Grimsby Town have the chance to seal an immediate return to the English Football League on Sunday, as the Mariners prepare to take on Solihull Moors in the National League play-off final.
Grimsby were relegated from League Two last season and sent down into non-league football after a run of five seasons in the EFL. The Mariners stuck with manager Paul Hurst despite relegation and he is just one game away from repaying that faith.
The North East Lincolnshire side made it into the play-off places of the National League in the regular season, finishing in sixth place, which meant big challenges would be ahead against opposition expected to earn promotion over Grimsby.
The play-offs began with an eliminator for Grimsby, away at Notts County. The Mariners won 2-1 on May 23 in truly dramatic fashion, with a very late injury time equaliser by Gavan Holohan and then a 119th minute extra time winner courtesy of Emmanuel Dieseruvwe.
Five days later and Grimsby were in the semi-finals, again away from home, against early season promotion favourites Wrexham – of course owned by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
What followed was one of the greatest games of football the National League as ever seen, as Grimsby continued to fight back and eventually won 5-4 in dramatic style.
It would be safe to say Grimsby went into both games as underdogs, given their league position, and the same might be said for Sunday’s opposition Solihull Moors, who came fourth in the National League this season.
Moors defeated Chesterfield 3-1 in their play-off to reach the final, and the obvious danger men for Grimsby to look out for are forward Andy Dallas and midfielder Joe Sbarra. The duo have 37 goals between them this campaign.
Sunday’s final venue will not be the usual day out at Wembley, but instead the London Stadium, home to West Ham United and formerly the Olympic Stadium for the Games in 2012.
The stipulations are simple: win and you will be playing in the EFL next season, though another season at non-league level awaits the loser. The stakes are high, and the time for talking is over, it’s winner take all in London on Sunday.