By Chip Kidger
The waiting is nearly over with a weekend of agony and ecstasy in store as the National League play-off finals get underway.
Will it be tears of joy or despair for the six teams still awaiting their fate for next season?
Our friends at Marathonbet have cast their eye over the play-off finals…
National League – Boreham Wood v Tranmere Rovers
On paper, this final looks to be the biggest mismatch of the weekend as the league’s smallest club go up against its sleeping giant. That’s not to denigrate The Wood who have demonstrated enormous grit and determination throughout this campaign in finishing fourth, negotiating a tricky tie against Sutton Utd and reaching Wembley. Could that underdog mentality play into their hands?
It’s certainly worked for Luke Garrard’s side so far this season in the two league games between the sides, with the Wood edging out Rovers 2-1 at Meadow Park back in March and drawing 2-2 on the Wirral in the first month of the season. They will look to capitalise on any jitters in the opening stages from their more illustrious rivals, and in Bruno Andrade will have a constant threat in front of goal.
Rovers will be looking to banish memories of last year’s Wembley loss to Forest Green Rovers. With that big stage experience in their locker, they should have just enough in the tank to seal a return to the Football League.
Back Tranmere Rovers to beat Boreham Wood 2-1 at 15/2 with Marathonbet.
National League North – Harrogate Town v Brackley Town
Simon Weaver’s side have a golden chance to put the disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion behind them as Harrogate welcome Brackley to Wetherby Road.
The North Yorkshire outfit scored a hatful of goals during the regular season but it was costly defeats towards the end of the campaign that wrecked their title chances.
With nothing to separate these two teams in both their meetings in the regular campaign, Brackley will fancy their chances of springing a surprise, but Harrogate will be confident they can stand firm and hold their nerve on home soil.
Back Harrogate Town to beat Brackley Town at 33/25 with Marathonbet.
National League South – Hampton & Richmond Borough v Braintree Town
This tie looks to be the most finely poised of all three big finals this weekend, with only three points separating the Beavers and Iron in the regular season. The latter will be looking to bounce back to the National League at the first attempt, but Hampton will be confident of reaching the fifth tier of English football for the very first time given they enjoy home advantage.
The last time these two sides met at Beveree the shares were spoiled in a 1-1 draw, and it could be equally close this Sunday. Recent form suggests this tie may just swing in the favour of Braintree, with the Essex side showing against Dartford that they have perfected the art of grinding out all-important wins at just the right time of the season.
Back Braintree Town to beat Hampton & Richmond at 103/50 with Marathonbet.
Odds correct as of 11 May 2018
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