THE regular season is over and now, Warrington Rylands’ bid for promotion comes to the crunch.

They are two victories away from joining neighbours Warrington Town in the National League North next season, but any defeat from now onwards will put an end to what has been a turbulent but ultimately impressive season.

On Tuesday night, they travel to Marine in the Northern Premier League Premier Division play-off semi-finals, with a place in Monday’s promotion final at stake.

Here’s everything you need to know about the game…

How did Rylands get to this point?

It has certainly been an eventful season at Gorsey Lane, particularly since the turn of the year.

After a hugely impressive start saw them enter 2024 in second place behind runaway leaders Radcliffe, who eventually went on to seal the title, a number of setbacks have come their way.

Leading goalscorer Adama Sidibeh left for a shot at the professional game with Scottish Premiership side St Johnstone and not long afterwards, manager Michael Clegg was prised away by promotion rivals Macclesfield.

Their response to Clegg’s departure was impressive, with senior players Sam Wilson and Dean Furman leading them to six victories in their next nine games to seal their play-off spot.

That led to Wilson being appointed permanent manager, but he shockingly left the club just three days later.

After his appointment was confirmed, it emerged Wilson, who had been playing for Rylands since 2021 and others beforehand under the name Sam Egerton, had been convicted of rape and handed a five-year prison term in 2015. It has not been said officially that Wilson’s departure is linked to the case.

Furman retook the reins alongside fellow senior player Mark Duffy to guide the team through the final two regular-season games and the play-off campaign.

Despite all of that, Blues have had a remarkable campaign on the field, defying all predictions to finish fourth having lost just seven times all season – fewer than anybody else in the division.

What happens now?

If Rylands are to earn promotion, they look set to have to do it the hard way.

A fourth-place finish means they must play their semi-final away from home against a Marine side who boasted the league’s third-best record on home soil.

However, only champions Radcliffe picked up more points on the road during the regular season than Rylands, who were unbeaten away from home in the league until their final away match at Worksop Town earlier this month.

The other semi-final will also take place on Tuesday night, with Macclesfield playing host to Worksop Town.

Ties are one-legged affairs, with extra time and penalties in play to decide the winner if necessary.

What is Rylands’ record against Marine like?

Blues have plenty of reason for optimism heading to Crosby, given they are one of only seven visiting teams to have left the Marine Travel Arena with points this season.

The sides drew 1-1 there on Boxing Day, but their most recent meeting at Gorsey Lane ended in a 2-0 Rylands win on Easter Monday thanks to goals from Mo Touray and Djavan Pedro.

Rylands are actually unbeaten at Marine’s home ground, with two wins and this season’s draw from three visits.

Their overall record against Marine since first being promoted into the NPL is four wins, a draw and a solitary defeat in six meetings.

What if Rylands win?

The winners of Tuesday’s semi-finals will contest the Northern Premier League Premier Division play-off final, which will be on Bank Holiday Monday – May 6 – with a 3pm kick off.

The highest-ranked finalist will have home advantage so if Macclesfield progress, the final will be held at their Moss Rose home ground regardless of opposition.

If Worksop reach the final, the winner of the Marine-Rylands tie will play host.

The winner of the final will then join Radcliffe in the National League North next season.

Can I still buy tickets?

Tickets for the game are available from Marine’s official website – there is a dedicated option for away supporters.

However, a large crowd is expected at the Marine Travel Arena, where average home gates have been in excess of 1,200 this season, so anyone wishing to attend is urged to buy as soon as possible.

The match is an all-ticket affair and tickets must be purchased in advance.