Virgo’s Verdict: A Promotion Final Impossible To Call!

By Sam Elliott

BT Sport commentator Adam Virgo is counting down the hours until Harrogate meet Notts County at Wembley. Here’s his take on Sunday’s massive match.

I remember saying at the time of the expansion and revamp of the end of season play-offs that I can certainly see merit in the decision.

Not only by allowing six teams to compete does it maintain interest for so many other sides who have it all to play for right until the end.

But what it also does is reward those who finish higher in the table, just like we are seeing today.

Harrogate ended the season in second spot while Notts took third place. As much as it’s great to see a team who slipped into the promotion places very late come through and take the glory, the new format gives that little bit of a leg up to the teams who have been there the whole way.

It’s not only the right Promotion Final in my eyes, but also a fair one too.

It could have been very different and gone the opposite way with both semi-final opponents of course having the benefit of a competitive game the week before. That was a real danger.

But their quality shone through - both deserve to be at Wembley this afternoon and I am sure they will put on a show.

These sides have had really good seasons and for different reasons there will be big celebrations for one come full-time.

Harrogate of course are looking to make it to the EFL for the first time, with County trying to get back up at the first time of asking having spent 99 per cent of their history there.

For the first time in a while we don’t have a clear favourite.

In games like this, when the two teams are on a similar path and there is no stand-out winner, it comes down to nerves and it comes down to fitness.

Harrogate and Simon Weaver really impressed me against Boreham Wood. In fact, they have impressed me ever since they joined the National League two years ago.

They have a small squad, but have one with a great identity. The way they played last weekend with no football for four months shows what they are all about.

It’s testament too to the National League, whose sides can pass the ball as well as both teams did a week ago after not kicking a competitive ball since March.

I can’t speak highly enough of Notts County’s Neal Ardley, either.

I’m lucky enough to have been working at this level of the game with BT Sport for a number of years now, and you get to see exactly what managers have to go through on a daily basis.

It’s a tough, tough old business - but what a job he has done.

The club were in a mess this time last year. From top to bottom there were problems everywhere you looked.

They started slowly - everyone expected that - but Neal has not only got them into the Promotion Final, but he has done it with flying colours.

I think this has the making of a fantastic final. It’s so hard to call, but sometimes those are the games you just can’t take your eyes off.

Where next?

Weymouth On The Up Again As Dartford Pay The Penalty In Final Weymouth booked their place in the Vanarama National League for next season with a shootout win against Dartford.