damaging defeats against Boreham Wood, Maidstone, Aldershot, Halifax, Hartlepool and Barnet in the first four weeks.

National League North:

York City were again tipped by many to be challengers and after a bundle of new signings, expectation began to build – perhaps too much for boss Martin Gray who paid the ultimate price for dropping precious early points.

Belief may have been fading in North Yorkshire but in Lancashire, Jamie Vermiglio’s Chorley side were causing a stir. The shock departure of Matt Jansen in the close season seemingly galvanizing the Magpies who became the pace setters after notching seven-straight wins to finish the month with a five-point lead at the summit.

Incredibly, last season’s championship-winning duo Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson found themselves back in the division, this time with Chester. However, their plans were uprooted by a devastating flood at the Deva Stadium. A resounding 8-1 mauling at the hands of Blyth Spartans did little to appease fans’ concerns.

Gavin Cowan got stuck into life as AFC Telford United boss with fine wins over Southport, Brackley Town, Spennymoor Town and Chester boosting the Bucks early on.

Billy Heath’s Alfreton Town clear-out started to bare fruit as the month came to a close, a rampant Tom Denton dragging the Reds kicking and screaming to four wins from seven.

Meanwhile, a less than impressive start to the season saw FC United of Manchester legend Tom Greaves walk away from the club.

National League South:

Billericay Town arrived and their owner wasn’t keen to go under the radar. Telling the National League’s website that it was likely the club would win the league, Glenn Tamplin made some big additions such as Callum Kennedy and Adam Coombes.

But it was Jake Robinson who threw down the gauntlet to their rivals after netting four goals in their season opener with Truro City – a defeat that put the writing on the wall for Lee Hodges who was relieved of his duties after just two games.

Woking and new boss Alan Dowson were determined not to be a support act and finished the month top of the pile after wins over East Thurrock, St Albans, Oxford City, Hemel Hempstead, Truro and Eastbourne.

The Cards were certainly adjusting to life better than Torquay United who ended the month in the bottom half without a win in four outings.

Concord Rangers were making sure not many teams wanted to be beside the seaside, mainly thanks to Jack Midson and Alex Wall. The pair almost single-handedly grabbed wins over Hungerford, Gloucester and Dulwich Hamlet as the Beachboys enjoyed a fine start to the season.

Where next?

Weaver Gets To Work And Makes Big New Signing Harrogate Town have done their first bit of business this summer as they look to put up another fight for promotion next season.
Pratt's Back! Collier Re-Captures Fans' Favourite Chippenham manager Mark Collier has challenged David Pratt to make his homecoming one to remember.

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