After a 42 game season and 9 months of football the National League North has come to a close for the 2016/17 season. After Darlington lost their appeal to compete in the playoffs this year, up stepped 6th placed Chorley who filled the last remaining playoff place.
The teams competing in this years National League North playoffs will be: Kidderminster Harriers, Salford City, F.C. Halifax Town and Chorley.
The first leg fixtures will start on Wednesday 3rd May at 19:45. All live goal updates can be accessed by following my twitter account.
Chorley v Kidderminster Harriers
First Leg: Wednesday 3rd May 2017 – 19:45 K.O. @ Victory Park
Second Leg: Sunday 7th May 2017 – 15:00 K.O. @ Aggborough Stadium
Chorley are a team who will count themselves lucky to be in the pack for promotion this season as they take Darlington’s spot in the playoffs. Chorley were promoted to the National League North in 2014 following a dominant league win which saw them beat Droylsden 13-1 in the process.
The 2014/15 season was their first season back in the sixth tier since 1990 and they made it a good one with a 4th place finish, eventually just missing out to Guiseley 3-2 in the playoff final. Last year Chorley finished 8th, failing to secure a playoff spot.
Chorley have been led by ex York City player Jason Walker’s 14 league goals this season. As well as being helped by their tight knit defence who have only conceded 41 goals this season; joint best in the National League North.
Once a football league side over 10 years ago Kidderminster will be aiming to put their name back on the footballing map with promotion from step 2 of the non league system.
Recent years have seen a rebuilding process at the club. Armed with with the money from when non league sensation Joe Lolley was sold to Huddersfield Town for £250,000 in 2014, former Watford midfielder John Eustace has led the team to a 2nd place finish this campaign.
Key players to look out for are midfielder James McQuilkin, who was named 2016/17 supporters player of the year. And Daniel Nti, who was signed from York City in March, the pacey forward managing to find his feet in the National League North.
Salford City v F.C. Halifax Town
First Leg: Wednesday 3rd May 2017 – 19:45 K.O. @ Moor Lane
Second Leg: Sunday 7th May 2017 – 15:00 K.O. @ The Shay Stadium
Salford City have had somewhat of an increase in exposure over the past few seasons with ex Manchester United players Phil Neville, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs all having a share in the club.
The owners have ambitions of playing in the Championship by 2029 and in the process Salford are looking for their 3rd promotion in 3 seasons. They are no strangers to a playoff promotion, having been promoted last season through a 3-2 win over Workington.
Salford are lead at the back by towering defender Michael Nottingham, who was named Solihull Moors’ player of the season in the National League North last year. He has also been awarded supporters player of the season for Salford this campaign. So you can say that he’s a been great player at regional level.
F.C. Halifax Town
The phoenix club are another team who’s predecessors were once a football league side. Having reformed in 2008 Halifax Town have had 3 promotions and 1 relegation in 8 seasons. Also seeing the likes of now England international Jamie Vardy grace their home soil in ‘The Shaymen’ colours.
Halifax were relegated controversially last season on goal difference following an incident which went viral at Guiseley last season. Before winning the 2016 FA Trophy, which left them on a high note going into the 16/17 season.
Halifax finished this season in 3rd with a 2-0 win over fellow playoff rivals Chorley, which will only fill them with confidence going into the playoffs. Scott Garner is one to watch for ‘The Shaymen’ as he picked up four accolades at the players awards ceremony this season and is back training ahead of the playoffs.