'Someone's going to be over the moon, someone's going to be flat on the floor' - Hawks boss Paul Doswell on contrasting feelings to be felt after crunch final day Chippenham contest

Paul Doswell believes Hawks' top-seven National League South finish showdown with Chippenham will provide the perfect preparation for his players – if they are to make the play-offs.

By Lewis Mason
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 1:45 pm

But the Hawks boss hopes it's not his squad who are left feeling 'flat on the floor' after their crunch final-day battle at Westleigh Park on Saturday.

Seventh-placed Hawks entertain Chippenham - in eighth - knowing a win or a draw will see them secure a play-off spot this season.

Yet the Bluebirds - who beat Doswell's side 1-0 at home earlier in the season - need a win from their trip to the south coast to make them the team who claim the last remaining play-off place.

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Hawks boss Paul Doswell Picture: Dave Haines

Doswell says it's a scenario which offers up a perfect replica of the do-or-die nature of the play-offs. Now his squad have to show they can stand up when it really matters, with another possible three games to come if they are to secure promotion to the National League via the play-offs.

Doswell said: ‘In effect, it's the first game of the play-offs (against Chippenham). If we lose on Saturday we're out, if we win or draw we're through, that's effectively what the process is for the next three games (if they get into play-offs).

‘We understand we've got three really hard games, if we get through (secure play-off place), but, again, that's what we're in for and what we knew the season was going to be about.

‘From our point of view - we're not looking further ahead than Saturday - but we do know, in essence, it's the first of the play-offs.’

Doswell has no doubt his group of players can stand up to the task on such a grand occasion. In order to put themselves in the position of claiming a play-off place, they've embarked on an impressive run of just one defeat in the past 14 matches, collecting 28 points from a possible 42 available over that period.

But Doswell does not want all that hard work to now go to waste and his side fall at the final hurdle before the play-offs. He added: ‘I think the main feeling is excitement, if you're involved in football these are the games you want to be involved in, whether that's manager, player or a supporter.

‘It's been such a topsy-turvy season but, only one defeat in 14 (games), has given us the opportunity. If anyone had offered us this three months ago, we'd have snapped their hands off.

‘It's a massive game Saturday, we're expecting a huge crowd down at Westleigh Park, it's not quite a winner-takes-all, but it feels like that.

‘Both teams deserve to be there, it's us versus them, someone's going to be over the moon at 5 o'clock, someone's going to be flat on the floor. That's the nature of sport.’

Hawks will be without on-loan Aldershot centre-back Ben Shroll for the crunch final day clash with Chippenham after he underwent nose surgery this week.

Other than that, Doswell has a full squad to pick from apart from longer-term absentees Guy Hollis and Sam Magri.