We had goals galore, trophies to be hoisted, promotion to be celebrated, playoff positions to be snatched at the last possible moment, and relegations to be mourned- or avoided. Our final day provided enough drama to fill the 9PM slot on BBC One ten times over!
The North Division kicked off with four teams in with a shout of grabbing the second promotion slot behind AFC Hornchurch. Potters Bar Town had the advantage, but were they to slip up then any of Bowers & Pitsea, Haringey Borough of Heybridge Swifts could have stepped in. After twenty minutes of their match at Barking the Scholars were level and in the live table had slipped to fourth place, but…well, you can read all about the outcome HERE as it was our #Bostikmatchday feature. Spoiler alert-congratulations to all at the Pakex!
Bowers did all they possibly could to claw back that promotion place, going four-nil up at home to Brentwood Town after only twenty-three minutes, Lewis Manor, Ben Sartain, Jamie Dicks and Martyn Stokes the scorers. Tom Ranger pulled one back for Brentwood, but it wasn’t to be their day as Potters Bar made sure that they remained second. Haringey Borough joined Bowers on 89 points with a 2-1 win over Bury Town at Ram Meadow, Lauren Luke and Ralston Gabriel scoring to delight Aki’s Army whist Cemal Ramadan hit the target for Town; whilst Heybridge Swifts continued their good form with a 2-1 win over Soham Town Rangers, Luke Callander and Juan Luque putting them clear at the break before Lewis Clayton pulled a goal back for the away side. Sixth place Canvey Island were already assured on a playoff spot, and had to come from behind at home to Ware to snatch a draw, Mitchell Gilbey’s second goal of the day rescuing a point after Jordon Watson and Dave Cowley had given the visitors the lead early in the second half.
The bottom of the table saw Romford start the day three points behind Norwich United, knowing that to avoid relegation they had to win and see United lose. As well as delivering on their half of that deal, the Boro will be undoubtedly sending a crate of Tizer to Cheshunt manager Craig Edwards, as the Ambers turned on the style, withstanding a brave comeback to send United crashing to relegation with a 6-3 victory. Cheshunt went three goals up through Jason Hallett (2) and Kyle Roberts only to see Adam Hipperson, Harry Barker and Charlie Hitch draw the Planters level, but Cheshunt weren’t done and Ricky Sappleton (2) and Kyle Roberts had the final say. Romford, meanwhile, were coming from behind at home to Maldon & Tiptree to turn the form book on its head and cap a magnificent April which started with them five points behind United having played a game more. Lee Barnard put the Jammers ahead, but goals from Carlos Djalo Oso, Ayodeji Olukoga and Kris Newby gave Romford some semblance of comfort before Barnard made their knees knock, bringing it back to 3-2 seven minutes from time. But a Greg Akpele goal a minute from time confirmed what many would scarcely have believed- Romford retain their Bostik North status!
The other matches saw wins for AFC Sudbury, Aveley, Dereham Town and Tilbury over Grays Athletic, Mildenhall Town, Hertford Town and Witham Town, whilst Waltham Abbey and AFC Hornchurch played out a 2-2 draw.
The Playoff Semi-Finals will take place on Wednesday night, with Bowers & Pitsea hosting Canvey Island whilst Haringey Borough take on Heybridge Swifts.
The South Division kicked off with promotion already assured for Carshalton Athletic and Lewes, but with the small matter of whether Robins or Rooks would take the title still to be decided. Well it was the Robins who rose to that challenge, walloping seven goals past VCD Athletic without reply in front of 785 at Colston Avenue- Ola Sogbanmu (2), Christie Pattison, Tommy Bradford, Jordan Cheadle, Peter Adeniyi and Omar Koroma finding the net. Lewes were held 0-0 by Chipstead at the Dripping Pan- but 1134 turned out to see it.
The drama was in the playoff places, with Hythe Town, Corinthian-Casuals and Walton Casuals fighting for the last two spots. As we reached the last minute it seemed that Corinthian-Casuals would miss out, 1-0 down at Hythe to a late Zak Ansah goal, but a last gasp strike from Harry Ottaway levelled the scores and sent James Bracken’s men through whilst leaving Hythe in heartbreak city. Walton Casuals, who started the day occupying seventh place, knew that they had to win to get back into the sixth place that they’d occupied for much of the season, and they had to stage a late show themselves. One-nil up through the prolific Josh Kelly, they saw themselves pegged back at Ashford United by a Joshua Oyinsan equaliser fifteen minutes from time, but this spurred them into action and Kelly once more, followed by Sean McCormack and Youseff Bamba saw them reach the promised land of the end-of-season lottery and create despair elsewhere in Kent.
