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National League Semi-Finals: Wembley Awaits

A fantastic weekend of semi-final action, with Notts County winning 3-2 in the dying minutes of extra time after trailing for most of the game, and Chesterfield managed to find the energy to win against an equally tired Bromley in another 3-2 thriller.

The game between Borehamwood and Notts County started with the two teams seeming closely contested until the 37th minute of the game, where Borehamwood drew first blood when George Broadbent picked out Femi Ilesanmi in the middle, who bundled the ball past Sam Slocombe to give the visitors the lead.

Borehamwood carried on their moment until the end of the first half with an inform Lee Ndlovu capitalising on a defensive Notts County mistake by Aden Baldwin before calmly sliding the ball past Slocombe to give Borehamwood an even bigger cushion going into the halftime break.

The Woods' 2-0 cushion would be wiped out in the 47th minute of the game when Baldwin made up for his first-half mistake by striking an exceptional ball from 25 yards out past emergency loan keeper Joe McDonnell; this would create an onslaught of pressure from Notts County, with one of the attacks seeing Ruben Rodrigues win a penalty which McDonnell easily saved.

A 2-1 result seemed inevitable until the game's dying minutes, where goalscorer Baldwin rose to direct Jones's cross over the line and take Borehamwood to extra time.

Similarly to the beginning of the first half, there was nothing much to separate the two sides, with a few chances from Borehamwood substitute Josh Rees couldn't find the target, and in the 120th minute of the game Notts County took advantage with a long-range effort from Jodi Jones, sealing the win for Notts County and a place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

The second game of the day, between Chesterfield and Bromley, had a hectic start. It was first delayed due to crowd congestion and a further stoppage due to a medical emergency in the crowd, which players and match officials swiftly spotted.

Once the game was able to get underway, the chances came from the visitors Bromley, with Adam Marriot glancing an early header wide from a Judge Arthurs free kick, with later picking up a yellow card for a late lunge on Deji Elewere and could have seen red after this after going down in the box awaiting a challenge from Callum Reynold for either simulation or his reaction to the referee not awarding Chesterfield a penalty.

The deadlock was eventually broken in the 14th minute of first half stoppage time when Cheek sent a low cross across the box, confusing Ash Palmer and goalkeeper Ross Fitzsimons leaving Adam Marriot with an easy tap-in.

Chesterfield would equalise just before the hour mark of the game when Ryan Colclough's cross deflected Deji Elewere into his net, living up the home crowd in the process; the game would then be halted in the 69th minute as a pair of drones flew overhead, delaying even further the last nerve-racking 20 minutes of the game for both sides.

After play had resumed, things would go from bad to worse for Elewere, the hero against Woking, but in the final 15 minutes, he flew into a challenge on Liam Mandeville and shown a straight red card, leaving Bromley with ten men.

Billy Bingham was inches from conceding a penalty for handball on the edge of the box; however, it resulted in a Chesterfield free-kick which Oldaker dispatched through the Bromley wall and past Reice Charles-Cook, giving Chesterfield the lead.

This goal looked like the winner, but in the game's dying minutes, a cross from Mitchell Bergkamp was headed down by Omar Sowumni to Michael Cheek to send the game to extra time, with his 17th goal of the season sending the game to extra time.

The two sides were exhausted going into extra time, and it seemed as if the dreaded penalties were going to be the decider; however, Chesterfield found their reserves of energy when Mandeville collected the ball after a mistake from Bergkamp and struck the ball past Charles-Cook, sealing the win and sending Chesterfield to Wembley to face Notts County on Saturday.

Yet again, the National League has provided another set of thrilling matches that saw so much action and kept everyone on the edge of their seats until the final whistle.

While it is commiserations for Borehamwood and Bromley, Luke Garrard and Andy Woodman's sides did not give up and gave both Notts County and Chesterfield challenging games until the dying minutes, but it just wasn't to be for the two sides.

Just like the eliminator round, the semi-finals produced so much action; This was another excellent advert for the league, which will conclude Saturday afternoon under the arch in Wembley, which will see what many people's favourites to reach the final Notts County and Chesterfield take on each other on which is set to be another great game.


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