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Play-off appeal fails and Cup supporting act is a double-whammy

Malcolm Howe




No play-offs at Bulpit Lane - official

HUNGERFORD TOWN have been handed a double hammer blow after the FA today rejected their appeal against being barred from the Vanarama National League South play-offs.

And to add insult to the injury, Crusaders have also been ordered to play a supporting role in what should be Maidenhead United’s private promotion party by arranging the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup final for United’s York Road ground on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon.

The double-whammy was confirmed when the FA’s Independent Appeals Panel cast aside all three appeals from Hungerford, Poole Town and Darlington, clearing the way for lower-placed clubs to contest the promotion knock-out.

However, Wealdstone will not be one of those clubs after they were also rejected for failing to have adequate seats installed in time and that could leave eighth placed Hampton and Richmond Borough to vie for a place in the league’s top flight.

Manager Bobby Wilkibnson confessed to being “bitterly disappointed” at the decision, which hed said he expected after the club had been notified on Tuesday night about the Berks and Bucks FA’s decision to make them go to Maidenhead on Monday.

“I think they knew we would be free to play on Monday,” he said. “Why else would they only tell us on Tuesday night?

“I knew when we got that that our chances of winning the appeal were 95 per cent against.”

Maidenhead will stage the tie on the basis that they are the highest-placed club, although the competition rules state that the final should be played at a neutral venue.

Maidenhead have one remaining league game in which to seal the Vanarama National League South title, away to bottom side Margate on Saturday. The upset would be if Margate won and so do Ebbsfleet, who would then snatch the automatic promotion spot - leaving Maidenhead to face whichever club replaces Poole or Hungerford in the play-offs on Wednesday.

“But Maidenhead will win at Margate,” said Wilkinson. “And I don’t see why we should go to somebody else’s promotion party on Monday.

“They will have two or three thousand there to see them get the league trophy and it will be nothing to do with us, even if we win the Berks and Bucks.

“It’s supposed to be at a neutral ground, so what’s wrong with Slough, Newbury or Thatcham?

“I’ll do what the club tells me, but I think we should stand up for ourselves for once and not play the game just to be spectators at someone else’s party.

“We should just pay the £750 fine and not go.”

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