Updated: Monday, 19th August 2019 @ 10:17am

Top Hatters head National League North promotion race

Top Hatters head National League North promotion race

| By James Sproston

Stockport County climbed to the summit of the National League North with an emphatic win away at Boston United.

Jim Gannon’s side leapfrogged long-term leaders Chorley, who drew at the weekend and had played a game extra than County.

Gannon, a club legend in his third stint as manager, returned to the dugout after serving a three touchline ban to see second-half goals from Darren Stephenson, Elliot Osborne and Frank Mulhern dispatch Boston United 3-1.

With only one automatic promotion place up for grabs, there are six playoff places for northern teams to compete for.

Chorley and Spennymoor Town sit in second and third, and the latter could go within three points of the leaders if they win their game in hand, though a draw against Southport yesterday evening did not help their chances.

The more intriguing proposition is how the remaining playoff places will be made up.

Just one point separates fourth and seventh following Altrincham’s midweek draw against midtable Blyth Spartans.

The resurgent Robins had been on a good run of form, but just two wins from their last five has somewhat stalled their aim to secure a playoff place.

The three teams ahead of the Moss Lane side are Brackley Town, Bradford (Park Avenue) and AFC Telford United, all on 54 points.

Bradford and Telford both furthered their promotion ambitions with tidy midweek wins, against Leamington and Darlington respectively, whilst the Avenue and Brackley each still have a game in hand.

The closest chasers are Kidderminster Harriers and Chester, who are three and five points off the pace respectively.

Harriers are in a good run of form, having beaten strugglers Ashton United at the weekend, but Chester’s hopes were dealt a significant blow after being thumped 4-0 away at promotion rivals Altrincham.

The rest of the pack are bunched up, with just two points between the Boston United in 10th and Alfreton Town in 15th, and with nine games still to play there’s still every chance of a late promotion charge from one of the midtable outsiders.