Belper Town head into the final week of the regular season with an outside chance of finishing in second place, but whatever happens the Nailers have performed nothing short of a miracle in achieving a play-off place after being bottom of the table in mid- October.
It wasn’t an easy ride for the Nailers at Harrison Park. In fact for long spells the Blues looked the better side and certainly tested Belper to the full.
“We knew it wouldn’t be easy,” said Duffield, “it never is at Leek and I’m only surprised that they weren’t pushing harder for a play-off place after getting there last year.
“I didn’t expect any other than a difficult game and it was an uncomfortable afternoon for us, but it will stand us in good stead for the games to come which will be just as difficult if not more so.”
With just one game to go it still isn’t clear whom the Nailers will face in the first play-off game on Bank Holiday Monday (3pm).
It could be one of three teams, Chasetown, Sutton Coldfield or Halesowen, however the current formbook suggests it could be the Scholars who make their way to Christchurch Meadow on Monday afternoon.
Only a major slip up will prevent King’s Lynn taking the championship which could be decided in midweek prior to the Linnets’ arrival in Belper this coming Saturday.
If King’s Lynn beat Sheffield FC at home on Tuesday evening then it will all be over regardless of what Coalville might be able to do at Leek, and would leave Peter Duffield with a dilemma with team selection on Saturday.
“It’s quite possible that Saturday’s game will be meaningless for both teams so I will have to think hard about the team I put out,” he said. “Having got this far we must go on and finish the job and that means having our best available team for Monday. However on the other hand, I want to keep our unbeaten run going for as long as possible.”
Colin Marrison will be available for the play offs as he will have completed his suspension after Saturday.