In what has already been an action-packed festive period for the Isthmian League, we enter this latest batch of fixtures with Folkestone Invicta sitting pretty at the top of the table on 44 points. The old cliché goes that attackers win you games, defences win you titles – The seasiders are by no means bucking that trend, a large reason as to why they reside in top spot is their fantastic defensive record – conceding just 21 goals so far. That kind of defensive resilience is contributing to the goal difference (+20) that is setting them apart from title rivals Worthing, who sit in second with an identical record of 13 victories, five draws and three defeats.
Folkestone take on Merstham on their travels as their first game of the new year, where they will go in as overwhelming favourites – Merstham have picked up just one win in their last 6. Worthing visit Bognor Regis Town on New Year’s Day, a far sterner test as Bognor go into the tie off the back of a 7-2 home victory over Cray Wanderers.
Breathing down the necks of the top two is Horsham who are very much involved in this title race, just 4 points off the pace as we end the year. They welcome 16th placed Lewes to The Camping World Community Stadium, who have secured just two wins in their last 6. Horsham will know any kind of slip up could prove costly as they try and stay within touching distance of their title rivals.
Down the other end of the table, just seven points separate the bottom 5 placed sides. 18th placed Merstham have the small matter of welcoming league leaders Folkestone, whilst Cheshunt make the trip to King George’s Field today in what is set to be an interesting battle against fellow survival rivals Corinthian-Casuals. Bottom placed Corinthian-Casuals have picked up just one victory all season, yet only 6 points separate them from today’s visitors Cheshunt. Fans should not expect much in terms of goals galore, the two sides make up 2 of the three lowest scorers in the division, scoring less goals combined than any of the top 3 sides.
Second bottom Wingate & Finchley travel to Haringey Borough on the 1st as they bid to try and rise out of the relegation zone. Just one point stands between them and Brightlingsea Regent, but Wingate & Finchley will know if they are to make a serious claim in this relegation dogfight they will have to tighten up at the back, conceding 40 goals thus far gives them the second worst defensive record in the division. They currently sit bottom of the form guide, gaining just two points from their last 6 fixtures.
The other side in that bottom five, Brightlingsea Regent meet Hornchurch today aiming to improve their dire away record of just one win, one draw and seven defeats. All sides in and around the relegation area know that just one win could completely turn the tables, and Regent will be no different. Should they secure their second away win of their campaign – they could see themselves rise from 20th to 18th depending on other results going their way.
During the course of games both today and Wednesday, It’s sure to be a hectic period at both ends of the table.
Josh O’Brien is one of our sports journalists. He currently studies a multimedia sports journalism degree at the UCFB Wembley campus. His previous roles include writing for You are my Arsenal blog, The Sun’s Dream Team app and betting company Kwiff.