Halifax, Aldershot or Southend? Who Takes Seventh Spot In The National League?

The final day of the National League season has arrived, and while the focus may well be on the enthralling relegation battle, the final place in the Play-Offs is still to be decided.

Halifax put fate back in their own hands on Thursday evening by taking a point on neutral ground against Oldham Athletic, in the process ending the Latics’ faint hopes of snatching seventh. That point was also bad news for Aldershot Town, who won on Wednesday evening at a Gateshead side secure in the top seven, but looking to seal a home tie in the Eliminators this coming week.

And then there is Southend United. A sold-out Roots Hall awaits as the Shrimpers look to make the impossible possible, which has become achievable thanks to their strong finish to the campaign. So, who joins Altrincham, Solihull Moors and Gateshead in the National League Eliminators next week? Let’s take a look at who requires what on the final day this lunchtime…

 

7th: Halifax Town (68 Points) (+5)

It has been a stellar year on the pitch for the Shaymen, hampered in recent weeks by The Shay being unavailable to play on. Even so, the West Yorkshire side have taken everything that has been thrown at them in their stride. That has meant playing three ‘home’ games in the space of six days at Accrington Stanley’s Wham Stadium, at the home of National League Champions Chesterfield. Those three encounters haven’t quite replicated the results fans have become accustomed to seeing, but it has been enough to leave fate in their hands on the final day.

Opponents: Eastleigh (A) (12th)

Win: The equation is quite simple for Chris Millington’s side- win and their job is done.

Draw: A point is only enough if Aldershot fail to win.

Loss: Seventh spot would still go to the Shaymen if Aldershot are defeated, and Southend aren’t victorious either.

 

8th: Aldershot Town (68 Points) (-9)

The Shots were tipped for relegation at the beginning of the campaign, so to be in the race on the final day is a testament to a wonderful season of defying the odds. Even so, Tommy Widdrington will be bitterly disappointed that his side’s worst run of the year has coincided with the run-in. Victory in Wednesday’s rearranged game at Gateshead was their first three-point haul in seven, after a run of five wins from six prior to that. To secure an away Play-Off fixture, a favour is required by Hampshire neighbours Eastleigh.

Opponents: Dagenham & Redbridge (A) (15th)

Win: The simplest way to secure seventh is by taking three points in East London, which will be enough if Halifax drop points. If the Shaymen are victorious though, then a mammoth fourteen-goal swing is required.

Draw: A point would only be good enough if Halifax lose at Eastleigh.

Loss: Defeat at Victoria Road would all but rule Aldershot out of the Play-Off race thanks to their extremely inferior goal difference, unless Halifax lost by fourteen more goals. In that very unrealistic scenario, Southend would also have to drop points for the Shots to reclaim seventh spot.

 

9th: Southend United (65 Points) (+26)

A strong finish is a great understatement of the work that has gone on in Essex. Without their ten-point deduction, Southend would already have sealed a spot in the Play-Offs. A fifteen-game unbeaten streak, including wins in their last three, has propelled them into contention though. The Shrimpers are the underdogs in this final-day battle, but that is a label fitting for a side that has overcome adversity, and appears to be at the start of their journey back into the Football League

Opponents: Rochdale (H) (11th)

Win: Only a win will do, and in any case, results also need to go in their favour. Both Aldershot and Halifax would have to be beaten, but if all three results did happen, then the Shrimpers’ vastly superior goal difference would mean they would snatch seventh spot.

Draw: N/A

Loss: N/A

 

Writer’s View

It is hard to look past Halifax on the final day after they put fate back in their own hands two nights ago. What is for sure is that if there is any slip-up by the Shaymen in Hampshire, then Aldershot and Southend will be ready to pounce.

All three are deserving of a shot at promotion in their own right, and none were tipped for the top seven at the beginning of the season. While two sides will ultimately come out disappointed, each side can look back proudly on their achievements over the course of 46 games. A final 90 minutes of drama only the National League can produce awaits!

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