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Evo-Stik Southern Play-Off Finals Preview

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Agony and Ecstasy will be shown in equal measure as all three Evo-Stik Southern play-off final matches take place this Monday writes Tom Feaheny.

Premier Division 

Leamington boss Paul Holleran says the home support they have could be the difference in their play-off final against Hitchin Town.
The Brakes who finished runners-up to champions Chippenham Town, defeated Slough Town on Wednesday evening, setting up this match.
The Brakes boss Paul Holleran says the fans and past experiences could be vital.
“We know this will be a tight game. We are just looking for anything that can give you the advantage our support could do just that.
“We’ve got to try and learn from last year, we got close but failed. There is a good side standing in our way. I expect a great occasion.”
Leamington are boosted with the news Ahmed Obeng did not suffer a concussion after leaving the pitch via a stretcher.

Hitchin Town who have come so close before to being in the second tier travel to Leamington who not too long ago were in the National League North.

Penalty shoot-out drama earnt Hitchin their place in the final. They beat Merthyr Town with keeper Michael Johnson being the hero, in a 4-1 victory.

Town boss Mark Burke believes their journey is not yet done.
“The Leamington play-off final will see us conclude a very enjoyable season. It would be brilliant if we could finish off with a victory and promotion to the National League but it will be a very difficult task.”
“Leamington are a very experienced side with a very successful manager. Once again we will adopt our favoured position as underdogs. We will look to build on our last two visits to Leamington that both ended in victory.
“It would be great to see a large Hitchin following and I am sure our supporters will be there. Your support can really help us on Monday and all the team want to reward you for your great support through the season.”
While this match on paper sees Farnborough a team filled with ex Football League players as the favorites ahead of facing Barton Rovers, their manager Spencer Day is taking nothing for granted.
With the likes of Jamie Cureton scoring in the 4-0 semi-final win over Egham Town, many expect Farnborough to be gaining promotion but Day says it’s not that simple.
“The play-offs are a lottery, we finished 2nd but we know a lot of teams that have done that got close to winning the league and then don’t do so well in the play-offs.”
“Barton have done so well to get to the final and they will be up for this game. We just have to see what happens.”
Barton are aiming to reach step three for the first time in the club’s history. Whatever happens this season will be deemed a success.
Goals from ex Kempston Rovers striker Danny Watson and a late effort from Connor Calcutt proved to be the difference in their semi-final win against Marlow.
Barton boss Jimmy Gray believes they can prosper in their tag as underdogs.

“We go again on Monday knowing we a lot of people don’t think we will win. I’m sure as with our semi-final victory the lads will give everything and that is all I can ask off them.”

“It’s a final and we are looking forward to the occasion and in those games anything can happen.”

Martyn Rogers says doing the double over Salisbury during the regular season means nothing when it comes to the final.
Monday’s play-off final away at Salisbury is the biggest game Tiverton Town have had since he returned to Ladysmead.
The Yellows booked their place in Monday’s promotion final by overcoming rivals Taunton Town 3-1 on Wednesday evening in a memorable fixture at Ladysmead.
Rodgers said he is not looking back on previous results.
“I think that’s irrelevant – you’ve only got to look at the Taunton result to see that. It’s going to be on the day but we know that, if we play well, we’ll give them a hard time.
“Likewise, if they play well, we’ll have a hard time. So it’s going to be quite a good game to witness.
“Both games we had against them were tight so it’s whoever plays well on the day.”
Meanwhile Steve Claridge says his Salisbury side know that they must take their chances after having to rely on an extra-time win over Evesham in the semi-final.
“We have to finish and we have to make more of our chances and finish the job. I look at our last win and if we had done that they would have been long gone and it would have been no doubt that the game was over.”
Claridge may be boosted with both Elliot Wheeler who suffered a cut to his ankle and Justin Bennett both expected to be available, he feels that could be key.

“Elliot has had stitches not a broken leg. Hopefully we can strap a shin pad over it, job done. I didn’t risk Justin but he looks like he could be fit which would make a massive difference to us.”


About Author

I work as a freelance journalist for The Non-League Paper, Yorkshire Evening Post, Yorkshire Post, North-West Evening Mail and others, based in Yorkshire, I am always at a game on a Tuesday and Saturday when the season is on, I started following non-league at the age of 10 and have been hooked ever since.

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