Brackley Town hoping for home comforts in the play-offs

Kevin Wilkin is hoping home advantage will pay off for Brackley Town as they prepare to enter the Vanarama National League North play-offs.

Thursday, 12th May 2022, 8:00 am
Brackley Town manager Kevin Wilkin is hoping home advantage will pay off for his team in the play-offs. Picture by Glenn Alcock

The Saints will take on York City in the semi-finals at St James Park on Saturday (3pm kick-off) after the Minstermen beat Chorley 2-1 in their eliminator on Wednesday night.

Wilkin’s team, who finished as runners-up behind champions Gateshead, know that should they progress at the weekend then the final will also be on home soil on Saturday, May 21.

Brackley’s impressive exploits this season have crowds rise at St James Park with five of the last seven home fixtures attracting attendances of more than 950 - a big increase from earlier in the campaign.

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The Saints rounded off their regular season with a goalless draw against Chester last weekend.

And when asked about the importance of home advantage in the play-offs, Wilkin said: “Hopefully it can be important. We’d sooner be at home in these situations, that’s for sure.

“As the season has developed, the crowds have continued to build and we have sustained them.

“The semi-final, and hopefully final, will be a good reward for those fans who have come out and given us their support.

“Last weekend’s game was a dead rubber but we still had a terrific crowd there.

“We need that backing if we are going to be successful through the course of the play-offs.

“It is cup football now and everybody is aware of what that entails.

“It’s a one-off, we have got to do it over 90 minutes and, as always in these situations, you need to have a bit of fortune going your way.”

With the clash against Chester indeed being a ‘dead rubber’ last weekend, Wilkin took the opportunity to shuffle his squad in a bid to keep everyone fresh for Saturday’s semi-final.

“The most important thing last Saturday was to get everybody through to training on Tuesday night and then being available for the weekend,” he added.

“We’ve obviously got some bumps and bruises in the group, which we needed to manage.

“Once we knew we couldn’t win it and second place had been secured, the play-offs became our priority and that’s when you have to manage certain situations.

“That’s what we have tried to do. We have drawn our last couple of games and we should have won last weekend but with so many turnarounds, we couldn’t take advantage of the moments we created.

“Everyone put in a good shift but the most important thing for us now is the play-off semi-final and making sure we get as many players to the starting line as we can.”