Eliminators Are On The Menu With A BT Sport Double Bill

By Sam Elliott

It’s play-off time, and if you thought the final day of the Vanarama National League season was electrifying, let us introduce you to the Eliminators!

Last weekend saw some fingernails bitten up and down the country, so Saturday and Sunday should frankly come with a health warning.

It’s the time of the year that a single mistake or bit of bad luck can break hearts, with the pain lasting all summer long.

We love them and we hate them in equal measure - what has the next few days got in store for everyone?

Both games are live on BT Sport so how about a real grudge match to get you going?

Notts County host rivals Chesterfield with a place in the semi-finals as well as bragging rights on offer, kick-off 4pm.

Ian Burchnall didn’t exactly hit the ground running, but a magical May saw his team storm into the promotion places and it soon became apparent they weren’t going to be shifted.

He may not have been managing in English football for too long, but the former Östersund coach knows all about what’s ahead.

"We are going to have some stressful and tense moments in the next few games,” he said.

"We've got to be able to manage those as football is a game that you can't predict sometimes.

"You can't get flustered by that. We have to remain composed and keep trying to play our way.”

James Rowe didn’t take long at all to make the Spireites faithful fall in love with him - even from a distance.

In the relegation zone when he took over with December days away, he inspired their rise and a top seven place was well earned on the last day of the season.

Can they complete the ultimate turn-around? We’ll know within a few weeks.

“I am pleased for our staff and board, they have really backed me here and to get sixth from 22nd in six months is really pleasing,” he told the Derbyshire Times.

“Bring on anyone, I am not fussed who we play at this stage.

“I know that if we are right and we stick to the game plan we have got that talent to win games.

“We have just shown that in the last two games against teams who were pushing for the play-offs.”

On Sunday comes the second installment - one of the best home sides in the National League against a team with a sensational record on the road, with kick-off at 2.30pm.

Hartlepool United have won 13 of their last 15 matches at Victoria Park.

“You have to remain calm,” explained manager Dave Challinor to the Hartlepool Mail..

“The better teams over 40-odd games finish at the top of the league but it’s not always the better teams that win the play-offs - it's the team that copes best with the situation and has a bit of luck.

"You have to cope with it and that will dictate things and what’s happened over the season and whether you want to say we’ve had some high pressure games with some importance, we’ve made individual errors and whether that’s a contributing factor in that, who knows?”

Counterpart Andy Woodman is just happy to be in there.

His Bromley side can call upon a strong away record, winning five of their last seven on their travels while picking up impressive draws at Notts County and Torquay United.

In-form goalkeeper Mark Cousins has warned Pools his team are in it to win it now.

Speaking to the club’s YouTube channel after defeating Notts to win through last week, he said: “It’s been an incredible last three weeks. To get over the line is so satisfying.

“We were waiting for the Wrexham result to come in and confirm we were in the play-offs, they had two minutes left to play when our game ended.

“It was a little bit like Manchester United the year City won it!”

Where next?

Dedicated Duo Are May's Volunteer of the Month Winners! It’s usually at around this time of the year when the trophies are being dished out for on-the-field achievement.
LV Bet Blog: Weekend National League Eliminator Previews After eight months of twists, turns and plenty of toil along the way, it all comes down to this.

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