Alex Johnson says today’s play-off final will be the biggest match of his career after a “crazy” end to the season for the striker.
Johnson is virtually a guaranteed starter after forcing his way into the reckoning with some hard-working performances, capped with goals against Chester and Guiseley.
The 21-year-old says he’s pleased to have taken his chance after some words of encouragement from his team-mates while he was out of the side.
He said: “It’ll definitely be the biggest game of my career. It’s a crazy game - a couple of months ago, who would have thought I’d be playing but luckily I was given my chance and I’ve taken it.
“I have been a bit of a fringe player but I was given my chance and I’ve taken it by scoring a couple of goals.
“It has been frustrating. When I first joined I was playing and involved every week but then I went through a patch where I wasn’t playing.
“It was hard but all the boys just kept saying ‘keep working hard’.
“All the lads were saying how well I was doing in training and to keep working hard.
“The gaffer also said ‘you need to get some game time but you’re a young lad and you’ll get your chance’.
“I can’t wait - it’s going to be a massive day for the players, the club and the fans and all the players are looking forward to it.
The former Clitheroe youngster has quickly become a fans’ favourite at the Shay with his all-action displays.
But Johnson says his work-rate has always been part of his playing style.
He said: “It’s been in my game the whole of my life. My mum always told me from a young age that it’s all about hard work and that if you work your socks off you’ll get your rewards.
“I’ve played as a striker all my life but I’m quite versatile and can play either side, but as long as I’m playing I’m not bothered where it is.”
Johnson describes his goal in the play-off semi-final, second-leg at Guiseley as the most important of his career, but identifies the league game at Nethermoor as crucial in helping to cement his first-team place.
He said: “I think the league game against Guiseley was big for me. We drew 1-1 and I came on as a sub and made a good impact.
“I thought I did well and that gave me something to take into the next couple of games.
“The semi-final goal against Guiseley was definitely the biggest moment of my career so far. Obviously it was great with all the fans going crazy behind the goal as well.
“It’s the first time I’ve been involved in a play-off so it’s all new to me but that was a really good feeling.
“It’d be an amazing feeling if we won but I don’t want to lift my feet above the ground too much.
“We need to give Brackley the respect they deserve. They’ve reached the final on merit and it’ll be a tough game.”