IF 2016 has taught Sedgley Tigers coach Geoff Roberts anything it is winning the title is the only sure-fire way to guarantee promotion from National Two North.

It is a case of once bitten twice shy for the Park Lane boss after watching his side suffer a stinging defeat at Old Albanians in the National Two play-off in May.

The game was played at their opponents' Woollam Fields base after their superior record in National Two South earned them home advantage in the one-off match between the two division's second-placed sides.

With Tigers currently third in National Two North, four points behind second-placed Sale FC and 13 behind leaders Caldy, Roberts would clearly take a play-off spot if it was offered to him now.

But he believes the odds are stacked against the northern clubs when it comes to the end-of-season lottery, meaning all Sedgley's efforts in the second half of the season will be engineered towards going for the title.

"Winning the league is the only way to be sure of anything and that is what we will be trying to do until it is mathematically impossible," said Roberts.

"The relative strengths of the two divisions means the southern sides will almost always have home advantage in the play-offs.

"In Division Two North there is competition right the way down the league.

"Anyone can beat anyone on their day, whereas the southern division is not quite as competitive so there is less chance that they will drop points during the season.

"It means the play-off is skewed in their favour as home advantage makes a massive difference.

"We found that when we won a play-off with home advantage a few years back, when we ended up playing a side from Cornwall.

"You don't just get a bumper gate of home fans in your corner, you find people from other local clubs come to root for you as well.

"So when you are away you are playing against a fervent local support, and also have to contend with the travelling and strange surroundings, while the home team are in their comfort zone.

"In my mind it is not fair.

"Either the play-off final should be played at a neutral ground or it should be decided over two legs. That's what they do in the Championship, so if it is good enough for the teams looking to break into the Premiership then it is good enough for us.

"But the rules are not about to change for this season so we just have to try to protect ourselves by winning the title."

If Sedgley are to rein in leaders Caldy they have just 14 games to claw back 13 points, but with a trip to the table-toppers looming on the final day of the season, there is always hope of a grand finale.

"Clearly we are relying on Sale and Caldy slipping up, but I think everything is still to play for," added Roberts.

"It's about keeping your squad fit at this stage and seeing where that takes you."