Vanarama National League North
Play-off semi-final First Leg
Boston United v NFU
Wednesday 4 May 2016
Kick-off 7.45 pm
The season now comes down to what are essentially two, and hopefully, three cup ties.
Runners-up Ferriby travel to fifth-placed Boston United on Wednesday for the first-leg of the promotion play-off semi-final.
It goes without saying that it will be the first of two very tough games between the two sides. Games between the Pilgrims and The Villagers are always hard-fought affairs and with a play-off final spot at stake the intensity will be greater than ever.
Boston have had a stroke of fortune to reach this stage. Sixth placed Nuneaton actually gained more points on the field than Boston but a three point deduction meant that they finished sixth rather than fourth. The Pilgrims will be doing their utmost to make sure they capitalise on this.
Ferriby have won both of the league games this season; 4-3 at The Eon Visual Media Stadium and
2-1 in March at York Street. Neither of those results counts for anything now.
Ferriby go in to the game on the back of a home defeat to Alfreton on Saturday. As Ferriby still clinched runners-up spot there was not too much disappointment at the result. The game came after two extremely long coach trips to Gloucester City and Lowestoft Town within four days of each other. They were not ideal preparation for a crucial game.
Billy Heath made a number of changes to his starting line-up for the Alfreton game.
“It was important to give some players 90 minutes with the play-offs coming-up. The whole squad needs to have some game-time just in case we pick-up any injuries in the Boston games. The changes made us a bit disjointed on Saturday but, overall, it was a good performance against a side that has been unbeaten away from home since Christmas.”
Boston warmed-up for the semi-finals with a 5-0 away thrashing of Stalybridge. Boston knew they needed a win to ensure a play-off spot and they clearly did it in some style. However, like Ferriby’s result, that also counts for little as both sides prepare for Wednesday.
It will be an intimidating atmosphere at York Street with an anticipated attendance of around 2000. That is not likely to deter Ferriby and it could even work in their favour if they can frustrate United on the field.
Looking ahead to Wednesday, Billy Heath comments,
“I’m delighted for the players that they managed to secure the runners-up spot. It’s been a hard season for them, especially as we have such a small squad. To be runners-up twice in three seasons at this level is an outstanding achievement.
“We know it will be a highly charged game on Wednesday. York Street is always a difficult ground to get a result at. We do have a pretty good record there but that is all in the past and we now have to concentrate on putting together a good performance on Wednesday. That should set-up a great day on Sunday in the second-leg.
Heath should have a full squad to choose from on Saturday.
NFU squad: Adam Nicklin, Ben Middleton, Sam Topliss, Josh Wilde, Ash Palmer, Mark Gray, Danny Hone, Liam King, Russ Fry, Adam Bolder, Danny Clarke, Danny Emerton, Ryan Kendall, Curtis Bateson, Nathan Hotte, Tom Denton, Wayne Brooksby