The battle at the top of the National League table has finally been settled, and it is the most predictable of the two outcomes which has come to pass.
Lincoln City have been promoted back to League Two, after a magical season which has also seen the Imps become the first non-league side to oust a top-flight club in three decades.
It is very likely that Tranmere will follow, but far stranger things have happened in the history of the beautiful game. Three playoff places are already spoken for – by Tranmere, Forest Green and Dagenham & Redbridge – and the fourth is likely to be occupied by Aldershot. As such, the inherent drama of the playoffs will be largely put on ice, with the battle at the bottom taking centre stage on the final weekend.
29 April – A Day of Destiny
Braintree’s chances appear remote, since the Essex club has a poor goal difference in relation to the three teams that are within reach. If Dover beat Macclesfield in midweek, then ‘Mission Improbable’ will become virtually impossible for Braintree, as final day hosts Aldershot (a much stronger side) will be gunning for the victory that would seal the last promotion playoff place.
Hovering one point outside the relegation zone are Guiseley and Torquay United, with the teams respectively at home to an already-safe Solihull Moors and an already-relegated North Ferriby. Torquay should have no trouble dispatching a doomed side with aplomb, and home advantage can only prove useful to Guiseley against Solihull. This is, most certainly, bad news for York City.
York vs Forest Green: The Bookies’ View
With a frantic finish to 2016/17 expected, betting markets are offering generous odds on both teams to score, as well as money back for newcomers that have a spare tenner to hand – as seen on sites like Footy Accumulators football tips. Arguably, of the twelve final day fixtures, York vs North Ferriby, is one of the most difficult to predict.
Flying high in third place, Forest Green’s only incentive for victory is the acquisition of home advantage in the second leg of the club’s looming promotion playoff semi-final with Dagenham & Redbridge. With this in mind, York’s battling XI is marginally the favourite (at 11/8) to prevail and uphold their end of the bargain.
York City: The Saddest End Awaits
Just three years ago, York City stood on the cusp of promotion to League One, but fell to a Fleetwood Town side that has risen meteorically over the past decade. For York, a victory over Macclesfield in the FA Trophy final could provide a bittersweet end if the worst should come to pass. For a club of York’s (relative) magnitude at this level, a second consecutive relegation would permanently shatter what little prestige remains at a Bootham Crescent.
Indeed, with a capacity of just over 8,000, Bootham Crescent has been one of the more revered grounds to host National League football in 2016/17. In previous years, it has seen a victory over Everton in the EFL Cup. It has also been witness to a gutsy 3-2 defeat to Manchester United in the same competition, which secured a shock aggregate win over the Red Devils.
At no point in the club’s proud history, has the name of York City suffered the ignominy of a place in the sixth tier of English football. Barring a minor miracle, such a nightmare for the Minstermen will soon become reality.