Mark Burke has spoken of his pride at Hitchin Town reaching the Southern Premier Division play-off final.

The Canaries did so on Wednesday evening when they defeated in-form Merthyr Town 4-1 on penalties after the game had ended 1-1.

Hitchin goalkeeper Michael Johnson made some fantastic stops throughout the 90 minutes and extra-time before pulling off two penalty saves in the shoot-out as Hitchin booked their place in the final away to Leamington on Monday (3pm).

And they did so after a long journey - the coach didn’t get back to Top Field until nearly 4am the following morning - and without the services of key player Kane Smith.

Speaking about his side’s performance, Burke told the club’s website: “I was very proud of the performance of all the players who put their bodies on the line to ensure we reached the play-off final.

“We possibly rode our luck at times and there were a couple of phenomenal saves to keep us in the game. The whole goal seemed to shake when their free-kick hit the bar.

“But we stuck to our task and in the end it came down to our clinical penalties. Merthyr were a very good side and are sure to be challenging next season. Their management team acted with great dignity after the game which I appreciated.”

Speaking about this Monday’s final, which sees the Canaries, who finished fourth in the table, come up against a Leamington team that finished second, Hitchin’s boss added: “The Leamington play-off final will see us conclude a very enjoyable season.

“It would be brilliant if we could finish off with a victory and promotion to the National League but it will be a very difficult task.

“Leamington are a very experienced side with a very successful manager. Once again we will adopt our favoured position as underdogs and we will look to build on our last two visits to Leamington that both ended in victory.

“It would be great to see a large Hitchin following and I am sure our supporters will come out in numbers.

“Your support can really help us on Monday and all the team want to reward you for your great support through the season.”