Long road to achieving minimum season aim - but Hawks still have one final hurdle to overcome with crunch Chippenham play-off decider

Jake McCarthy admitted the Hawks will have taken the difficult route to achieving a minimum season requirement if they are to secure a National League South play-off place.

By Lewis Mason
Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 2:00 pm
Hawks midfielder Jake McCarthy, centre Picture: Dave Haines
Hawks midfielder Jake McCarthy, centre Picture: Dave Haines

But the former AFC Bournemouth and Weymouth midfielder believes such a barnstorming finish to the campaign in order to achieve the goal of a top-seven finish will stand them in good stead should they be part of the play-offs.

Hawks have produced a fine late-season run which has seen them lose just once in their past 14 matches to leave them on the cusp of clinching the division's final play-off place.

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Should Hawks make it into the play-offs it would be quite the achievement given the fact they went on a run of nine league matches without victory between December and February.

But McCarthy, 26, says there will be no great celebration if a top-seven finish is achieved, with the squad then facing three successive away games if they are to secure promotion back to National League.

‘It's nice from a whole club point of view, staff and players, that we felt we've managed to get ourselves back into a position where we felt we should have been this season,’ said McCarthy.

‘The play-offs were our minimum aim, if not going for the title - obviously now that's gone - our minimum expectation at the start of the season when we all signed and came together as players was play-offs. Hopefully we can achieve that Saturday, that's the plan.

‘Hopefully the result goes our way and we can look forward to the play-offs but, first and foremost, we've got to prepare right and get ready for Saturday.’

McCarthy says Hawks’ management and players would have ‘snapped your hand off’ if they were told they'd require a draw or win at home in their final game to secure a play-off given how things had dropped off after the Christmas period.

And he believes it's strange how things have worked out with the two clubs in with a chance of claiming the remaining play-off spot facing off at Westleigh Park on the final day.

McCarthy added: ‘We said in the changing rooms after the game on Monday (against Hemel Hempstead), we all said and agreed, if you'd offer us one game to win or draw to get in the play-offs at Christmas time we'd have snapped your hand off.

‘Over Christmas we had a bad spell of Covid, injuries and just bad performance but the past three months we've been a different team, really, obviously the new signings have helped.

‘You couldn't really write it. The two teams fighting for the final play-off spot are going to be playing each other in the final game.’