Harrogate Town braced for historic National League North play-off clash against AFC Fylde
Harrogate Town are bracing themselves for tonight's crunch play-off semi-final against AFC Fylde.
The Coasters arrive at the CNG Stadium for the first of two legs, with the winner facing either North Ferriby United or Boston United in a straight shoot-out for promotion.
More than 1,000 supporters are expected to cram into Town's Wetherby Road ground again before the reverse leg takes place on the West Coast on Sunday.
Both sides are hunting a rise into the highest tier of Non League football for a first time
Town boss Simon Weaver was hoping to rekindle memories of the Town support during the 2012 FA Cup run which saw Town eventually beaten in a replay against Hastings United.
The two teams played out an entertaining 2-2 draw when Fylde visited the CNG Stadium in November however the Coasters gained the ascendancy in the play-off race with a 2-1 win over Town last month.
Fylde’s free-flowing attacking game has one of the best reputations in the league but Dave Challinor’s men have been vulnerable at home, losing six times at Kellamergh Park over the course of the campaign.
Goalscorer Danny Rowe has been the focal point of the club’s success with a league high 24 goals this campaign, two more than Town brightspark Brendon Daniels.
Weaver said: “It won’t be all about planning to stop them. It will be about whether they can handle us at our best.
“The aim for us is to fire the lads up to believe that when we’re at our best, our system is better than theirs.”
Town's 5-0 thrashing of already relegated Corby Town at the weekend secured a play-off place for the first time in ten years.
Neil Aspin was the last manager to guide the Wetherby Roaders into the play-off positions at the end of the 2015/16 campaign.
The previous best under Weaver was a sixth place finish in the 2012/13 season, the same year the long-term boss guided Town into the second round of the FA Cup.
Saturday’s success ended a run of nervy run of four games without a win and meant Town won exactly half of their National League North fixtures to secure fourth place with a points haul of 72.
Weaver said: “What we need to do now is take advantage of that.
“There’s a sense of relief that no matter what happens, we have finished fourth in a very competitive National League North. But if we’re on it, we have a thirst for more.
“We can succeed. We have a great fan base now, great facilities. This year we had to do it, and we have done it.
“We won’t get carried away, no one is getting blasé. We want to play humble football but ruthless football at the same time and it’s something to relish.”