How the National League promotion race is shaping up as Chesterfield, Hartlepool United, Notts County and Stockport County all aim for Football League return

The National League promotion race is hotting up with seven weeks to go before the regular season comes to an end on May 29.

Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 10:00 am

Sutton United currently lead the way and there is fierce competition to secure a place in the play-offs with several teams in contention.

Chesterfield are joined in the top seven by recent former Football League clubs Hartlepool United Torquay United, Stockport County and Notts County who are all desperate to end their non-league stay.

Let’s take a look at the current top 10 to see how they are shaping up…

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Chesterfield are sixth in the National League with 13 games to go.
Chesterfield are sixth in the National League with 13 games to go.

Sutton United

Current position: 1st

Points: 63

Games to play: 11

Key upcoming fixtures: Torquay United (H), Eastleigh (A), Notts County (A), Hartlepool United (H)

Liam’s verdict: Matt Gray’s side are going to be tough to catch. Their lead at the top is a slender one but they have got three games in hand on second-placed Hartlepool United. Sutton have only lost four all season so it would be a surprise to see them collapse. If they do slip-up, their last home game of the season against Hartlepool could be very interesting. I think they will get over the line and go up as champions.

Hartlepool United

Current position: 2nd

Points: 61

Games to play: 8

Key upcoming fixtures: Notts County (H), Chesterfield (H), Bromley (A), Sutton United (A)

Liam’s verdict: Dave Challinor’s men have got the least amount of games to play with just eight left. They don’t have a match on the last day of the season because they were due to play Dover Athletic so it could be nervy waiting for the final results to come in. Pools have no more midweek games to play so they will be fresh for their remaining fixtures. They have an incredible home record with 11 wins from the last 12. I can’t see the Monkey Hangers dropping below third.

Torquay United

Current position: 3rd

Points: 57

Games to play: 11

Key upcoming fixtures: Sutton United (A), Notts County (H), Eastleigh (H), Chesterfield (A), Bromley (H), Stockport County (A)

Liam’s verdict: The Gulls topped the table until the middle of March but have suffered a dip in form since then. However, they did get a last-minute winner against Wrexham on Monday which could help them turn a corner. Gary Johnson’s team have played three fewer games than Hartlepool so they could still get second spot. But Chesterfield and Notts County, who have got games in hand on the seasiders, as well as fourth-placed Stockport County, will fancy their chances of catching Torquay and I think they could be hunted down.

Stockport County

Current position: 4th

Points: 52

Games to play:11

Key upcoming fixtures: Wrexham (A), FC Halifax Town (A), Torquay United (A)

Liam’s verdict: The Hatters are one of the teams who are right on the tails of Torquay and are one of the form sides in the division. They have beaten Chesterfield three times this season so I would not want to face them in the play-offs.

Notts County

Current position: 5th

Points: 52

Games to play: 13

Key upcoming fixtures: Hartlepool United (A), Eastleigh (H), Bromley (H), Torquay United (A), Eastleigh (A), Sutton United (H), Wrexham (A), Bromley (A)

Liam’s verdict: The Magpies made the surprise decision to sack manager Neal Ardley and replace him with former Ostersunds FK boss Ian Burchnall. I would expect County to make the top seven but I’m not sure they will have enough to finish in the top three.


Current position: 6th

Points: 48

Games to play: 13

Key upcoming fixtures: Bromley (H), FC Halifax Town (H), Wrexham (A), Bromley (A), Hartlepool United (A), Torquay United (H), FC Halifax Town (A)

Liam’s verdict: Town have an intriguing run of fixtures which includes three home matches on the bounce followed by three away on the spin, and then another triple home set later on. They have got some tough games against teams in and around them but I think they will comfortably make the play-offs and could even pinch third.

FC Halifax Town

Current position: 7th

Points: 47

Games to play: 12

Key upcoming fixtures: Wrexham (H), Chesterfield (A), Bromley (H), Stockport County (H), Chesterfield (H)

Liam’s verdict: The Shaymen reached the play-offs last season and they are up there challenging again. They have got a game in hand on Wrexham in eighth and play Chesterfield twice, including on the last day of the season, so Pete Wild’s men are right in the mix.


Current position: 8th

Points: 47

Games to play:11

Key upcoming fixtures: Stockport County (H), FC Halifax Town (A), Chesterfield (H), Notts County (H)

Liam’s verdict: The Red Dragons dropped out of the play-offs on Monday and they will be without top scorer, Kwane Thomas, who has bagged 10 goals this season, for the rest of the campaign due to a ruptured achilles. Dean Keates’ men could be the ones to miss out if they can’t replace Thomas’ goals.


Current position: 9th

Points: 46

Games to play: 11

Key upcoming fixtures: Notts County (A), Sutton United (H), Notts County (H), Torquay United (A)

Liam’s verdict: Ben Strevens’ side have gone off the boil but did pick up a crucial win at Maidenhead United on Monday, with striker Ben House, back from injury, scoring the winner. If he can get amongst the goals again then they might have a chance. The two games against Notts County could make or break their season.


Current position: 10th

Points: 43

Games to play: 11

Key upcoming fixtures: Chesterfield (A), FC Halifax Town (A), Chesterfield (H), Hartlepool United (H), Torquay United (A), Notts County (A) Notts County (H)

Liam’s verdict: Like Notts County, Bromley made a shock decision to part with their long-serving boss Neil Smith. Former Arsenal goalkeeping coach, Andy Woodman, has replaced him. The Lilywhites will be hoping to get that new manager ‘bounce’. They are outsiders but not out of it totally just yet.