Will Anyone Win The National League Title?
With the statement today from the National League declaring it is to suspend the competition indefinitely due to the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic it begs the question whether the season will actually be completed.
Rather than debating the various ways the season could be concluded I have taken the hypothetical view that it WILL finish at some point, allowing us to take a closer look at the National League promotion race, the title contenders and possible outcomes.
It is still mathematically possible for anyone in the top half of the table to win the title but in reality there are probably only 3 or 4 real contenders. In this case I will be looking at Barrow, Harrogate, Notts County, Yeovil and Boreham Wood.
As it stands Barrow continue to hold top spot, which they have done for half of the season, however with the Bluebirds experiencing a slight drop in form in recent weeks Harrogate and Notts County find themselves in good form and closing the gap.
Vanarama National League Table 14 March 2020
We'll start at the top with Barrow and work our way down to Boreham Wood.
When Barrow faced Aldershot away in their 10th league game of the season they found themselves 21st in the league with just 7 points from 9 games and without a win in 4 games.
A 2-1 win over Aldershot saw them go on a run that has seen them lose just 3 games out of 28 played suggesting they are firm favourites for the title.
However, two defeats and a draw in the last six games has seen Barrow drop to 9th in the last 6 form table. Add to that the suspension of top marksman Scott Quigley who is out for the next 3 games following a straight red in the defeat at home to Notts County there is evidence to suggest a wobble could be on the cards.
The table below shows the teams Barrow have left to play both home and away and that clubs win, lose and draw ratio's for the last 10 games as well as that of Barrows.
The teams are not in match date order but ranked from top to bottom based on games unbeaten, i.e. won and drawn, which should indicate the kind of form that team is currently in and therefore the difficulty of that tie for Barrow.
As you can see Harrogate should provide Barrow with the sternest test whereas of all the teams left to play Yeovil's form is probably the least threatening.
Stockport, Woking and Wrexham at home are games Barrow would hope to be winning and to some extent Chesterfield. Harrogate, Barnet and Halifax should be a little more challenging.
The total number of wins, draws and losses for Barrow's remaining opponents combined works out as W 41% | D 27% | L 32%.
Moving onto Harrogate who have been in a rich run of form over the last couple of months losing just 2 of the last 13 games. Town will be looking to build on their great recent form having recently strengthen their front line with the signing of frontman Aaron Martin from Guiseley who has netted 16 goals for the National League North outfit this season
Harrogate's form for the last 10 games is currently second to none having won 7, drawn 2 and lost just 1 of those games.
Notts County, Barrow and Barnet offer the biggest threat in their remaining games.
Harrogate's opponents combined ratio's are more evenly spread as W 37% | D 31% | L 32%
Notts County will be confident of launching a final assault on the league after 4 straight wins on the bounce including a 2-0 win away at Barrow and including the FA Trophy win over Aveley has scored 16 goals and conceded just 2 in the last 5 games.
Harrogate offer the biggest threat to Notts of their remaining games however that game is at Meadow Lane where Notts have only lost two games in all competitons so far this season.
Of the other games Barnet, Ebbsfleet and Stockport could cause problems.
Notts face 4th place Yeovil at home in the last game of the season and on current form would be hoping for a home win.
Notts County's opponents combined ratio's are W 38% | D 26% | L 36%.
After an indifferent start Yeovil have spent most of the season so far in the play off places including a couple of weeks in first place and a good spell in 2nd. However recent form has seen them drop back down to 6th place before two wins moved them back up to 4th.
Yeovil have a tricky run in with some difficult games against Notts County, Barrow, Barnet and Ebbsfleet who currently find themselves on a good run of form. However, all of those games are at home except for Notts.
Eastleigh and Maidenhead look like the easy games but they will be away from home.
Combined opponent ratio's W 39% | D 28% | L 33%.
Finally Boreham Wood who have become a bit of a surprise package in the National League this season have lost just 2 of their last 20 league games which has seen them comfortably secure a top 7 spot.