Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Weekend Boxset: Busy on the Jubilee line

It's a hectic weekend at Wembley with three finals - we have two of them here.

Seven great matches to take you from Friday to Sunday. It’s the Sound of Football Weekend Boxset.

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All times are UK


League Two play-off semi-final 2nd leg: Doncaster Rovers v Crewe Alexandra
20.00 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
The final table in League Two will tell you these sides’ seasons were separated in fifth and sixth position by just one goal difference. However, go back to just the first week of February and it was a much different story. Doncaster were sat 22nd in the table, a full 25 points behind Crewe who were then in the third automatic promotion place. Donnie went unbeaten in their last thirteen games, including a run of ten straight wins, and first entered the play-off positions in their penultimate game of the season. Crewe on the other hand have won just twice in that time, so it’s no surprise that Doncaster start this match with a 2-0 lead from the first leg. Rovers manager Grant McCann, in his second spell at the club, took over last summer. He previously took the club to the League One play-off final in his one season in charge, 2018/19, which they lost to Charlton. For stat fans, McCann also has the rare (possibly unique) achievement as a player of winning three play-off finals with three different clubs at three different stadiums: with Cheltenham Town at the Millennium Stadium, with Scunthorpe United at Wembley and with Peterborough United at Old Trafford. Having been regular play-off participants in the mid-90s, this is just Crewe’s second run in the post-season in the last 27 years. The other time was their 2012 success over Cheltenham - a game in which current manager Lee Bell very briefly played. GS


Scottish Premiership: Celtic v Rangers
12.30 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
When I covered the reverse fixture for the Boxset just five weeks ago, the title was in Rangers hands. After that dramatic 3-3 draw, Rangers trailed by a just point with a game in hand but Philippe Clement’s side couldn’t capitalise on their narrow advantage, losing their final “scheduled” game before the split, away to second-bottom Ross County. They then drew their game in hand, the controversially rescheduled match at Dundee that took place after everyone else had completed their pre-split seasons. Now Rangers trail by three points with an inferior goal difference, and a win here for Celtic will effectively secure the title for Brendan Rodgers’ side with two games to go. A Rangers win will see the season go down to the final day, next Saturday. The sides will meet again in two weeks’ time at Hampden Park for the Scottish Cup final - as for now, the double is still within reach of both teams. GS

FA Trophy Final: Gateshead v Solihull Moors
16.30 on TNT Sports 1 & Ultimate
Non-league football is brilliant. I watched my own side, Whyteleafe, win the league the other week, then last Sunday saw today’s finalists, Solihull Moors, lose out on penalties to Bromley in a truly epic National League play-off final. Only six days later, Solihull boss, Andy Whing, has to motivate his defeated players in the non-league’s equivalent of the FA Cup. In a recent prezza, he admitted this will be a difficult task after his side gave their all, only to be beaten in the cruel lottery that is penalties. Also on a return visit to the national stadium are ‘the Heed’, who lost here last year in the FA Trophy final to Halifax. Heed have also had recent heartbreak when they were excluded from the National League play-offs due lacking the necessary ten-year tenure on their council-owned Gateshead International Stadium. Indeed, even being in the position to qualify was impressive having lost manager, Mike Williamson, to MK Dons mid-season, but enjoyed a decent campaign under interim boss and former (dirty) Mags ‘keeper, Rob Elliot. The two league meetings this term produced eight goals and a win each. Add to that both Heed and Moors going into this one with a point to prove, and you have the makings of a cracking cup final - enjoy! JB

If you want to see more non-league Wembley action, the FA Vase final - for clubs in the ninth and tenth tier of English football - precedes this match. Great Wakering Rovers v Romford kicks off at 12.15 on TNT Sports 3.

