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Final Day Drama Sees Woking Relegated

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There may not have been quite so much last-day drama as in some previous seasons, but Saturday`s final day of the regular Vanarama National League still possessed plenty of excitement.

None more so than at the game BT Sport chose to screen live between Woking, who were looking to stay up, and Dover Athletic, who were looking to sneak into the play-offs.

To various degrees, both required favours from elsewhere whatever their results, but in the end it was the Whites` fans, players and officials who were frantically awaiting the final whistle to go at the Racecourse Ground where Wrexham hosted AFC Fylde to see if the Dragons could snatch a last-gasp winner.

They couldn`t as the game finished 0-0 which mean that, despite Chris Kinnear`s side grabbing their own late, late winner to send the Cards down, it was the Coasters who grabbed the final play-off spot and leave Dover frustratingly missing out on goal difference.

At Kingfield, Woking fell a goal behind in the 27th minute to a Giancarlo Gallifuoco goal, only to respond within 11 minutes when Charlie Carter`s effort appeared to have been helped in by visiting `keeper Mitch Walker.

The second half was largely dominated by the home side without really testing Walker and as time wore on, Woking threw more and more players forward looking for a winner as news filtered through that already-relegated Chester FC were beating the team the Cards were trying to catch, Barrow AFC.

But 2 minutes into stoppage time, Dover caught Woking short at the back and the ball fell for sub Keanu Marsh-Brown to fire into the corner of the net and win the game for the visitors.

The final whistle went and it was all eyes on the game at the Racecourse Ground.

And it was bad news for both sets of players on the pitch at Kingfield as while Woking were still sucking in the fact they had lost and so had Barrow, Fylde held out to nick the final play-off spot.

At the Furness Building Society Stadium, Jordan Archer had given Chester a 19th minute lead they held until 9 minutes into the second half when Jordan White pulled Barrow level.

But, despite Tom Crawford firing Chester in front again 13 minutes from time, Woking`s defeat saw the Cumbrians safe for another season and see the end of the Cards` nine-year stint back in the top flight of non-League football.

The other issues to settle on the final day were the positioning of the remainder of the top seven.

Sutton United snatched third spot and the second automatic semi-final spot alongside Tranmere Rovers after beating Aldershot Town 2-1 at Gander Green Lane.

It was goalless at the break, but just 3 minutes into the second period, Tommy Wright broke the deadlock to give the U`s the lead.

Ten minutes later though, The Shots were back on level terms when Scott Rendell converted from the penalty spot after Shamir Fenelon was fouled in the act of shooting.

However, Sutton re-took the lead after 77 minutes when Tom Bolarinwa’s low angled drive was spilled by Shots` keeper Lewis Ward and sub Ross Lafayette reacted first to stab the ball in, although it also got a deflection off Josh McQuoid.

With AFC Fylde drawing at Wrexham and Aldershot losing, Ebbsfleet United had the chance to finish fourth or fifth, depending on Boreham Wood`s result at Meadow Park against already-relegated Guiseley AFC.

It was 0-0 at Plainmoor until the 69th minute when Fleet broke the deadlock when sub Jack Connors` cross floated over Torquay `keeper Vincent Dorel and into the back of the net.

But the Gulls, already down of course, equalised just 2 minutes later when Brett Williams was brought down in the box by Kenny Clark and Rhys Healey beat Nathan Ashmore from the resulting penalty.

Boreham Wood had a great start in their game when Bruno Andrade scored his 20th goal of the season after just 3 minutes.

And when Morgan Ferrier made it 2-0 from close range in the 16th minute, it looked as though it was going to be a long afternoon for Guiseley.

But 5 minutes later, Dayle Southwell was on hand to bundle the ball home after John Rooney`s effort had amazingly struck both posts.

However, on 69 minutes, Kane Smith curled in a lovely third to confirm Wood`s win, fourth place and a home play-off quarter-final spot against Fylde – Aldershot hosting Ebbsfleet.

As for the remaining games, it was all about pride and final placings.

Bromley will now prepare for the Buildbase FA Trophy Final at Wembley on the back of a 5-2 thrashing at York Street by a Maidenhead United who have enjoyed a terrific first season at the top level of non-League football.

Alan Devonshire has done a marvellous job to guide his team to a twelfth-placed finish and back-to-back wins to finish on against Leyton Orient and Bromley, who still had a slim chance of making the top seven at kick-off.

But goals from Sam Barratt after 3 minutes and Christian Smith 2 minutes later put the Ravens immediately on the back foot.

George Porter pulled them back into the game after 20 minutes, but Nana Owusu 10 minutes later and Barratt again just after the break stretched the Magpies` lead to 4-1.

Sean Marks scored the fifth just past the hour-mark, with Omar Bugiel scoring a fine second for Bromley 7 minutes later.

Champions Macclesfield Town finished on a winning note, although they left it late before seeing off mid-table Dagenham & Redbridge at the Moss Rose.

The championship trophy was presented to the victorious Silkmen and the mood in the ground was even better, thanks to a brace from sub Scott Wilson in the 79th and 82nd minutes sealed the win.

Another manager who deserves great credit is Hartlepool United`s interim boss Matthew Bates, who steered his side to a run of two defeats in the last eleven games and safety.

And their second win in the last three outings came at Prenton Park against runners-up Tranmere Rovers, taking the lead in first half injury-time through a Liam Donnelly penalty.

Sub Rhys Oates eventually doubled Pools` lead after 74 minutes, with Rovers replying 2 minutes later with Jeff Hughes` excellent free-kick.

Leyton Orient also finished on a positive note, winning 3-1 at the International Stadium against a Gateshead side who, in contrast, have finished with four straight defeats.

Macauley Bonne headed in his 22nd goal of the season to give the O`s a 17th minute lead – a lead they held at the break.

Eight minutes after the restart, Jobi McAnuff crashed a beauty home from the edge of the box to stretch the visitors` lead and Josh Koroma celebrated his England C call-up by making it 3-0 on the hour-mark.

The Tynesiders netted a last-gasp spot-kick reply from Danny Johnson after Rees Greenwood had been brought down in the area.

Eastleigh also ended on a winning note after a poor run of five games without a win.

The Spitfires eased to a 4-1 success at the Automated Technology Group Stadium against Solihull Moors.

It was a good end to the season for the impressive Sam Matthews, who scored a hat-trick for Andy Hessenthaler`s side in the 34th, 51st and 53rd minutes.

Adi Yussuf replied for Moors in the 75th minute after Paul McCullum had made it 4-0 in the 68th minute.

Maidstone United and FC Halifax Town finished their campaign with a 0-0 draw at the Gallagher Stadium, although it was far from being a dull affair.

The Shaymen were grateful to goalkeeper Sam Johnson for several decent saves and then had the chance to win it in the 86th minute when they were awarded a penalty after a foul on Matty Kosylo.

But Mike Fondop-Talom`s spot-kick was well saved by Lee Worgan.

So the 2017/18 regular season ends with Macclesfield Town returning to the Football League after six years, but Woking, Chester FC, Guiseley AFC and Torquay United will have to find a way back to the top of the non-League tree via the National League North and South next season.


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