EDDIE Odhiambo says North Leigh’s players deserve to savour the feeling of their historic promotion.

Two stoppage-time goals from Jefferson Louis gave the Millers a 4-2 victory at Ware in the Pitching In Southern League Division 1 Central play-off final.

It means the village club will play at step three of non-league – the seventh tier of English football – for the first time in 2022/23.

Read the match report here

Ware battled back from 2-0 down to score twice in the final ten minutes, only for 43-year-old Louis to spark jubilant scenes on and off the pitch with his late double.

The celebrations continued into the evening and Odhiambo wants his players to drink it in.

The Millers manager said: “I want the players to dine out on this for as long as they can.

“I think it’s important they celebrate because I’ve kept such a tight leash on them, probably unfairly for a club at step four.

“They’ve responded so well and know it’s their time. They can relax and enjoy it.”

Remarkably, North Leigh won the play-offs despite falling short of the top five.

The Millers took Welwyn Garden City’s place in the competition when the Hertfordshire club were kicked out over ground grading standards.

They beat second-placed Berkhamsted 2-1 in the semi-finals and appeared on course for a more comfortable triumph at Ware.

George Nash gave North Leigh the lead with a long-range thunderbolt five minutes before the break and Aaron McCreadie fired home the next goal early in the second half.

But Ware fought back and scored twice in quick succession to seemingly force extra time.

The Millers stayed calm, though, and Louis climbed high to head home five minutes into stoppage-time, before sealing victory on the counter-attack moments later.

The former Oxford United striker has played for dozens of clubs in a storied career and his manager knew he could make the difference.

“I said to Jeff: ‘these are the games I brought you in for’ – and he delivered,” Odhiambo said.

“We don’t panic when things go wrong because we know we’ve got the answers.

“I was displeased that we sat back for a spell. We almost lost our energy and our desire to go forward.

“I tried getting the boys together in a huddle at 2-1 and they ignored me.

“At 2-2 we went forward and they seemed a bit broken by that.”

North Leigh’s promotion to the top tier of the Southern League is a remarkable achievement for a village with a population of under 2,000 people.

But the Millers were in the promotion hunt all season and Odhiambo feels they are worthy play-off winners, despite the late wobble.

He said: “I felt like it was justification because I thought we were the better team.

“I was quite angry with how we got ourselves in that position.”