“You deserve this shot at promotion, now take the opportunity.”
That is the simple but clear message from Dean Thomas to his Kettering Town players ahead of tonight’s (Tuesday) Calor League Division One Central play-off semi-final with Daventry Town at Latimer Park (7.45pm).
The Poppies go head-to-head with their Northamptonshire rivals in a one-off clash with the winners going on to face either Rugby Town or Slough Town in the final next Monday for the last remaining promotion place behind champions Dunstable Town.
Kettering beat Daventry twice in the regular campaign with the latest meeting between the two clubs being a 2-0 success for the Poppies in front of over 1,200 fans at Latimer Park on Easter Monday.
But, with it now being an all-or-nothing situation’, Thomas knows his team must look to produce “the perfect performance” if they are to claim a 10th win in a row and keep their promotion dreams alive.
“I am very proud of our players, it has been an excellent turnaround for this club over the last few months,” the Poppies boss said.
“They have worked hard, they get on with each other and they deserve a shot at promotion.
“It’s now up to them to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them.
“We have put ourselves in a wonderful position and now it is a question of who can hold their nerve.
“We can’t let our hearts rule our head, we have to make sure we do the right things and if we play to the standards of the last six months then we will be a handful for them.
“Daventry have had a great season, they had an amazing FA Cup run and for a long time they looked like winning the league.
“But we have all come to this point and, to be honest, I wasn’t really bothered who we were up against.
“I just hope our lads can deliver again and produce the perfect performance because that is what you need in matches like this. There is a thin line between winning and losing.
“Daventry have got some dangerous players and we will have to make sure we are switched on defensively.
“But we must also ensure we give ourselves a chance to show the power we have going forward.”
Kettering will have top scorer Dubi Ogbonna back in their squad after he missed last Saturday’s 3-2 win at North Greenford United while Tommy Hull is also fit. Dan Crowie (hamstring) is set to be the only absentee.
Two turnstiles will be open from 6.45pm tonight and a third from 7.15pm with fans being asked to arrive early to avoid parking problems and queues to get in.
The match is all-pay with season tickets not being valid and there will be half-an-hour of extra-time should the scores still be level after 90 minutes with a penalty shoot-out following on if the two teams still can’t be separated.
Find live updates from Latimer Park tonight by following our football reporter Jon Dunham on Twitter @JonDunhamNT
You will find reports, reaction and pictures from the play-off semi-final on this website and in Thursday’s Northamptonshire Telegraph