Many were predicting back-to-back promotions for a new arrival in the National League during the summer.
That was due to the huge summer spending spree by Salford City. But it’s another newly-promoted side who are currently top of the table: Harrogate Town.
Tactical success and on-song strikers
Even the most ardent Town fan would have identified survival as the main aim this season. But boss Simon Weaver has overseen a terrific start to the season.
One point clear of Wrexham at the top of the table, Town have been banging in the goals for fun. So far they’ve notched up 22, which is six more than next-best Leyton Orient.
While Town are new to National League life, they’re not without experienced pros who’ve played at this level and higher.
Defender Kelvin Langmead has played over 300 Football League games. Meanwhile, the tricky Jack Muldoon has proven himself as a top forward at this level with the likes of Lincoln City and AFC Fylde.
The latter has been converted to a striker by Weaver, who has paired Muldoon with the pacy Dominic Knowles in Town’s 4-4-2 system. And it’s worked a treat. The pair already have 10 league goals between them this season.
That’s all very promising, but Town aren’t without a few issues.
Defensive lapses and rookie Weaver
They’ve conceded four goals in their last two games, including a couple of avoidable ones in Saturday’s narrow win over lowly Havant & Waterlooville.
Similar defensive lapses would likely prove more costly in Harrogate’s upcoming games. The fixture list has been kind to the North Yorkshire club thus far. But two of their next three games are against fellow top-three sides Wrexham and Orient.
This is also new territory as a boss for Weaver. The gaffer has turned Town from sixth-tier strugglers to a side sat at the summit of Non-League. But he’s still something of a novice at this level.
And with the likes of Orient, Hartlepool United and Salford City really finding their stride in recent weeks, Harrogate will need to be at their best to maintain top spot.
Next up for Harrogate is a long trip to Kent, to face Maidstone United, who have just appointed Harry Wheeler as manager.
In the longer term, Harrogate are joint-third in the betting to win the National League, at odds of 8/1.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing