Harrogate Town and Braintree have both been promoted to the National League after navigating play off final wins against Brackley and Hampton & Richmond respectively. For Harrogate it was their first ever promotion to the fifth tier, and it brought incredible scenes to North Yorkshire. Town started the better side and were in front as Dom Knowles converted a penalty for the second successive game. The striker was on hand again 5 minutes before half time to double their lead, after curling a fabulous shot into the top corner of the net. In the second half Brackley were desperately pushing for a route back into the game, but on the 70-minute mark it was game over. Ryan Fallowfield’s surged down the right side and his expert cutback allowed Leesley to smash the ball into the back of the net. Harrogate can now look forward to their first season in the National League, and their preparations for the new season are already well under way.
In the South section the game was a lot closer. There was heartbreak on penalties for Hampton & Richmond as Braintree won their place back in the National League at the first time of asking. It was a dream start for Hampton as they were in front inside the first 10 minutes, and the game continued to ebb and flow in the first half until Braintree found an equaliser right before half time. Grant’s powerful header flew past Dieng and into the back of the net. The second half failed to produce any more goalmouth action and the scores were level at full time. Extra time saw great chances spurned by both times and we were facing penalties to decide the fate of these two teams. Diaz Right won the shootout for Braintree by beating Hampton & Richmond’s goalkeeper to confirm their place back in the 5th tier. Harrogate and Braintree will join Havant & Waterlooville and Salford City in the National League next season after winning their respective titles.
Looking to move out of the National League were Tranmere and Boreham Wood. The two sides faced each other in the showpiece event at Wembley for a place in League Two. It was Tranmere who clinched promotion after a dramatic 2-1 victory. It was the worst possible start for the White Army who received a red card inside 48 seconds for Liam Ridehalgh. This however seemed to inspire Tranmere who took the lead 5 minutes later as Andy Cook powered a header into the back of the net. It looked as though that they were going to hold on until half time until the Londoners equalised right before the whistle. It looked as though Wood were going to press on and find the winner in the second half with their numerical advantage. But on the 80th minute Tranmere scored the winner as Jennings crossed for Norwood to seal their place back in League 2.
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