FANS' ZONE 22/10/2020
THREE WINS ON THE SPIN - BUT COULD GOAL DIFFERENCE BE IMPORTANT BY THE END OF THE SEASON?
Three league wins on the spin and one narrow defeat, second in the early table - what’s not to like? If being picky is allowed, had Dover lost the game last Saturday by at least 5-0 as United’s chances and misses began to stack up indicated they should, then the Gulls would be sitting top, on goal difference, as we go into FA Cup week.
During the summer Gary Johnson said it would be important to accumulate as many points as quickly as possible in case the season is curtailed early. So has the National League formally adopted the points per game formula as part of the rules for this season? And if so how many matches have to be played for this scenario to kick in? Winning matches as conclusively as possible is going to be vital as goal difference could be crucial - finishing top rather than second with automatic promotion at stake.
As we move towards winter, it seems likely that coronavirus cases will increase with more footballers potentially being affected and matches called off. This was highlighted last weekend when a Barnet player tested positive resulting in their home match being postponed late Friday evening after Hartlepool had already travelled to North London. By Sunday, Barnet sent out a statement saying more than one player was affected But Notts County, probably now wishing they hadn’t as they lost 2-3, played their home game against Maidenhead despite having four players testing positive.
It would seem the National League needs to urgently issue clear guidance about the protocol for postponing matches due to Covid positive tests as currently clubs can effectively make their own decisions but any club could call off a match if they have a key player(s) missing.
The integrity of the competition would then be compromised if any club is tempted to abuse this loophole. It will, then, be important to avoid a fixture pile-up especially as FA Cup and Trophy matches are about to be added into the mix.
One match day bonus is that with numerous sanitised balls dotted around touchlines, the games have speeded up as the ball is quickly back in play so there is more actual football to watch.
United will have received news on Wednesday telling them that as an ex-Football League club and based on average attendances, they will be receiving £95,000 a month over the next three months from the Government/National Lottery £10million grant to the National League. Six other former League sides will be given the same amount although Aldershot, Dagenham & Redbridge and Barnet are not so lucky as they and all the others in the NL will receive £84,000 a month while teams in North & South will get less. As part of the deal when stadiums are open again National Lottery players will be offered free tickets and VIP tours of Wembley Stadium.
United’s FA Cup record over the past few years has been pretty disappointing going out last season at the first attempt at Maidstone. This time round it’s a trip to Southern League Division One South Sholing, with £9,375 going to the winning side.
So who are Sholing? Maybe some of their own fans might ask the same question as they’ve had four name changes in their history. Known as The Boatmen, this Hampshire side started in 1884 as Woolston Works. After the First World War they re-formed as Thornycrofts playing in the Hampshire County League and their moment in the limelight came in 1920 when they played Division One Burnley in the FA Cup in front of 10,000 at Fratton Park drawing 0-0 before losing the replay.
In 1960 as Vosper Thornycroft FC they played in the Southampton Junior League until 2010 when they became Sholing FC. Their greatest moment came in 2014 when they defeated West Auckland 1-0 in the FA Vase Final at Wembley.
Player to watch: Dan Mason who, in the 2018-19 season, scored 64 goals in all competitions and last season he netted 21; he has seven so far this season, including the only goal in their 1-0 Hampshire Cup Final win over Lymington Town on Tuesday evening.
Kyle Cameron appeared, for the second week, in the National League Team of the Day, after the Dover victory. His performances have been eye catching and, if he hasn’t already, he must be attracting interest from clubs higher up the pyramid.
Good to see United’s live streaming on Saturday has filled the half-time void but more acknowledgement of the visiting side would be a further addition as fans from those clubs are watching too. Bromley announced 700 watching when United played there; perhaps these attendance figures could become the norm.
Thanks to those who have sent in their Title Tip for the National League; seems many are agreeing with this column’s tip for the Gulls.
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To the Yellow Army stay safe - and keep streaming.
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