National League format for play-offs is a winner, says Harrogate Town’s Simon Weaver

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver.
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver.
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HARROGATE TOWN manager Simon Weaver believes the National League format for the play-offs should be adopted by other competitions.

Promotion-chasing Harrogate host big-spending Salford City tonight in front of the live BT Sport cameras.

Victory would be enough to pull level on 70 points with a club part owned by the ‘Class of 92’, a group of former Manchester United players including Gary Neville, David Beckham and Paul Scholes.

It would also further strengthen Harrogate’s grip on a play-off place with six games remaining.

“It is very exciting,” added Weaver. “The league is very tight with a lot of clubs having a good run, looking to have really grabbed hold of it only to then go off the boil.

“Whoever goes on a good run now will be in a great position.

“We maybe did not expect to be in this position in our first year, but we have been up there all season so we put pressure on ourselves to deliver.”

Such is the concertinaed nature of the table that a host of clubs still harbour realistic hopes of finishing top.

But if it is to be the play-offs for Harrogate then their final position will be vital under a format introduced last season.

The clubs finishing second or third stand potentially just one home game from reaching the final, while the rest (fourth to seventh) must compete in a one-off elimination semi-final before getting a crack at booking a trip to Wembley.

“The play-offs format is one I believe should be adopted by other leagues,” said Weaver, whose side won promotion last term after finishing as runners-up to Salford in National League North.

“There is more reward for those teams finishing higher in the regular season.

“Some play-offs can be very frustrating. A team can finish second or third and 20 points ahead of another, but then get knocked out due to all the pressure being on them in a one-off home tie.

“Often the team finishing lower down goes in believing they have nothing to lose. Often that can lead to the weaker team getting promoted.

“But by finishing in the top three in the National League you are a home game away from Wembley.

“Those finishing sixth or seventh then have to get to Wembley the hard way, really earning it (by winning two away games). That is fair dinkum.”