NFU v AFC Fylde (POF)

Vanarama National League North
Promotion Play-off Final

NFU  v AFC Fylde
Saturday 14 May 2016
Kick-off 3.00 pm

Ferriby are now just one win away from playing in the top tier of non-league football. In some ways, Saturday’s National League North Play-off Final is perhaps the biggest game in the Club’s history. A victory on Saturday over AFC Fylde will see The Villagers play in the Vanarama National League next season.That would be an amazing achievement for a team with limited resources but a massive heart.

Ferriby will go in to the game in good spirits after their semi-final victory over Boston United last Saturday. Few had given Billy Heath’s team a chance of reaching the final after losing two-nil in the first-leg. However, the players showed their character and determination to gain a three-nil win.

The deficit was wiped out in the first 16 minutes and Danny Clarke’s goal shortly after half-time clinched victory. The result was well-deserved as The Villagers were by far the better team on the day.

The attendance of 2027 was the highest for a competitive home fixture although some of the pre-season games against Hull City have seen slightly higher attendances. Ferriby are hoping for another four-figure crowd against Fylde and are hoping that local football fans will get down to The Eon Visual Stadium to cheer on The Villagers.

It has been a steady rise for Ferriby over the last 20 years with some rather spectacular progress in the last four seasons in particular. The current period of success coincided with the arrival of managerial duo Billy Heath and Mark Carroll. They have managed over 750 games as a team and complement each other superbly.

Four years ago the team won the Evostik Premier Division title to be promoted to Conference North. Their first season saw them finish runners-up only to lose in the play-off semi-final. Last season saw a mid-table finish but the season will be remembered for the side winning the FA Trophy at Wembley. This season, whatever Saturday’s result, will be the club’s best at this level.

Heath comments,

“It is still a bit unreal when you realise what we have achieved as a club over the past four years. When mark and I arrived the club was in a relegation struggle. Now, four years on we are looking at possible promotion to the National League.

“The players have been tremendous over that time. Adam (Nicklin), Danny (Clarke) and Russ (Fry) have been with us throughout that time. Wayne (Brooksby) was here at the start, moved away, but is now back. There is a tremendous spirit at the club and Mark and I have a set of players who never really know when they are beaten.”

Ferriby will probably start the game as favourites on Saturday but that does not worry Heath too much,

“People will say we should win because we are the home side and also look at the fact that we won both the league games against Fylde. However, they count for nothing now. It is all down to a one-off game. Fylde have nothing to lose on Saturday and, like us, have a great deal to gain.

“It is going to be tough game, that’s for certain. Fylde are a side that is always capable of scoring goals and we are going to have put in another solid and professional performance, just as we did against Boston. We certainly will not be changing anything for this game. We will approach it as we approach all our games.”

“We are hoping for a large crowd to create a great atmosphere. It’s the sort of thing that lifts players.”

Hopefully, that atmosphere will not include the level of abuse that was directed at Ferriby striker Tom Denton by some Boston fans last Saturday. To his credit, Denton responded perfectly by winning a penalty and scoring the second goal, a performance that won him the man-of-the-match prize.

The Villagers are more than capable of winning on Saturday and crowning a fine season. Ferriby are well-organised and strong defensively. They have a midfield that is not only creative but which can also pressure and disrupt their opponents. Denton, King, Curtis Bateson and Clarke have all reached double figures in the goal-scoring stakes.

If necessary, extra-time will be played and if the sides are level at the end of that, the tie will be decided on penalties.

After the game, presentations will be made to the Players’ Player-of-the-season and to the Supporters’ Player-of-the-season.

Hopefully, Nathan Hotte will fit and give Heath 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

The game is not all ticket. Usual admission prices of £12 (Concessions £6, under-16s £3) apply. ALL MUST PAY as the game is treated as a cup match. Therefore, no passes are valid.

Car parking will be available at North Ferriby Primary school at the top of Church Road. There will be a £2 charge, all of which goes to the school. Please follow the stewards’ directions regarding parking and walking to the ground.

The turnstiles will be open at 12.30.

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