Hawks boss Paul Doswell aiming to end his run of ‘sickening’ play-off losses this weekend

Hawks manager Paul Doswell. Photo by Dave HainesHawks manager Paul Doswell. Photo by Dave Haines
Hawks manager Paul Doswell. Photo by Dave Haines
Paul Doswell is aiming to end a miserable play-off record this weekend.

The Hawks boss has taken part in a play-off campaign six times in his managerial career.

He won the first one with Eastleigh, but lost the last five with Sutton. In all, Doswell has failed to win any of his last seven play-off matches - a statistic Hawks will have to end if they want to keep their dream of an automatic return to the National League alive.

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Eastleigh won the Isthmian Premier League play-offs in 2004/05 via home wins over Braintree and Leyton.

Doswell, whose side host Dartford in the National League South play-off semi-finals tomorrow, has been out of luck ever since.

In his first season as Sutton boss, in 2008/09, he lost the Isthmian Premier League play-off semi-final 3-0 at Staines.

The following season, they finished runners-up but were beaten 4-2 at home by a Kingstonian side who had finished fifth.

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Sutton led 2-1 at half-time before former Hawks keeper Kevin Scriven was beaten three times in the second half.

After being crowned Isthmian champions in 2010/11, Sutton lost in the Conference South play-off semi-final the following year, losing 2-1 at home to Welling and drawing 0-0 away.

In 2013/14 Doswell again led Sutton to a runners-up spot, only to lose 4-1 on aggregate to a Dover side who had finished fifth, 12 points behind them.

Sutton drew 1-1 away before crashing 3-0 at home to a Dover side who had a man sent off only after three minutes.

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Dover had only squeezed into the play-offs on goal difference from Hawks, but ended up winning promotion.

After winning the South division in 2015/16, Doswell’s last play-off agony was a 3-2 home loss to Boreham Wood in 2017/18 after Sutton had finished third in the top tier of non-league football.

Current Hawks player Nicky Bailey was in the Sutton team against Wood.

Doswell recalled: ‘Staines were miles better than us, we didn’t deserve to go up, we’d finished sixth.

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‘Kingstonian was one of those which leave you moaning that the play-offs are not fair. We’d finished second, miles ahead of Kingstonian, but Bobby Traynor scored two Marco Van Basten type volleys - it was a sickening blow.

‘Dover away in the first leg we absolutely battered them but I lost three of my back four to injury and I had to put three under-21s in for the second leg.

‘Dover had only just sneaked into the play-offs in the last minute of the last game. We’d finished second again, miles ahead of Dover, but came unstuck with those three injuries.

‘I picked the wrong team against Boreham Wood, I should have started with (Ross) Lafeyette and (Tommy) Wright up front.

‘The experience you gain from the play-offs is good, but it’s always a sickening feeling when you lose.’