Bootle manager Mick McGraa issues Hednesford warning as playoff hopes hang in the balance

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Bootle manager Mick McGraa has warned that playoffs are far from secured as he talked up Hednesford Town’s qualities.

The Bucks returned to winning ways, keeping their top five hopes ignites in the process, with an emphatic triumph over Hanley Town.

Second-half goals from Richie Sutton and Ben Hodkinson added to the scoreline after Joe Woolley’s opener inside 20 minutes. 

The win takes the playoff race until the final game of the season with rivals City of Liverpool facing Witton Albion to book their place in the top five. As it stands, all three clubs remain on 52 points.

“We weren’t happy about getting beat on Wednesday night, it was a great reaction. It was thoroughly deserved but Hanley are tricky, we scored at good times and were really good,” McGraa told Off The Park. 

“The reaction from the lads (was the most pleasing), nothing changed after Wednesday, we still needed to go and win the last two games, the lads knew they had to go and do a job, scoring three really good goals.”

Hednesford were relegated after last weekend’s 3-1 defeat away at Clitheroe. However, there is a suggestion thst they could still be handed a reprieve by the Football Association, with the restructuring of the pyramid, should they stay within the realms of points per game.

With the added motivation, the Bootle boss isn’t expecting an easy trip to the West Midlands. 

He continued: “They can get a reprieve on Points Per Game, they need to get enough points to stay up. We’ve told the lads that they’re still fighting, I think they need a point so it’s going to be tough.

“If we play as we did on Saturday, I don’t see it being a problem but they beat us at home so we know what threats they have. Most teams are good at home but it suits us at home, when teams come onto us, we can hurt them with the quality we’ve got.”

With the permutations and drama in store for Saturday’s curtain closer, McGraa joked that phones will be banned in their dugout but admitted that he’d rather be in their position than the make-or-break fixture at the VanEupen Arena where the Purps take on Jon Macken’s side.

“We’ll have to ban phones out of the dugout on Saturday because we have to focus on ourselves, our fans will let us know what’s going on,” he said. “It has been in our hands for four or five weeks since we went on this unbelievable run – where we lost two in 16 – we know what we have needed to do, get to a certain number of points, we’re a point away from that, it’s down to us. 

“It’s football, anything can happen but I’d rather be in our position than City of Liverpool and Witton. 

“When we took over, we wasn’t in a great position, the squad was decimated within two weeks and we had to build. The lads have been brilliant, as have the staff and the fans, once you get the fans backing you and the players buying into it, you can be successful. 

“We’ve give the fans something to believe, if we can get into the playoffs that’s the icing on the cake but when you’re in there form goes out of the window.“

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