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Saturday, 19 January, 2019

National League promotion final may be a rollercoaster ride

Both teams can find the net

Andy Cook of Tranmere Rovers claps his teammates
1 of 1

National League promotion final
BT Sport 1, 3pm Saturday

This season's four National League playoff matches has produced 16 goals - four of them in extra-time - and the excitement could continue in the Wembley final between Boreham Wood and Tranmere.

In tense playoff matches it is easy for teams to go into their shells but these teams have gone for broke.

Rovers boss Micky Mellon went with an attacking 4-4-2 formation for his team's semi-final at home to Ebbsfleet and was rewarded when Tranmere triumphed 4-2 after extra-time.

Wood boss Luke Garrard has also opted for offensive selections and it has paid dividends with the Hertfordshire side winning 2-1 at home to Fylde and 3-2 at Sutton.

Boreham Wood have scored and conceded in each of their last five games and Garrard is talking about showing no fear and taking the match to Tranmere.

Mastering the nerves could be key for the minnows, who are about to play the biggest match in their history.

Garrard has tried to normalise the occasion as much as possible by opting against an overnight hotel stay and says they are preparing as they would do for a normal league game.

How his players react could be key because, in terms of talent, Wood are fairly well-matched to their opponents.

Just seven points separated second-placed Tranmere from fourth-placed Wood at the end of the season and the matches between them favoured Garrard's side, who drew 2-2 in Birkenhead and won 2-1 at Meadow Park.

Tranmere have the edge in terms of experience, having reached the final last year, when they lost 3-1 to Forest Green.

Ten of the 13 Tranmere players who took part that day are part of the squad this weekend and Mellon says the experience can be an advantage to his team.

The markets warmly favour Tranmere, who are a best-priced 4-9 to go up.

Much could depend on how Wood cope with the Tranmere front two of Andy Cook and James Norwood, who have notched 26 and 20 National League goals this season.

However, the Wood way is to fight fire with fire and they will be looking to their star forward, 20-goal striker Bruno Andrade, to make the difference.

It promises to be a rollercoaster ride and the chances of a high-scoring outcome are strong enough to justify backing both teams to score at a shade of odds-on.

Both teams to score
1pt 10-11 Hills

National League standings

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Team news
Boreham Wood
Kane Smith, Jamie Turley and Morgan Ferrier missed the semi-final against Sutton due to injuries. Wood manager Luke Garrard is confident that two of the three will be available but is not saying who.

Adam Buxton (stomach) returned to the team for the semi-final at home to Ebbsfleet and hopes to continue. Connor Jennings (illness) is available after missing the last two games.

Key stat
Both teams have scored in each of the last four fifth-tier playoff finals.

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Both teams have scored in each of the last four fifth-tier playoff finals
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