The Bostik League Premier play-off final will be between Dulwich Hamlet and Hendon on Bank Holiday Monday following wins for both in Thursday`s semi-finals.
It`s more of a rarity than the norm that the teams finishing second and third in the regular season end up competing in the play-off final, but the Bostik Premier bucked that trend.
It`s doubtful whether either of their opponents, Leiston and Folkestone Invicta respectively, would have been many pundits` tips for a top five spot before the season began, but both enjoyed terrific campaigns.
Dulwich, who were Billericay Town`s main rivals for the title itself, have had to endure the upheaval of moving to a temporary home at Tooting & Mitcham United after being locked out of their Champion Hill ground but, along with a magnificent support, they have kept going and finished just four points shy of the ambitious Essex outfit in the end.
And in front of a 1,285 crowd at the KNK Stadium, Gavin Rose`s side edged past Leiston, who only made it into the play-off places on goal difference from Leatherhead on the final day.
What turned out to be the only goal of a tie that was certainly well-contested came 19 minutes from time when a run by Nyren Clunis lead to a foul and Ashley Carew stepped up to send the resulting free-kick past the Suffolk side`s keeper Marcus Garnham to signal celebrations by the Dulwich fans packed in behind the goal.
— John Crossley (@JC_comms) May 3, 2018
Meanwhile, at Silver Jubilee Park, a crowd of 722 saw Hendon enjoyed a much more comfortable passage into the final against long-serving Neil Cugley`s Folkestone side.
The Greens simply blew the Kent visitors away in the opening 45 minutes to kill the tie off as a contest.
Hendon opned the scoring after just 6 minutes when Josh Walker was put through by a Niko Muir to lift the ball over keeper Tim Roberts.
Ten minutes later it was 2-0 as Ashley Nathaniel-George converted after another Muir assist.
Hendon then virtually made sure of their place in Monday`s season finale when they scored twice in 2 minutes shortly before the break.
Firstly, Zak Joseph took advantage of some sloppy defending by Folkestone to curl the ball past Roberts.
A less than a minute later, the dangerous Muir was put through on goal to score his 40th goal of a terrific personal season.
The second half was all about game management for Hendon and pride for Invicta.