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Football: Wrexham dreaming of Hollywood finish

The National League play-offs get under way next week, with six teams still in the hunt to join Stockport County in earning promotion to the Football League.

Stockport ended an 11-year stay in non-league football by clinching the National League title on the final day of the regular season, edging out Ryan Reynolds, Rob McElhenney and co at Wrexham.

The Hollywood story at Wrexham has dominated the headlines in the National League this season and they head into the play-offs as the team to beat and can be backed at 10/11 to go up.

However, Solihull Moors, Notts County, Grimsby, Halifax and Chesterfield will have their eyes set on scuppering those hopes, with all six teams dreaming of a place in the Football League for the 2022/23 season.

Star quality could see Robins through

There has been a buzz around Wrexham ever since the takeover of the club by Hollywood actors Reynolds and McElhenney was confirmed last year.

The new owners made no secret of their desire to return the Red Dragons to the Football League for the first time since 2008 and they have certainly backed boss Phil Parkinson in the transfer market.

Striker Paull Mullin, who fired Cambridge United to promotion from League Two last season, joined in the summer, alongside other established Football League stars such as Ben Tozer and Aaron Hayden.

Wrexham further strengthened in January, most notably the club-record signing of Ollie Palmer from AFC Wimbledon, who moved to the Racecourse Ground for a reported £300,000.

However, despite a star-studded team on and off the pitch, Wrexham fell short in their pursuit of automatic promotion, although by finishing second they will go straight into the play-off semi-finals and will have home advantage for that one-off tie.

There could be double delight for Wrexham before the season is out, as they are also through to the FA Trophy final, with a Wembley date against Bromley scheduled for this Sunday.

Wrexham have won the FA Trophy before, lifting the cup in 2013, and they are priced at 2/5 to repeat that trick this weekend, while Bromley are 7/4.

In-form Solihull the team to beat

Solihull Moors are the only team in the play-offs who have never previously played in the Football League, but the form guide suggests the Moors could well be the team to beat.

Neal Ardley's men finished third in the standings, so like Wrexham will go straight into the play-off semi-finals, and they do so off the back of winning five matches on the spin and losing just once in 13.

No team picked up more points than Solihull from the final 10 matches of the regular season and they can be backed at 3/1 to make it to the fourth tier of English football for the first time.

Halifax writing new history

It can be argued that like Solihull, Halifax have never played in the Football League, with the current club having been formed in 2008 after its predecessor Halifax Town A.F.C went into administration.

However, Halifax Town A.F.C did spend 76 years in the Football League across two different spells, so as the phoenix club the current team may well feel they share that history.

Halifax finished fourth during the regular season and are priced at 10/1 to go up, but first they must get past Chesterfield in the play-off quarter-finals, with the two teams set to meet at The Shay on 24th May.

After looking like automatic promotion hopefuls earlier in the season, Chesterfield rather limped into the play-offs, winning just two of their final 10 matches as they finished seventh, 10 points behind Halifax.

Chesterfield fell out of the Football League in 2018 and, after losing in last season's play-offs, they will be desperate to earn promotion at odds of 14/1.

Duo dreaming of Football League return

Notts County boast an illustrious history, as they are the oldest professional football club in the world, were founder members of the Football League and have previously won the FA Cup, albeit back in 1894.

However, this is the third season the Magpies have spent in the National League and, after failing in the play-offs in both 2020 and 2021, they will be hoping it is third-time lucky under Ian Burchnall this year.

After finishing fifth during the regular season, County will have home advantage for their quarter-final tie with a Grimsby Town team looking to bounce back to the Football League at the first time of asking.

Just one place separated these two teams in the standings, with both meetings between the two during the regular season ending in an away win - a pattern Grimsby will be hoping continues on 23rd May.

County are priced at 8/1 to go on and secure promotion with the Mariners 12/1, although the problem for both teams is the winner of this tie will go on to face Wrexham in the semi-finals.

The semi-final ties will be played on the weekend of 28th-29th May, with the final scheduled to take place at West Ham's London Stadium on 5th June.

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