Monday, 28 April 2014


The season proper for the non-league divisions from Step 1 down to Step 4 has ended and now the excitement of the play-offs are all scheduled. Large crowds will be expected at all the games and ultimately one club from each of the four will be celebrating promotion with others looking to re-group for next season.

Skrill Premier Division
The games in non-league's top division are two legged affairs. Runner's Up Cambridge United travel to fifth placed FC Halifax Town on Wednesday evening with fourth placed Gateshead going to third placed Grimbsy Town on Thursday evening. The return games take place on what could be called SKRILL SUPER SUNDAY when Cambridge United v FC Halifax Town kicks off at 1.30pm and Gateshead v Grimsby Town at 4.30pm. The play-offs are always a lottery but maybe current form could give an indication as to what teams will qualify for the big final.


Skrill South Division
The games are over two legs in the South and North Divisions too. Thursday night see's Dover Athletic (5th) welcome Sutton United (2nd) and Bromley (3rd) go to Ebbsfleet United (4th). The return games are played less than 48 hours later on Saturday at 3pm. Sutton United (1999/00), Dover Athletic (2001/02), Ebbsfleet United (2012/13...looking to bounce straight back up) have all been in the Conference Premier before with Bromley looking to play in the division for the first time in their history.

Skrill North Division 
Wednesday night see's Guiseley (5th) welcome North Ferriby United (2nd) and Altrincham (3rd) go to Hednesford Town (4th). The return games are again played on Saturday afternoon. For North Ferriby United it could be two promotions in as many seasons as they won the Northern Premier League in 2012/13. Guiseley have been knocking on the Conference Premier's door for the last three seasons. Since promotion in 2011 they have finished 5th, 2nd and 2nd missing out in the play-offs each season against AFC Telford United, Nuneaton Town and FC Halifax Town. Could it be fourth time lucky for them this season? Altrincham and Hednesford Town are both bidding for a return to non-league's top table. Altrincham were relegated in 2011 and missed out in the play-off semi-finals against Brackley Town last season. Town were last in the Conference in 2001 and like North Ferriby United are going for two successive promotions after promotion via the Northern Premier League Premier Division play-offs last campaign.

Evo-Stik League Premier Division 
A massive crowd is expected at Gigg Lane on Tuesday evening when FC United of Manchester entertain Ashton United. FCUM narrowly missed out on the title being pipped by Chorley by just one point. The two clubs played on Bank Holiday Monday in a league fixture which attracted 3,056 people which wasn't their top crowd. That came against title rival's Chorley when 4,152 saw a 2-2 draw on Tuesday 8th April. Landlord's Bury FC have only bettered this total three times in League Two fixtures against Chesterfield (4,337), Rochdale (6,295) and Portsmouth (4,759). FCUM  have been climbing the pyramid since their formation in 2005 and have reached the play-off final for the last three seasons losing to Colwyn Bay, Bradford Park Avenue and Hednesford Town.

The other semi-final see's AFC Fylde (3rd place) entertain Worksop Town (4th). Like FCUM Fylde have risen through the pyramid at a rate of knots In 2007/08 they were in the North West Counties League Division Two as "Kirkham and Wesham" and that season won the FA Vase. A name change in 2008 saw another promotion, then three season in Division One (North) followed by a fifth placed finish in 2012/13 where they lost out to Hednesford in the semi-final.

Evo-Stik League Division One (North)
Warrington Town (3rd) entertain Bamber Bridge (4th) and  Darlington 1883 (2nd) welcome Ramsbottom United (5th). 1883 'reformed' after Darlington left the Conference Premier in 2012 following well reported financial problems. They were Northern League Champions last season and are another side looking at successive promotions. This is another game that will attract a decent crowd. It is to be played Bishop Auckland's Heritage Park where Darlington currently ground-share.

Evo-Stik League Divsion One (South)
The fixtures are Coalville Town (2nd) v Mickleover Sports (5th) on Tuesday evening and Leek Town v Belper Town on Wednesday. Leek spent two seasons in the Conference from 1997 to 1999 and are looking to get their first promotion since relegation in 1999 and 2008.

Ryman Premier Division 
Wednesday night are when the the big games are being played as Lowestoft Town (4th) make the long journey to Bognor Regis Town (3rd) and Kingstonian (2nd) host AFC Hornchurch (5th). Of the four teams only The Trawlerboys have never played at Step Two of the non-league ladder.

Ryman Division One (North) 
Witham Town (2nd) narrowly missed out on the title to VCD Athletic. A win at Cheshunt on Saturday would of won it for them but they only drew 1-1. They finished on 98 points from 46 games which would of been enough for the title in four of the last six Ryman Division One (North) seasons. They face Needham Market (5th) with Harlow Town (4th) travelling to Heybridge Swifts (3rd). The games take place on Tuesday evening.

Ryman Division One (South)
Tuesday night football again as Folkestone Invicta (2nd) welcome Hastings United (5th) and Leatherhead (3rd) welcome Guernsey (4th). Could The Green Lions formed in 2011 make it a hat-trick of promotions?

Calor League Premier Division 
Tuesday night see's Chesham United (2nd) welcome Stourbridge (5th) and then Wednesday night see's Cambridge City (3rd) welcome St Albans City (4th). The Cold End can see both of these games topping 1,000 attendances.

Calor League Division One Central
The Central Division was one of the closest in the pyramid. Just four points separated the top four teams. Both games take place on Tuesday night where Kettering Town (3rd) host Daventry Town (4th) and Rugby Town (2nd) welcome Slough Town. Kettering Town played Daventry on Monday 21st April in a league fixture which attracted 1,228. The Poppies won this one 2-0 and I can see the crowd topping 1,500 tomorrow night.

Calor League Division One South and West
Merthyr Town (2nd) played Swindon Supermarine (5th) and Tiverton Town (3rd) play Paulton Rovers (4th). Both games are to be played tomorrow night.

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