Brackley Town face up to the play-offs
The Saints’ title hopes were ended over the bank holiday weekend as a surprise 1-0 home defeat to Blyth Spartans on Saturday was followed by a 2-2 draw at Hereford on Monday after an own-goal and Jaanai Gordon had put Brackley into a 2-0 lead.
It meant that Gateshead’s 2-2 draw at Chorley was enough to see them crowned champions.
Saints boss Kevin Wilkin paid tribute to the Tynesiders after a fine battle that saw the top two going toe-to-toe for a number of weeks before Gateshead just pulled away.
“We have had a really solid season and I don’t think there is much more we could have squeezed out of the players,” Wilkin said.
“We find ourselves in the play-offs and hopefully we can be successful in them.
“It’s small margins but Gateshead are a terrific side and maybe the slight difference is that they are full-time so they are able to rest at the right times whereas we don’t have that luxury.
“You have to give them great credit. They have been tremendously consistent and they are there for a reason so fair play to them.”
By finishing as runners-up, Brackley are already guaranteed to be in the play-off semi-finals and they are currently scheduled to take on either Chorley or York City at St James Park on Saturday, May 14.
Before then, however, there is the final game of the regular season this weekend as the Saints entertain Chester.
And Wilkin is set to offer some members of his squad a chance to shine.
“We have another league game to play but obviously there is already half an eye on the play-offs,” he added.
“We have to prepare and try to make sure everybody is fit and available for that game.
“There were a couple who got a chance at Hereford and, in some ways, it is nice to be able to do that and give some an opportunity.
“But the consistency the boys have shown means it will take a fantastic show from any player to be forcing their way in now. It may the case that someone will get that chance to stake a claim this weekend.”