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National League Playoff Final: Wembley Awaits

The stage is set for this Sunday's National League Play-off Final with promotion to the Football League on the line as Bromley and Solihull Moors will meet for the 4th time this season, this being the 3rd meeting since the 6th of April, so this final is set to feature two teams that know each other very well and is set up to be a thrilling play-off final with both teams looking to reach the Football League for the first time in the two clubs respective history.

Prior to the start of the playoffs, Gateshead became ineligible as they could not secure a 10-year lease on their stadium from their local council, so the playoff schedule was altered.

Eventually, Altrincham were given a bye straight to their semi-final against Bromley as they were the highest remaining team left in the eliminator round of the playoffs. As a result, Solihull would then host Halifax instead a day later on the Wednesday.

Solihull would breeze past Halifax in the eliminator round, winning 4-2, and were 3-1 up at the end of the first half, so had essentially won the game in the first 45 minutes; the playoff mix-up meant that Solihull would have a day less to prepare for their trip to North London to face Barnet who seemed to be the favourite to go through to the final, however this would not be the case as Solihull would shock the home side scoring their first goal in the 6th minute of the game and would be 2-0 up by half time; however, it wouldn't be Barnet's day as Solihull would continue to be in prime control and score two more goals embarrassing the hosts with a 4-0 scoreline, securing their second final at Wembley this season, with Jack Stevens and Tavhon Campbell scoring in both playoff games and will be crucial to their plans in the final.

On the other side of the playoff table, you have Bromley, who worked hard despite a few rocky fixtures in the league in 2024 and would not have the advantage of playing one less game than Altrincham. It seemed that the away team took more of this opportunity as Bromley began very slowly inviting Altrincham to create all the chances in the first half, and a shot from Chris Conn Clarke would deflect off the foot of Reegan Linney, deceiving Grant Smith and woudl send Altrincham into half time 1-0 up; however, this would change at the start of the second half as Bromley would increase the tempo and in the space of 9 minutes would change things thanks to a brace from Myles Weston and a solo goal from Jude Arthurs that well and truly seemed to shell shock Altrincham and seemingly struggled to create any meaningful chances to get them back in the game.

In the league, the two sides first met in September at Solihull's ARMCO Arena, which ended in a 1-1 draw with the first goal coming from Bromley academy graduate Ben Krauhaus. However, the hosts would level the scoring through Kade Craig; since that game, they were not due to play the reverse fixture until 13th April; however, both progressed to the semi-final of the FA Trophy which took place at Hayes Lane and despite another goal for Ben Krauhaus against Solihull, an Alex Whitmore brace secured the moors a 2-1 win sending Solihull to Wembley for the first time.

The two sides would meet just a week later back at Hayes Lane, with Bromley needing all three points to secure their place in the playoff semi-finals and to make a statement to Solihull that the previous result was a one-off and that is exactly what Bromley did; they came out of the traps in a different gear to the previous week first with a penalty that was dispatched by Michael Cheek. Later a cross was deflected in the goal by Jude Arthurs and finally to seal the 3-0 win Ben Krauhaus finished off his hatrick of goals against Solihull sealing Bromley all 3 points and making a statement in the process.

Whilst the final is not necessarily the combination of teams that everyone thought would make the final it certainly is set to be an exciting and very close final, very similar to the previous seasons and might be too close to call because in one way Bromley have experienced the hype of a Wembley final on two occasions and won on their most recent trip under the arch so are used to the pressure that comes with it and also will be backed by 10,000 + supporters who have definitely helped give them the edge in the crucial games this season. However in another way Solihull will have the upper handas they are in two finals at Wembley within a week of each other as well as this being their second time reaching the playoff final which they lost out last time so they will certainly looking for redemption this time round, however with the FA Trophy final being placed in their diaries for a while longer could their possible low crowd size for the play-off final or the fact that they have eyes on two cup finals ultimately cost them in the long run?

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