Cinderford Town manager Paul Michael admits that his side are going into their Southern League play-off tie with local rivals Cirencester Town on Wednesday night as the underdogs.
Despite the fact Cinderford are unbeaten against the Centurious, Michael has told Severn Sport that Charlie Griffin’s men are the ones to beat.
“I think Cirencester are everyone’s favourites to be honest. When you speak to managers around the league they are always complimentary, they’ve finished second, scored a ridiculous amount of goals and are used to playing on their fast track on the artificial pitch where they play at home.
They’re stacked with quality players and we know what a tough test we have ahead.” Michael added.
A late Ben Watkins winner back in August was enough to see the Foresters win the league meeting between the two sides at the Corinium Stadium, but a slow first half of the season left Cinderford’s play-off hopes in tatters.
But an unbeaten run of 15 games saw them secure a play-off spot on the final day of the season, with a 0-0 draw against Winchester City last weekend and Michael has praised his squad for their strong second half of the season.
“I’m delighted that we’ve made the play-offs it’s testament to all the hard work the players have put in, they’ve been awesome, we were a little inconsistent in the first half of the season but to go 15 games unbeaten at the business end of the season in such a competitive league is an amazing achievement.
Especially when you compare the higher points tally it’s taken this season compared to last season where the points per game ratio of Salisbury to go up automatically and Supermarine who won the play-offs wasn’t that great.” Michael said.
“The whole squad have played their part, they’ve been top class.”
Wednesday night’s all Gloucestershire play-off fixture is the climax to a Southern League season that saw 3 sides occupying top 10 positions for the majority of the season – with Evesham United finishing the season just outside the play-offs.
Michael told Severn Sport that this season has been an exciting season for local football in the west and noted the achievements of Gloucester City, Brimscombe & Thrupp and Bishops Cleeve in particular.
“It goes to show there’s a lot of quality players in the area, I’d go further than to say about the three teams that have competed near the top at our level – that undoubtedly have top drawer players, but Gloucester City’s success in staying where they are this season, Brimscombe and Cleeve competing at the top of the level below – I would suggest there’s enough quality players in the area for a number of the teams to go up a level from current standings.”
Cirencester Town vs Cinderford Town takes place on Wednesday 1st May at the Corinium Stadium; kick off 19:45 and will be live on Severn Sport with full radio commentary available – more information will follow.