We are just three games from Wembley, as the League Two play-offs kick off on Saturday and Sunday. Swindon Town take on Port Vale on the Sunday lunch time kick off looking for a positive result to take to Vale Park on Thursday evening.
It was relatively straight forward for the Robins last Saturday away at Walsall. Backed by over 3,600 away support who took up two stands at Walsall they saw a very comfortable 3-0 away win in the sunshine. The early goal from Harry McKirdy helped with the nerves after a blistering run down the right from Mandela Egbo. Then it was the Jack Payne show, the midfielder struck twice including a wondergoal from close to thirty yards out. Close to the end of the first half, the game was wrapped up after McKirdy was brought down and Payne dispatched the penalty.
The second half was a non-event and to be honest it was a blur while watching from behind the goal that Swindon were attacking in the second half. Swindon Town did their job with the away win and got into the play-offs with a fantastic run at the end of the season with four wins out of four. Myself coming away from the Leyton Orient game on Easter Monday, I thought the season was over and we blew it. We gave ourselves a chance by winning the last four games and we finished sixth and missed out finishing above Port Vale by one point meaning the home leg will be played first.
Ben Garner confirmed in his pre-match press conference today that there was no fresh injury worries ahead of tomorrow’s game. Lyden, Hunt, Cooper and Tomlinson are still out injured. Jojo Wollacott is back in training and will be available for tomorrow’s game.
STFC Predicted line up
Ward, Egbo, Conroy, Baudry, Iandolo, Reed, Payne, Williams, McKirdy, Barry, Davison.
Port Vale finished above Swindon in the League Two standings by one point, Port Vale finished in fifth with Seventy-eight points from the forty-six games. The four teams who finished in the play-off positions were just separated by just three points. Northampton Town finished on eighty points and were denied promotion on the final day after Bristol Rovers 7-0 win against Scunthorpe United. Mansfield Town who finished in the last play-off position finished on seventy-seven points.
Port Vale had an unbelievable run to the end of the season through middle of March to the end of May. They were in the race for automatic promotion until three defeats in a row in late April ended the dream of a top three finish. Port Vale won nine out of the last twelve games, but the run faltered at the crucial time of the season.
Through the middle of March to Easter Friday, Port Vale won eight games in a row and were sitting in third place. Crawley Town, Mansfield Town, Bradford, Sutton United, Barrow, Salford United, Oldham Athletic and Hartlepool United were all defeated. Port Vale were on the cusp of joining Forest Green Rovers and Exeter City in Automatic promotion. But the dream fell away with three defeats in a row, Bristol Rovers, Walsall, and Newport County all defeated Darrell Clarke side. A final day victory over Exeter City clinched fifth place. With finishing higher in the league, the second leg will be at home for Port Vale.
It is going to be an interesting tie over two legs, both teams during the season won the away games. Swindon form at the end of the season has been excellent with four wins in a row, unlike Port Vale which is patchy with one win in four after winning eight in a row. Its going to be compelling, nervy anxious and great to watch. We find out on Thursday evening who will advance to the final in two weeks’ time.
By Scot Munroe.