One thing’s for certain come Saturday evening – someone’s luck in the play-offs is bound to improve. Littered through both the Fleet and Dover teams is a fair amount of play-off misfortune – and plenty of experience, too. Fleet’s Daryl McMahon is hoping to end a run of three final defeats. Anthony Cook is hoping it’s third time lucky after two disappointing campaigns with Chelmsford, as is BIlly Bricknell having fallen victim to the play-offs for both Chelmsford and Dover.
Ben May’s luck is also due for an upturn, having missed Scunthorpe’s promotion to the Championship via the end-of-season lottery and then out through injury for Stevenage’s attempts in 2011, before finishing on the losing end of Dover’s run to the final last season.
For the Whites, Ricky Modeste suffered two ill-fated Chelmsford campaigns as well as Dover’s defeat to Salisbury last year – though with his two goals against Sutton in this season’s semi-final, he’s sure to be thinking his cards have finally come up. Terrell Forbes has lost two finals, with QPR and Yeovil, while Moses Ademola (Woking) and Jeff Goulding (Cheltenham) are also looking for their first finals win.
There is success, of course, with Preston Edwards, Paul Lorraine, Joe Howe, Michael West, Craig Stone and Ashley Carew all having won a promotion final with the Fleet in 2011. Stacy Long has a decent track record with Stevenage while for Dover, James Rogers has won a final – the previous all-Kent Conference South final between Dartford and Welling (where he came up against Anthony Acheampong).
Below is a full rundown of the players in both squads to have tasted victory and heartbreak in previous play-off semi-finals and finals.
Preston Edwards: Won automatic promotion on loan to Dover in the Ryman League in 2009 but missed the play-off semi-finals with the Fleet in 2010-11 through injury. Returned for the final, where he picked up a winners’ medal v Farnborough.
Joe Howe: More often than not vying with Derek Duncan in defence during the promotion season of 2010-11, he was a sub during the semi-finals but a surprise inclusion for the final after Duncan failed a late fitness test. Performed admirably to help the club to the Conference Premier and went from strength to strength since.
Chris Sessegnon: A late substitute for Dover in their semi-final second leg penalty shootout win over Eastleigh in 2012-13, he didn’t feature at all in the final at Salisbury.
Aiden Palmer: Played in both Conference South semi-finals last season, when Chelmsford ultimately lost to Salisbury but he did feature in the Clarets’ first-ever play-off win in the first leg.
Osei Sankofa: Played alongside Daryl McMahon in Farnborough’s run to the Conference South Promotion Final in 2010-11, playing left-back against the Fleet and ending on the losing side.
Paul Lorraine: Was on the losing side in AFC Wimbledon’s 2007 Ryman League play-off semi-final at Bromley before memorably captaining the Fleet to play-off glory in 2010-11.
Anthony Acheampong: An unused sub in both Welling’s play-off semi-finals of 2012, he played the last 20 minutes in the final defeat at Dartford.
Dean Rance: Featured in all three play-off games for Dover Athletic last season. Booked in the final v Salisbury. Misses out this time round after his red card at Bromley.
Michael West: Memorably smashed six goals and a couple of assists in three play-off games as he spearheaded the Fleet’s play-off-winning 2010-11 campaign. Cruelly robbed of a chance this time round by injury.
Stacy Long: Played in all three of Stevenage’s successful League Two play-off matches in 2010-11, scoring in the semi-final first leg against Accrington and featuring in the final victory against Torquay at Old Trafford. Was not in the squad for Stevenage’s League One defeat to Sheffield United the following season, however.
Daryl McMahon: A real play-offs veteran, he was an unused substitute in all three of Cambridge’s play-off games in 2008-09, including their win over former club Stevenage in the semis, but he also sat out the defeat to Exeter at Wembley in the final. He then scored a late goal for Farnborough in the 2010-11 Promotion Final against the Fleet that almost saw his side spark a remarkable comeback. Two seasons later, he played in all three of Dover’s 2012-13 play-offs, scoring in the first leg against Eastleigh and in the semi-final penalty shootout. He was sent off five minutes from the end of normal time in the final against Salisbury.
Billy Bricknell: Was a substitute for Chelmsford in both legs against the Fleet in 2010-11. Then played all three play-off games for Dover from the bench in 2012-13, scoring against Eastleigh in the first leg, netting a penalty in the successful shootout, and then grabbing a late consolation in the final against Salisbury.
Ben May: Helped Scunthorpe to the 2009 League One play-offs but didn’t play in them and again in 2011 had the misfortune of injuring himself while scoring the goal that clinched Stevenage’s League Two play-off place, missing the subsequent three games. Played in all three of Dover’s 2012-13 play-offs, scoring in the first leg against Eastleigh and finishing the season as the Whites’ top scorer.
Anthony Cook: Played in both Chelmsford defeats in 2009-10 against Bath, then alongside Aiden Palmer he featured in both play-off semi-finals last season, when Chelmsford lost to Salisbury, while in between he sat out the games versus Fleet with injury. He scored a late penalty in the Clarets’ first-ever play-off win in the first leg last season.
Mitch Walker: Saved two penalties in the 2012-13 semi-final shootout against Eastleigh to ensure Dover’s progress to the final against Salisbury, but ended on the losing side.
Craig Stone: Played in all three successful play-off games for the Fleet in 2010-11, his second spell at Stonebridge Road.
Tom Wynter: Long-serving left back who played all three games in last season’s run to the final.
Michael Kamara: One-time Fleet trialist who scored a penalty in shootout against Eastleigh in last season’s semi-final and played in the final against Salisbury City.
Terrell Forbes: An unused sub on the losing side in the 2003 Division Two play-off final between QPR and Cardiff, he played in the first-leg for Rangers against Oldham. He then turned out for Yeovil in the 2007 League One semi-finals and eventual final defeat to Blackpool.
Ashley Carew: Played in both of Eastleigh’s eventually unsuccessful Conference South semi-finals against Hayes & Yeading before being a key part of the Fleet promotion squad of 2010-11. He only played in the first leg of the semi-final, however, as a suspension ruled him out of the second as well as the final.
Ricky Modeste: A play-off veteran, having been sent off in the first-leg of Chelmsford’s 2009-10 semi-final defeat. He then played both games for the Clarets when they lost to Fleet in 2010-11, scoring in the first leg. Went on to feature in all three play-offs with Dover last season and then scored twice at Sutton this season to seal Dover’s place in the final.
James Rogers: Played twice in Dover’s unsuccessful 2009-10 play-off semi-final campaign against Woking and then followed that up in 2011-12 with a win in Dartford’s victories over Basingstoke and then Welling in the Conference South Final. One of only two players (along with Acheampong) to have played in an all-Kent Promotion Final before.
Moses Ademola: A former teammate of Daryl McMahon’s at Eastleigh, he played for Woking against Dover in the 2009-10 play-off semi-finals, scoring in the first leg, but was on the losing side in the final as the Cards lost to Bath.
Jeff Goulding: Made two substitute appearances for Cheltenham when they beat Torquay in the 2012 League Two play-offs and started the final against Crewe at Wembley but finished on the losing side.