The promotion race: All the permutations heading into the season’s climax
With South Shields fighting for automatic promotion heading into the last round of fixtures, the picture was always inevitably set to be complicated by a host of ‘what if’ scenarios.
After earning a huge three points in the 3-2 victory over Scarborough Athletic on Monday, Shields remain in hope of gaining automatic promotion.
Shields travel to Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday knowing that they must beat the Holy Blues to have any chance of winning the league and with it, the one automatic promotion spot.
They will then need 18th-placed Marine to win at Farsley Celtic, as a win or a draw would be enough for Celtic to secure the title.
Celtic are currently three points ahead of the Mariners on 87 points but with Shields’ superior goal difference, a defeat would give the South Tyneside club a big chance to win a fourth successive title.
The first round of play-off matches will take place on Tuesday, April 30 and if Shields are involved, they will take on Nantwich Town, Buxton or Gainsborough Trinity at Mariners Park.
Shields’ opponents would depend on their final league position. Should they finish second, they will face the side which ends the season fifth, and if they are third, they will take on the fourth-placed side.
If Shields are in the play-offs and win that opening game, they will face the winner of the other league play-off tie on Saturday, May 4 at the home of whichever team finished the season higher in the table.
The winners of that match would take on the winners of the Evo-Stik South Premier Division Central play-offs, which will involve Stourbridge, King’s Lynn Town, Alvechurch and Stratford Town.
The so-called super play-off final will take place on Saturday, May 11.
The venue will be the home of the club which ended the season with the best points per game ratio. Should South Shields, Farsley Celtic or Warrington Town compete in that match, they are already guaranteed home advantage.
So much hinges on this weekend, with Farsley and Shields going head-to-head for the title.
Then, the super play-offs will commence.