National League play-offs: Find out about the six contenders
The National League promotion play-offs begin in earnest this week with six teams left standing to battle it out into the post-season.
Why six teams we hear you ask? Well, this year’s competition is a little different.
Instead of the usual four available spots, the National League have extended the end of season spectacular to include the sixth and seven place sides.
That means Tranmere Rovers and Sutton United, who finished second and third respectively, are guaranteed a home berth in the new single-leg semi-finals.
Their opponents will be determined by the single-leg quarter-finals taking place this week.
As the official betting partner of the National League play-offs, we’ve profiled each team ahead of the final on Saturday 12th May.
Tranmere Rovers (6/5 for promotion)
The Whites missed out to Forest Green Rovers in last year’s promotion final but are the favourites to exact their revenge in this season’s competition.
They’ve lost two on the bounce going into their home semi-final on Saturday. But that can be put down to taking their eye off the ball after conceding the title to Macclesfield Town.
Andy Cook (24 goals) and James Norwood (20 goals) provide the firepower up top.
And with the league’s best home record, they’ll start as favourites against Ebbsfleet or Aldershot – the latter of whom they beat in a two-legged affair at the same stage last season.
Sutton United (3/1 for promotion)
Sutton returned to form with two wins from two against promotion rivals Ebbsfleet and Aldershot Town to end the regular season.
That should give the U’s tremendous encouragement up against either Boreham Wood or Fylde on Sunday.
They’ve beaten the Wood 4-0 already this season and also took three points against Fylde at Gander Green Lane back in October.
Will that give the U’s the psychological edge? Even if that doesn’t, then their 4G pitch could.
Expect Paul Doswell’s men to keep it tight, too – 15 of their 23 victories in the National League have come via a one-goal margin.
Ex-Arsenal man Craig Eastmond is the one to watch in the midfield.
Boreham Wood (7/1 for promotion)
When Luke Garrard was appointed Boreham Wood boss in 2015, he became the youngest manager in England’s top five divisions.
He and his players have matured a lot since then.
With the attacking triumvirate of Morgan Ferrier (back from Dagenham & Redbridge), Bruno Andrade and Angelo Balanta, the Wood are a match for anyone in the play-offs.
The trio have netted a combined total of 45 goals in the National League so far this season. Fail to contain them, and there could be trouble.
A solid defensive unit will give them a game chance against Sutton, should they beat Fylde at home for the second time this season.
AFC Fylde (15/2 for promotion)
The Coasters coasted to the National League North title last season with a mammoth 88 points and 109 goals.
They’ve picked up where they left off this season and now stand on the verge of promotion to the Football league for the first time in their history.
Striker Danny Rowe has been pivotal to their success. The National League Player of the Season has netted 24 times this campaign. That accounts for almost 30% of Fylde’s total goals this season.
Dave Challinor’s side have goals all over the pitch, too. They showed that when hitting Aldershot for seven and sticking five past Tranmere earlier in the season.
Fylde are the team to be feared and will relish a potential semi-final clash with Sutton, should they advance past Boreham Wood at Meadow Park.
Aldershot Town (8/1 for promotion)
The Shots finished the season in fifth spot and will need to improve on recent form if they’re to make it back up to League Two.
Gary Waddock’s men have only won four times since early February in a run that also includes a 7-1 defeat to Fylde.
Better news comes in the shape of their home form. The Hampshire club have won four of their last six matches at the Recreation Ground.
That could be enough to see them through the quarter-final with Ebbsfleet United. Victory over the Fleet would set up a tricky away tie at old foes Tranmere.
Ebbsfleet United (14/1 for promotion)
Ebbsfleet may be available at the longest odds, but it should also be noted that they’re the form team.
The Kent-side have lost just once in their last 14 matches and have won four of their last six in the National League.
Their one defeat in that time came against Sutton, who they could face in the final. Will they get that far, though?
The Fleet have yet to beat Aldershot or potential semi-final opponents Tranmere in four matches this season.
That doesn’t bode well for Daryl McMahon and co, who will be relying on the impressive form of Danny Kedwell, Corey Whitely and midfielder Jack Powell to see them through.
Goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore is an ever-present between the sticks and will need to be on top form once again if the Stonebridge Road side are to make waves in the play-offs.
Click here for the latest National League odds.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication