Welcome back! I can't tell you how great it is to be talking football again and I hope you have all been able to stay safe during what has been a very unusual and in some cases difficult time.
I would like to start by wishing Barrow all the best for their return to the Football League. Whilst I find it difficult to accept the circumstances of their promotion they were without doubt one of the stand out teams in the league this season. Ian Evatt appeared to work wonders so it was inevitable he would end up leaving for a better job eventually, although the circumstances around his move to Bolton ensures the irony won't be lost on Notts fans.
The National League's resolution which included an unweighted points per game conclusion to the league table and the completion of play offs at steps 1 and 2 was voted through by the representative clubs so 6 teams will have a pop at promotion.
Boreham Wood will host Halifax Town on 17th July and Yeovil will host Barnet on 18th July with both Harrogate and Notts County respectively waiting in the wings to host the winners of each match in the semi finals on 25th July. It is understood the final will be held behind closed doors at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 2nd August.
So without further ado lets get stuck in starting with Boreham Wood vs Halifax.
Both teams go into the tie having managed to retain most of their playing staff for the play off's. Halifax will have to be wary of strike partners Kabongo Tshimanga (pictured) and Tyrone Marsh who have scored 33 goals between them for Boreham Wood who will also have the experienced Matt Rhead to call on.
Halifax have been inconsistent in front of goal managing to score 4 or more goals on 5 occasions but have conceded 4 or more goals on 4 occasions. Leading scorer Liam McAlinden (pictured) has pitched in with 10 goals for the season.
The following chart shows how the two teams ranked for the season so far.
It would seem that Boreham Wood have the edge and on recent form are unbeaten in their last 9 games at home and having lost just 1 game in their last 19 National League outings.
By contrast Halifax have struggled on the road with only 1 win in the last 6 away games and losing their last 2 games at home.
Boreham Wood | P 6 | W 3 | D 2 | L 1 | GF 9 | GA 7 | GD +2 | PTS 11
Halifax | P 6 | W 3 | D 0 | L 3 | GF 7 | GA 7 | GD 0 | PTS 9
Skybet have Boreham Wood at 6/1 to win the play off's and Halifax at 16/1 and it's difficult to see past a home win.
Yeovil will face Barnet at Huish Park in the second play off eliminator who benefited from the PPG calculations and sneaked into 7th place at the expense of Stockport.
The Bees will be confident going into this match having hit some form in the last few days before lockdown. They have been able to announce a 25 man strong squad and will be boosted by the inclusion of striker Paul McCallum (pictured) who has had his recent loan from Solihull Moors extended, a spell that saw him net 4 times in 5 games.
Yeovil's inconsistent form was enough to ensure 4th place on PPG and home advantage. Courtney Duffus and Rhys Murphy (pictured) have 30 goals between them in the league this season and the front line was strengthened with the winter signing of Marc Richards from Cambridge United.
How the two teams current ratings compare is charted below.
There is very little to choose between the two clubs. Yeovil have a decent home record but Barnet rank quite highly on the road and will hope recent form remains a factor.
Yeovil | P 6 | W 2 | D 1 | L 3 | GF 5 | GA 6 | GD -1 | PTS 7
Barnet | P 6 | W 3 | D 2 | L 1 | GF 9 | GA 6 | GD +3 | PTS 11
Bookies will probably favour Yeovil who are currently at 5/1 with Skybet to win the play off's and Barnet at 10/1. I have a feeling Barnet will be the play off dark horses and expect to see them facing Notts at Meadow Lane in the semi finals.
Onto Harrogate Town who go into the play off's as bookies favourites having finished just behind Barrow in 2nd place on PPG.
The Town have goalscorers all over the pitch and were in good form going into lockdown having won 8 and lost just 2 of their last 12 league games. They will be hoping leading scorer Jack Muldoon adds to his 13 goals in the league for the season so far and also have the experience of seasoned striker Jon Stead (pictured) to call on who has also recently seen himself in the goals.
Harrogate's current ratings in the league below.
Harrogate last 6:
P 6 | W 3 | D 2 | L 1 | GF 12 | GA 7 | GD +5 | PTS 11
At 7/4 with Skybet Harrogate are current favourites and you would expect to see them at Wembley in the final in August.
Finally Notts County who will be looking to capitalise on the opportunity to bounce back up into the football league at the first time of asking.
The Magpies were in fantastic form prior to lockdown having won their last 4 league games on the bounce, scoring 12 goals and conceding just 5 in the process.
Notts County last 6:
P 6 | W 4 | D 1 | L 1 | GF 12 | GA 5 | GD + 7 | PTS 13.
Neal Ardley named a strong 24 man squad for the play off's which includes recent signing Callum Roberts (pictured) who has already made himself a fans favourite with 3 goals and 3 assists from midfield in just 8 appearances.
Second favourites to Harrogate with Skybet at 9/4 Notts' have a squad full of league experience and will be disappointed not to make the Wembley final.
How the 6 teams compare:
We all know play off's can be an absolute lottery and recent form may as well go out of the window as it's been over 3 months since either team last played.
The match dates are such that they might actually offer an advantage to the eliminator game winners as they will have a competitive match and the confidence of a win behind them as well as a full week to recover. Harrogate and Notts will be glad of their home advantage.
I'll be back with more detailed analysis prior to the eliminator games. Until then stay safe!
Betting odds are only used as another means to assess current form and sporting industry expectations of possible result. Notts County Stats do not endorse any form of gambling or betting industry associated businesses.