After eight months of twists, turns and plenty of toil on the pitch, it all comes down to this. The Vanarama National League eliminations are on the horizon, and if you think last weekend was tense, then you better strap yourself in. The winners from Saturday and Sunday’s games start to get the ball rolling, while for the losers, it’s total devastation.
Welcome to the Vanarama National League play-offs – and if it wasn’t edgy enough, throw in the fact it all starts with a huge grudge match that gets bigger by the minute.
Then factor in the second instalment, which is one of the division’s strongest home sides hosting the team with one of the best away records, and it becomes clear you can’t afford to miss a kick.
The road to Ashton Gate starts on Saturday.
Here’s the lowdown on the two huge matches and LV BET’s hot takes ahead of the games.
Notts County vs Chesterfield – Sat 5 June 4:00 pm KO
Talk about starting as you mean to go on — the opening play-off match is a pure humdinger.
Rivals Notts County host an in-form Chesterfield, who only clinched their spot on the final day at FC Halifax Town.
Notts broke their eight-game win streak last weekend after enduring their first loss last weekend against Bromley, while their opponents this Saturday, the Spireites, were able to keep their cool.
The first time these sides met back in November, Chesterfield were in a bit of a mess. Ruben Rodrigues and Kyle Wootton scored in stoppage time to earn Notts country a dramatic 2-0 win back in November.
Now under the stewardship of James Rowe, things are very different.
In their most recent matchup against Notts Count in February, Gavin Gunning’s first-half free-kick secured victory for Chesterfield at Meadow Lane.
Both sides know where the net is, but will it be a goal feast at Meadow Lane? Seven or more goals is 25/1 (26.00).
Hartlepool United vs Bromley – Sun 6 June 2:30 pm KO
With nearly 300 miles between them, part two of the play-off programme certainly isn’t a local ding-dong like the opener. But while there’s no big rivalry, this one’s got pretty much everything you need.
Home kings Hartlepool take no prisoners at Victoria Park, earning 45 points on their own turf and winning 13 of the last 15 games at their stadium.
Surely only a side with an excellent away record could stand a chance? Step forward Bromley.
Under Andy Woodman, the Ravens have found flight. The team is third-best on their travels this season, and 11 wins on the road for a side who have only spent a few weeks in the top seven is pretty sensational. They even beat Pools 1-0 at the start of May thanks to a Jude Arthurs goal.
LV BET has Bromley at 47/20 (3.35) to leave North East England as semi-finalists.
Bromley are superb on the road, and a 2-0 away success is 16/1 (17.00) on Sunday.
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*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing.