Our start to life in the Northern Premier League has been nothing short of phenomenal as we only dropped 10 points out of an available 30, marching into the the Play-Off spots in 4th place after the season’s first ten games.
We went through all of our preseason campaign unbeaten, even against 5th-tier outfit Barrow as our new midfield signing from Wolves Hugo Lopes wowed fans with some sensational performances as he took over the reins from Scott Scholes in the middle. Our first league game against Darlington at the end of July was also a great triumph, winning by a 4-0 scoreline as Hugo Lopes and Brahima Diarra got on the scoresheet on their competitive debuts.
The start of August was met with a tough 1-1 draw which was well fought out by both sides as Diarra scored the leveller against Warrington Town. That draw set the precedent for us to win five games out of seven throughout August, with our most impressive performance coming against Gateshead as we dominated the Tynesiders in a 4-1 win thanks to a Hugo Lopes hat-trick. We advanced in the FA Cup in August against 8th-tier City of Liverpool in the Preliminary Round.
September got off to an emphatic start with a resounding 7-1 victory over Coalville Town in the FA Cup with five different scorers for us including first goals for Leigh Bricknell and Will Russ. An unlikely goalscorer in left-back Matty Downing provided a brace against Gainsborough Trinity in a 4-1 victory at Old Boston Road. Following these two games, we dropped points against mid-table Scarborough Athletic and were even knocked out in the First Round of the Integro League Cup by Ramsbottom United in a deserved 3-2 win for them. Despite getting back on track by advancing once more in the FA Cup against Hitchin Town, we suffered our second loss of the league season in a 3-2 defeat at the hands of 2nd placed Stalybridge Celtic.
As far as the league table goes, there is certainly a large top-bottom divide being created but league leaders Workington are still only five points ahead of 9th placed Blyth Spartans. Workington and Warrington Town remain the only two teams unbeaten in the league this season after ten games, despite being four places apart.
We sit in the Play-Off places, using Warrington Town as protection against the oncoming Matlock, Whickham, Darlington and Blyth who are all at most three points behind us in 4th.
For arguably the biggest side in the league in terms of following, Gateshead are beginning to struggle as they sit only two points above the third relegation spot in 16th.
In the relegation zone are Buxton, Bradford Park Avenue and Witton Albion - who look destined to be this season's strugglers.
Henry Jacobs has returned to his old self as he is this month’s top scorer with 12 goals in 12 games in all competitions despite Rob Harker pushing him for a starting spot last season. Craig Herd is also creating the most goals out of anybody in the team again too. In terms of average rating over the first games of the season it has been former Tranmere Rovers winger Dylan Mottley-Henry who has been playing on the left wing with Herd on the right.
Throughout the first few months of the season there were a few departures with two players leaving on loan in July. Both players are our own academy graduates Giorgi Batiashvili leaving for a season-long loan to 9th-tier East Hull where he has played incredibly well so far, contributing 8 goals in 9 games from the right-wing.
Dmitry Nesterovich has also left on a season-long loan deal to 8th-tier Haughmond FC where he has been playing regularly.
The most significant departure in August was the free transfer that led Loick Ayina to Dunkerque despite only joining us from Huddersfield in July. It was a gutting loss to the team as he shone brightly in preseason and the opening games of the season before his move to France.
Dutch central midfielder Bouwe Bosma will also be departing us for his home country in January as he has agreed a pre-contract arrangement with De Treffers.
At last, Scott gets his non-league memory going
Some huge ones up on Tyne!
Some good additions, two of which have already left
Doing well so far though!
I can almost taste the Vanarama.