Cray Wanderers guaranteed themselves third place and home advantage in the playoffs with a 4-0 win over Guernsey, Michael Power (2), Junior Dadson and Kyron Farrell their scorers, whilst Greenwich Borough slipped to fourth, a Connor Wilkins goal earning victory for Herne Bay. The Playoff Semi-Finals on Tuesday night will see Cray take on Walton Casuals, whilst Borough host Corinthian-Casuals in a repeat of last season’s semi final clash- which Casuals won 4-3.
Elsewhere in the Division Sittingbourne continued their recent good form with a 2-1 victory at Hastings United, whilst Whyteleafe travelled to Culver Road and put five past a Horsham side who managed only two of their own in reply. Molesey have suddenly found form with two wins in a week, defeating Faversham Town 2-1, whilst Phoenix Sports and Ramsgate also finished with a flourish, both finding the net four times against Shoreham and East Grinstead Town respectively. Finally, Thamesmead Town scored six against South Park- who we hear will be appointing a new manager imminently. The Sparks got two of their own in reply.
It isn’t often that we leave the Premier Division until last, but the title was already won by Billericay Town and the playoff places confirmed barring a mathematical miracle. Well we didn’t get that miracle, so Dulwich Hamlet will host Leiston on Thursday evening, whilst up the road in North London Hendon will be welcoming Folkestone Invicta. The drama, however, was at the other end, where Tooting & Mitcham United had to better the result of Burgess Hill Town to stay up. Both sides were on the road, the Terrors travelling to Met Police whilst the Hillians were at Harrow Borough.
Tooting were up against it from the off, Liam Enver-Marum giving Met a first minute lead which was soon followed by a goal from Tom Hickey, whilst the Hillians contrived to go 2-0 up at half time through Pat and Lee Harding but then threw it away by conceding three goals in the second period, Ryan Moss, George Moore and Kurtis Cumberbatch giving Borough the points. It didn’t matter too much, given that Tooting had failed to mount anything that resembled a comeback, but it was a typical end to a season which saw Hill escape relegation by the skin of their teeth for the third time in a row- only goal difference keeping the two sides apart. You'll recognise a Hillians fan by the fact they've chewed their fingernails right down to their knuckles.
Elsewhere, Dorking Wanderers enjoyed their last ever match at Westhumble by recording the biggest victory seen in the division all season, thrashing Lowestoft Town 8-0! Dan Pearse and Gareth Chendlik managed two each, whilst the other four were shared by Tom Tolfrey, Dan Walker, Lewis Taylor and Guiseppe Sole as Wanderers finished their first ever campaign at this level in style and in fourteenth place. Staines Town continued their usual goal rush, Elliot Buchanan hitting four with- of course- Mohamed Bettamer with the other as the Swans won 5-2 over Thurrock, who had earlier taken a two goal lead through Ronnie Winn and Jordan Clark. Kingstonian were also high scorers, Daniel Ajakaiye, Greg Cundle and two from Mohammadu Faal giving them a comfortable victory over Needham Market.
At the top end of the division, Billericay Town had to come from behind twice to draw with Folkestone Invicta, for whom Joseph Taylor must have felt he’d got a winner when scoring his- and his side’s- second in the 89th minute. But Billericay are good at late goals, and Jamie O’Hara popped up to equalise and ensure that Invicta couldn’t spoil the promotion party for the majority of the 2,206 crowd- and in doing so helped Hendon to a home advantage in the playoffs. The Greens were at Leiston, and goals from Ashley Nathaniel-George and Daniel Uchechi gave them three points, despite Joe Marsden reducing the arrears. Leiston still ended the day in fifth place, and will travel to Tooting to face Dulwich Hamlet, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Margate.
Leatherhead ended the season just outside the playoff positions, level on points with Leiston but sixth on goal difference. They travelled to Tonbridge Angels, and goals from Tom Derry and Daniel Gallagher helped them to take the points back to Fetcham Grove.
Wingate & Finchley defeated Harlow Town 1-0, Merstham and Enfield Town equally shared two goals at Moatside, whilst Worthing and Brightlingsea Regent ended all square at Woodside Road, 2-2, in front of a crowd of 1060.
For details of the playoff fixtures, please click HERE. Good luck to all of our Semi-Finalists!