STEVENAGE v SHEFFIELD UNITED
The first installment of this season's League 1 Play-Offs comes from the Lamex Stadium on Friday night where Stevenage host Sheffield United.
The Blades had looked set for a place in the top two, and automatic promotion to the Championship, but were pipped by their fierce rivals Sheffield Wednesday after drawing two and losing one of their final three matches.
Stevenage, meanwhile, squeezed into the Play-Off places with a better goal difference than Notts County, who finished level on 73 points.
In terms of history, the two sides couldn't be more different, but it's all to play for in the lottery of the Play-Offs. Sheffield United are hoping to go back to the division they dropped out of last term, whilst Stevenage, who have won four and drew two of their last six, are in search of their third successive promotion, which would see them reach the second tier of English football for the first time in their history.
Stevenage manager Gary Smith, who replaced the departing Graham Westley in January, told The Comet: "It's a fantastic achievement. Everybody at this point can be really proud of where we're at, and what sort of season we've had.
The former Colorado Rapids manager is relishing the chance in the Play-Offs and believes his side has what it takes to get to the final under the arch at Wembley.
"The players and the coaching staff will be pretty disappointed if it [promotion] doesn't occur. We know it will be really difficult. These moments don't come around all the time. You can't look into a crystal ball and see this occurring every year, so while we're here we want to take full advantage of it," he added.
Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson is hoping his side will put in a good performance, despite being away from home.
He told Blades Player: "You have to be positive and have a threat playing away from home, which we have all season. We're not going to sit back and wait for them to pummel us and eventually concede. We've got to go there with the belief that we can win the game."
United have a number of players out including striker James Beattie, who saw red last time out against Exeter City, but Wilson hopes Richard Cresswell, who scored the last time the Blades met Stevenage, will be fit for the first leg.
"With the likes of Richard Cresswell, we've got very committed lads, who put their bodies on the line to play. We've got to make sure, from our point of view, that they are fit enough to compete against Stevenage, who are very committed," Wilson added.
The match, which kicks off at 7.45pm, is live on Sky Sports.
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MILTON KEYNES DONS v HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
The other semi-final kicks off on Saturday at stadiummk where Milton Keynes Dons host Huddersfield Town.
The two sides finished side-by-side in the table but Huddersfield's victory on the final day against Yeovil Town, coupled with the Dons' last-day defeat to Walsall, moved the Terriers up to fourth and gives them the advantage of playing in front of a home crowd in the all-important second leg.
Both clubs are certainly familiar with the Play-Offs with at least one of the sides taking part in the end-of-season festivities over the last four years. Milton Keynes lost at the semi-final stage in 2009 and 2011 whilst Huddersfield were knocked out in the 2010 semi-final and were defeated in last season's final.
They have both bounced back from the heartache to finish in the top six again, but at least one of them will be on the end of more disappointment this time around.
Karl Robinson's men are the form side coming into the first leg having picked up four victories in five matches, prior to their defeat to Walsall.
"We've got where we want to be, now we turn our focus to the mini season, which is over the next 10 days. We're really looking forward to it, there's an edge, there's an air of excitement. There's no fear at all in any of them [the players], we're in good spirits," Robinson told Dons Player.
"Last year I looked at the squad and it was extremely young. This year what we have done in the recruitment department, we've been able to recruit winners and people who are strong mentally," he added.
Huddersfield are in a sticky patch of form, with just two wins from their previous six, but captain Peter Clarke knows the key to success in the Play-Offs is simple.
"The only certain thing is that to win the Play-Offs, you have to beat two of the other three sides involved, and that's our aim," he told The Huddersfield Daily Examiner.
"You're talking about getting through two games to reach a one-off final at Wembley which a huge prize at stake. To me, it's about having character, having nerve and having that little bit of luck which can swing a match."
Huddersfield striker Jordan Rhodes, who is the league's top goal scorer with 38 goals so far this term, could return to the starting line-up after sitting on the bench for the last two matches, that decision lies with boss Simon Grayson, though, who has who has tasted promotion from League 1 with both Blackpool and Leeds United.
The match kicks off at 12.30pm and is live on Sky Sports.
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