New Mills joint-boss says pressure is all on hosts Isle of Man ahead of play-off final

Joint-manager Dave Birch says the pressure will all be on Isle of Man FC when his New Mills side fly west for the NWCFL Division One South play-off final on Saturday evening.

By Mark Duffy
Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 2:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 4:58 pm

More than 3,000 fans are expected to attend the game as both clubs seek promotion following semi-final wins last weekend.

And Birch says the unique nature of the game for a club at New Mills’ level is something that should be relished.

He said: “We’re a club with an average gate of around 150-200 that are essentially flying abroad to play in a final in front of ten times that many people and in a game that’s being broadcast live on TV. It’ll be a great occasion.

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Dave Birch on the touchline during Saturday's semi-final. Photo: Jason Chadwick.

"We certainly go there as underdogs and the pressure is all on Isle of Man – they’re an ambitious club and are expected to win in front of a big crowd. But our lads should relish the opportunity as they won’t get many like this in their careers.”

Birch, who will fly out with the rest of the team on Saturday morning for the game which kicks off at 6.30pm, says that whilst it’s been a momentous season for the Millers in finishing in the top three, it will only be deemed a successful one for he and fellow boss Mike Norton if promotion is sealed.

He said: “That’s our mentality. We’ve done well since we came here in taking a side that were bottom of the league and in our first full season reaching a play-off final, but our aim at the start of the season was promotion and that’s what we want.”

An injury-time strike by Joe Bevan sparked jubilant scenes at Church Lane as the Millers progressed past Abbey Hey in the semi-final.

The decisive moment came when Bevan intercepted an under-hit back pass 20 yards from goal, raced clear and fired home to send his side through to the final.

Birch said: “It was a harsh way for Abbey Hey to lose so I’ve sympathy with them but credit to Joe for being alert enough to nip in and score the goal.

"I only really enjoyed the game after it finished, as it was a tense affair that was always likely to be decided by one goal, but it was great to get over the line.”

Saturday’s game will be broadcast live in New Mills’ clubhouse, kick-off 6.30pm.