Bishop, absent from the touchline as he served a one match touchline ban, oversaw proceedings from the sanctuary of The Ping Stand. His side seeing no fewer than five changes from the side that secured their play-off berth last time out at Radcliffe. Isaac Rice was fit to partner Hayden Cann at the centre of defence, while Joseph West and Prosper Keto were restored to the full back positions. Club captain Andrew Wright took over in central midfield from youngster Bailey Conway, while Harry Lewis & Luther Munakandafa started on the flanks, in place of Fraser Preston and Tyrell Sellars-Fleming.

The changes served to see a nervy start to proceedings, in front of a bumper season high gate of 1,873. The attendance boosted with a healthy contingent from Manchester, to bring the curtain down on the regulation league campaign. And Max Cane profited from the persistence of Sandro DaCosta, to put the visitors in front on eight minutes. Da Costa chasing a long ball over the top. Matt Yates sweeping, failed to make a clean contact, his clearance ricocheting off the FCUM attacker and into the path of the centre forward. Despite the best efforts of the retreating Yates, the ‘keeper was unable to recover satisfactorily. And the visitors had the early advantage.

And that early goal gave the Rebels the confidence to go again – as Michael Donohue looked to play in Cane again, but Yates was quickly off his line to smother the danger.

Following a foul on Andrew Wright, and a yellow card for the offending Donohue, Harry Lewis whipped in a great free-kick that found Clayton Donaldson, but his first touch deserted him, as he was found in space in the FC United penalty area. Donaldson would soon have his opportunity though. When the visitors only partially cleared a Lewis corner, Wright found Liam Waldock on the edge of the box – the midfielder doing well to regain his balance, before cutting inside and drawing the clumsy challenge of Ethen Vaughan.

Donaldson stepping up to fire home league goal 22 of the campaign, and put the Blues back on terms. The goal sparked something in the game. Perhaps a little frustration crept into the visitors.. and following persistence from Munakandafa, the ball fell kindly for the Don.. but his thumping first time outside of the right-foot strike struck the face of the crossbar – rebounding back into play.

Just a minute later and Lewis broke free, scampering into the box, with the angle against him, he tested Dan Lavercombe, but the ‘keeper was equal to the effort, a strong block diverting the ball behind for a corner as the Holy Blues looked to crank up the pressure. Neat interplay between Donaldson and the overlapping full back saw West deliver a dangerous ball in towards the near post. The scuffed clearance only found its’ way to Harry Lewis. Seeing his name up in lights, Lewis shifted the ball – and let fly – only to see his effort rising over the top of Lavercombe’s crossbar.

And just before the whistle, Wright found Donaldson. His clever reverse ball sent Lewis into the box. His squared centre found Munakandafa with his back to goal. Selflessly, the Notts County youngster teed up Durose on the edge of the box. A placed finish from Trinity’s number eight deflecting kindly into the gloves of Lavercombe, and the sides going in at the break, level.

Half time: Gainsborough Trinity 1 FC United of Manchester 1

Early in the second half. Trinity withdrew Donaldson and Waldock in quick succession. Again, with one eye on Tuesday night, the thought process was abundantly clear Following the changes, there seemed to be a change in urgency, Munakandafa looking to use his blistering pace in behind. On one occasion, it saw him run in behind, check back for Fraser Preston to exchange passes with Wright. Preston’s effort comfortable for Lavercombe to collect.

Adam Dodd’s header away found Keane Barugin on the left, his progressive run in field saw him work Yates, low down at his near post, Michael Donohue then headed home, to restore the visitors lead, when a well worked corner routine from Barugin & Potts enabled the box to box midfielder the opportunity to arrive unmarked to power his header back across Yates.

Hornshaw on for Keto with just under half an hour to play, offered an outlet down the right. And as he looked to stretch the full width of the Gainsborough attack, Preston looked for space as he ran across the face of the 18 yard box, before flashing a left footed effort narrowly wide of the far post.

Further chances, at either end, remained at a premium in the closing stages. Neither side troubling the scoreboard any further. And despite defeat on the final day, our play-off place already secured. It’s an opportunity for the Holy Blues to reflect on a successful season, demonstrating great progression. And coupled with the season extension – the elusive first promotion in 150 years – is still on the cards. We can dare to dream!...

The Teams

Gainsborough Trinity

Matt Yates, Prosper Keto (George Hornshaw 66) Joseph West, Andrew Wright, Hayden Cann, Isaac Rice, Luther Munakandafa, Curtis Durose, Clayton Donaldson (Fraser Preston 49) Liam Waldock (Mo Gashi 48) Harry Lewis

Subs not used: Bailey Conway & Josh Fraiwald

Gainsborough goal: Clayton Donaldson 33 (pen)

FC United of Manchester

Dan Lavercombe (Dimeji Wilan 89) Ethen Vaughan, Guy Hall, Michael Donohue, Adam Dodd, Curtis Jones, Sandro Da Costa (Faisu Sangare 57) Michael Potts, Max Cane, Keane Barugh, Keegan Hartley (Dontai Gabbidon 71)

Subs not used: James Deadman & Jan Palinkas

FCUM goals: Max Cane 8 & Michael Donohue 53

FCUM booking: Michael Donohue

Referee: Mr D Woolley

Match Report written by Rob Hughes (@AATM_Media)

Photos by Kevin Stevens Photograher