Final day permutations: Who needs to do what to win promotion from League Two?

Five teams have a chance of finishing third going into the final day of the campaign

By James Heneghan
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 10:53 am
Four managers all hoping to guide their teams to promotion, either automatically or through the play-offs.
Four managers all hoping to guide their teams to promotion, either automatically or through the play-offs.

The League Two promotion race is set for a thrilling conclusion with five teams in the mix for third place going into the final day of the season.

The Cobblers are currently best placed as they occupy third spot on goal difference from Bristol Rovers, but Mansfield Town, Port Vale and Swindon Town also all have an outside shot.

Here’s what each team needs to do to secure automatic promotion…

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Current position: 3rd, 77pts, +20 goal difference

Fixture: Barrow away, 21st

Task: The equation here is relatively simple. A win would secure promotion unless Bristol Rovers put at least six goals past Scunthorpe. Anything else, however, would not be good enough assuming one of Rovers, Vale and Mansfield win. Lose at Holker Street and even Swindon down in 7th could overtake Jon Brady’s side.

Bristol Rovers

Current position: 4th, 77pts, +15 goal difference

Fixture: Scunthorpe home, 24th

Task: A win for Rovers coupled with draw or defeat for Northampton at Barrow and Joey Barton's team would be promoted. But even if Cobblers win, Rovers could still theoretically finish third if they rack up a big scoreline. They are currently five goals worse off so if Cobblers win 1-0 and Rovers win 6-0, the two teams would be level on both points and goal difference but the Gas would finish higher due to the fact they have scored more goals this season. Usually this scenario would seem fanciful but Rovers are at home to the worst team in the division so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

Mansfield Town

Current position: 5th, 76pts, +15 goal difference

Fixture: Forest Green home, 2nd

Task: Beat Forest Green and hope both Bristol Rovers and Northampton fail to win. Anything else would not be good enough. The Stags are also not entirely assured of a play-off place. If they lose and the three teams directly below them all win, they would slide out of the play-offs altogether.

Port Vale

Current position: 6th, 75pts, +20 goal difference

Fixture: Exeter away, 1st

Task: Next in line is Port Vale who must beat title-chasing Exeter and hope the three above teams all slip up. Again, though, their first priority will be on trying to secure a play-off place with Sutton and Swindon just below them.

Swindon Town

Current position: 7th, 74pts, +20 goal difference

Fixture: Walsall away, 15th

Task: First, Bristol Rovers and Northampton must both lose. Then, Mansfield and Vale must both fail to win. If that all happens, and Swindon beat Walsall, they will climb from 7th all the way to 3rd and snatch automatic promotion in dramatic fashion. It appears unlikely but it’s not impossible.

Sutton United

Current position: 8th, 73pts, +14 goal difference

Fixture: Harrogate away, 17th

Task: Sutton cannot reach the top three but they will be confident of sneaking into the play-offs if they beat Harrogate. A win in Yorkshire is all they need providing Swindon fail to win at Walsall or one of Vale or Mansfield lose.

Tranmere Rovers

Current position: 9th, 72pts, +12 goal difference

Fixture: Leyton Orient away, 13th

Task: The only way Rovers can make a late dash for the play-offs is if they win in the capital, Swindon lose and Sutton fail to win.