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In depth analysis from dugouts ahead of Division One Play-Off Final

Tomorrow sees the 465th –and final game of an enthralling season in Toolstation NCEL Division One, with just one outstanding issue left undecided-who will take that precious, third promotion spot and be playing their football in the Premier Division next season? We’ll know that answer at tea time tomorrow evening, after Grimsby Borough and Eccleshill United, who finished the regular season in third and fourth places respectively, settle their differences at the Bradley Football Development Centre- and some of the key participants gave the Bootiful Game their pre-match thoughts, hopes and expectations, writes Colin Muncie.

Grimsby Borough joint manager Nathan Collins.

Grimsby Borough Joint manager Nathan Collins will be using their defeat at the final hurdle last season as a real motivator tomorrow. He told the Bootiful Game “We’re really looking forward to the game ,as are all the players. Due to the season being extended, we had five lads playing on Wednesday who had only got back off a lad’s holiday a few hours before kick-off so we were just really pleased to come through that game unscathed. We lost last year in the Final when some of the players froze; but I think this group are different and the lads that are still here from that game will have learned from it. I’m confident that we can get over the line this time; as we say to the players every game -if they work hard and back each other and then get on the ball and enjoy it -we can’t ask for any more than that.”

Nathan knows that his players will approach the task in the right way “We have a really young squad who are at the club for the right reasons” he explained “so there is no pressure on us whatsoever; we want to see our lads playing with a smile on their faces. I would also like to say a massive “thank- you” to our Chairman Dave Fenwick, who has been brilliant since he came to the club. He’s really just allowed us to concentrate on the football side of things.”

Grimsby Borough’s Daniel Barrett.

Joint Manager Daniel Barrett puts tomorrow’s task in straightforward context; “We’ve just got a job to do; one more game to get over the line. Only a few goals separated ourselves and Eccleshill over the season, and both times we’ve played them this year the matches have been entertaining and filled with goals.

“We both deserve to be in the final; I’m sure it will be a cracker.”

Borough striker Luke Mascall wants to repay the faith and support of the club and supporters “ It was a great win for us on Wednesday” he told us “We got off to a good start and carried it on throughout the game to get the win; but all that counts for nothing if we don’t turn up tomorrow. It’s going to be a tough game with both teams being around the top four for most of the season so we know what we have to do.

Grimsby Borough striker Luke Mascall and Daniel Barrett embrace after the full time whistle on Wednesday.

“We just have to go out there and do it for the club and fans that have paid their money to come and watch us all season -and the Managers deserve it for all they have put in -so us as lads we owe them one now.”

Jack Denham knows that his side will have to be at their very best to see of the challenge of the Eagles, and isn’t fazed by the recent form of both sides. “I’m really looking forward to the game. We played them at a time when we had a few players suspended and injured and they nicked it 3-2 last minute at our place. We’ve both had a bit of rocky form in the past few weeks dropping points at easier opposition -on paper- but that’s what happens when you’re up there in the League. We are looking to put last year’s Play-Offs right this year ,as I feel it’s our time now, and if we perform to how we can then I think we will be in the Premier League next season.

“If we don’t, Eccleshill will be promoted. Simple really!”

Wilderness Boys striker Daniel Trott isn’t downplaying the importance of the occasion “Well, it’s the biggest game of our season- winner takes all” he admitted “ A few of us have been here before ,so we know the feeling of not winning and I hope use that to get the job done. It’s been a long season and I think we deserve it; but we have to go tomorrow and earn it, and with the quality in the squad I think we will. We’re at home, in front of our fans so it doesn’t get much better.

“Everyone in the club deserves it so I hope we go and do them proud!”

Across the half-way line will be Eccleshill Manager Sean Regan. He’s well-prepared for a vital afternoon.”Everyone is looking forward to this massive occasion for all concerned. We picked up a couple of injuries, unfortunately and the situation is the same, however we have a great squad of players and the lads that come in will do a fantastic job. Grimsby have a very strong team and they will test us, and on paper it should be a very exciting encounter. Let’s hope it is!

Sean Regan Eccleshill United
Sean Regan, Eccleshill United’s manager.

“It has been a very long hard season and both teams have progressed really well, but there is only one place up for grabs. Game on, then!”

The Eccleshill players are certainly ready for what tomorrow might bring. Midfield talisman Charlie Flaherty told the Bootiful Game “Tomorrow is massive for both clubs. All the hard work put in this season has come down to this one last game. I’m 100% certain we will give our everything to get over the line. We have the right mind set and our ability isn’t in question. Grimsby will have the same attitude, I’m sure, which will make this game a very entertaining one. Both meetings this season have been very good contests with both teams taking points. Whatever the outcome, I’m sure both teams will be proud of what they have achieved this season and build strongly on it next season”.

“I’m looking forward to the game as I’m sure every other player is. May the best team win”.

Kingsway striker Luke Harrop is sweating on a knock which might yet keep him out of the Bradley Road showdown “I can’t wait for tomorrow!” Luke told us “its games like these which are what we all play for. Obviously we are confident going into it -but I’m sure Grimsby are too. I couldn’t call it to be honest, as even the game we played at their ground earlier this year was decided by a last- minute winner. I reckon it’s all about who handles the pressure and turns up on the day”.

“On a personal note I’m struggling at the minute with a little niggle that made me come off on Wednesday and I’m hoping I can be available for it” Luke admitted “but if not, I’ll be kicking every ball on the sideline; our squad is top drawer anyway as we saw from Tom Rose who came on for me and scored a worldie! It’s going to be a great advert for the League and Grimsby and ourselves have been in and around the promotion places all season, so we both deserve to be here.

It’s- technically- our second “Winner- takes- all” game of the season so let’s hope we take this chance -as none of us want to feel like we did after the Ammers game”.

Eagles fullback Carlton Pownall was delighted by his side’s showing in the Play Off semi-final at home to Shirebrook Town “I’m absolutely buzzing to be in the Final of the Play-Offs; we showed great character to bounce back! I’m feeling very confident going in to Saturday as we have the momentum and we showed that we can still produce quality in the dying minutes of a game”.

“We know what we need to do; we’ve been to their home and come away with the three points -so I’m confident we will do it again”.

So, that’s more than enough from the Bootiful Game. The scene is well and truly set. It should be a tremendous occasion in Grimsby tomorrow, and TBG’s own Craig Kendall will be there to update you as the goals fly in.

Good luck to both Grimsby Borough and Eccleshill United!.

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