League Two play-off semi-final 2nd leg: Milton Keynes Dons v Crawley Town
19.45 on Sky Sports Football & Ultra
It’s the battle of the new towns, or maybe just the battle of who gets to lose to Doncaster Rovers at Wembley next weekend. After the first leg there may not be much battle left with Crawley comfortably winning 3-0, leaving MK Dons looking at a sixth unsuccessful play-off campaign; they’ve not once reached a final. MK’s preparations for the first leg weren’t helped by the match being postponed on Sunday due to Crawley’s Broadfield Stadium pitch being waterlogged. Brighton’s women had played their final WSL home game of the season on the surface 24 hours earlier but overnight rain left the pitch unplayable. Having to reschedule the game to Tuesday has also meant having to move this fixture from it’s original Thursday night kick-off to Saturday evening. A first visit to Wembley is within reach of Crawley Town in this their first attempt at the play-offs in their 13 seasons as an EFL club. GS


Championship play-off semi-final 1st leg: Norwich City v Leeds United
12.00 on Sky Sports Football, Main Event & Ultra
Norwich City will be happy to have made it this far, while Leeds will be rueing the missed opportunities to have gone up automatically. The Yorkshire side’s final day loss to Southampton, who they may not have seen the last of, ultimately, made little difference as Ipswich guaranteed second with a home win against Huddersfield. However, it’s the form going into the final knockings of the season which cost them; the Saints loss was their fourth in six games and you don’t need that kind of momentum going into the play-offs. The hosts, too, lost on the final day. A 1-0 at Brum didn’t even keep the home side up, but the Canaries had put a nice little run together prior to this defeat, which was enough to get them sixth. David Wagner’s charges have failed to beat Leeds in both league fixtures this season with the game at Carrow Road back in October finishing 3-2. Crysencio Summerville scored a double in the last quarter of an hour to win that one for Leeds, a brace that added to the nineteen he’s bagged this term. Home win for me. JB

The other Championship play-off semi-final 1st leg, West Bromwich Albion v Southampton, follows this game kicking off at 14.15 on Sky Sports Football.

Women’s FA Cup Final: Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United
14.30 on BBC One & iPlayer
A new name will be added on to the Cup, as one of these relatively young clubs will lift their first major trophy. Both sides were promoted to the top flight in English women’s football in 2019 - less than a year after the establishment of Manchester United’s side. Tottenham can trace their history back further but only turned professional two years earlier. Both clubs are here having knocked out more fancied opposition in the closing rounds, Spurs getting the better of WSL leaders Manchester City on penalties in their quarter-final, while United beat the winners of the last three finals, Chelsea. Having last season finished second in the WSL and reached the Cup final, for Marc Skinner’s United side have had a disappointing campaign, dropping to fifth place in the WSL last weekend with defeat to Liverpool. Losing Alessia Russo to Arsenal last summer was a set-back and her replacement Geyse, who impressed at the World Cup for Brazil, has yet to reach the potentialshe undoubtedly has. Thankfully they have experienced players like Nikita Parris and Rachel Williams for goals, the latter scoring four in four in the Cup, seeing her season total hit ten for the first time since she was playing for Notts County in 2015. What will seem like a new signing for United this summer is the return of the newest Lioness, Grace Clinton. The 21 year old midfielder has had an outstanding season on loan at Tottenham, but is ineligible to play against her parent club in this final - a daft English rule that could make all the difference between these closely matched sides. GS

Premier League: Manchester United v Arsenal
16.30 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
There was no place to hide for Erik ten Hag and his injury ravaged Manchester United team after Monday’s 4-0 defeat at Crystal Palace. Objectively the better team won. However, this is a fixture that almost never ends with that scoreline. It’s just not done. Palace were excellent but United were dire. I was personally shocked to see a player of Casemiro’s pedigree, albeit out of position, getting mugged off by Daniel Munoz for Palace’s third goal. I can imagine that ten Hag sitting at home, the following evening, mulling over his options for the future, perhaps while watching Jadon Sancho celebrate with the Borussia Dortmund fans. If anything sums up the Dutchman’s folly it is how he failed to manage the precocious Englishman. But enough ten Hag fagging, what about Arsenal? It is looking like that 2-0 defeat to Villa was the deal breaker for the Gunners in terms of the title race. Mikel Areta knows that the task of overcoming a United side with both eyes on the FA Cup Final and an Everton team playing in a pair of flip-flops that they found in a dumpster outside their nearest Lidl, is relatively straightforward. But the chances of Manchester City failing to close out their remaining three games and claiming the title on the final day are slim. What the Arse mustn’t do, however, is make it easy for Pep Guardiola’s team and Arteta should be wary of a United response after the bloodbath at the Palace. TD

Bonus viewing: Flip over to Sky Sports Football immediately after this game for Bochum v Bayer Leverkusen to see if Xabi Alonso’s side can make it 50 games unbeaten at the place where they last tasted defeat, 350 days ago.

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Graham, Terry and Jan

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