Dean Thomas has urged his Kettering Town players to “seize the moment” as the preparations for the Calor League Division One play-offs get under way.
The Poppies rounded off the regular season by claiming a ninth victory in a row as Josh Moreman came off the bench to grab the winner in their 3-2 success at North Greenwood United.
Kettering went into the clash knowing there was still a chance of them claiming the title. But that honour went to morning leaders Dunstable Town, who beat Uxbridge 1-0 while Rugby Town secured second place with a 6-0 verdict at AFC Hayes.
But the Poppies did finish third as their win moved them above Daventry Town, who went down 1-0 at home to Chalfont St Peter.
It all means that Kettering will take on Daventry in the one-off semi-final at Latimer Park on Tuesday night with the winners going on to face either Rugby or Slough Town in the final on Bank Holiday Monday.
The Poppies’ clash with Daventry will arrive a week on from their match on Easter Monday, which Thomas’ side won 2-0 in front of over 1,200 fans.
And while he believes his team have an edge over their opponents, Thomas insists his players will have to do things right if they are to move to within one win of promotion.
“I just said before the game that all we could do was win and enjoy it,” the Poppies boss said.
“It was always going to be a case of what will be, will be but I made it clear to the boys that they were also potentially playing for a home semi-final.
“We have achieved what we wanted to achieve. We are in the play-offs and getting a home semi-final will hopefully be a big bonus for us as well.
“I thought we dominated the game in the first half, we got a bit sloppy in the second half and conceded a couple of goals and then Josh has come off the bench and won us the game.
“It is nice that we have won another game and kept the run going. It has been a great season and now we have to seize the moment.
“I think psychologically we have got the edge over Daventry, we have beaten them three times this season.
“But it will all come down to the day and who holds their nerve best. We have to make sure we rise to the occasion and do things right.”
Top scorer Dubi Ogbonna wasn’t involved in the Poppies’ squad for the game and it seems mystery surrounds his situation as he didn’t show up when he was due to be picked up.
Thomas said: “I don’t know what happened with Dubi.
“He never showed and he didn’t get picked up where he should have done. We have had no reports or phone calls. That will be dealt with internally.”
Thomas, meanwhile, revealed defender Dan Crowie is unlikely to be fit for Tuesday’s game due to a hamstring injury but James Clifton, who scored their second goal at North Greenford, was withdrawn at half-time as “a precaution” and should be ready for the play-off semi-final.
Don’t miss all the build-up to Tuesday’s play-off semi-final between the Poppies and Daventry on this website