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Winners of League Two Playoff Final seal promotion to League One

The winners of Saturday evening’s League Two Playoff Final seal promotion to League One as Mansfield Town took on Port Vale.

After tense semi final matches, it left both clubs with plenty of momentum ahead of the showpiece event at Wembley, the reward on offer a place in the third tier.

Both these sides played a part in what was a crazy final day of the League Two season in which the title changed hands and Bristol Rovers go above Northampton in the final automatic promotion spot – thanks to that 7-0 win against Scunthorpe.

Exeter City went into their game knowing they would seal the title if they could better Forest Green’s result against Mansfield.

The only team standing in their way was Port Vale with James Wilson and a late Josh March equaliser to secure the title for Forest Green on goal difference, as the games ended Exeter 0-1 Port Vale, Mansfield 2-2 Forest Green.

Vale ended up in fifth in the table, while the point ensured Mansfield finished seventh – in the final playoff spot.


Northampton had to quickly turn their focus to the playoffs despite beating Barrow 3-1 on the final day, taking on Mansfield in the semi-final.

Goals from Rhys Oates and Jordan Bowery, before Ali Koiki’s response, gave the Stags a 2-1 lead going into the second leg at Northampton, where Steve McLaughlin’s controversial first-half winner sealed the win for the Nottinghamshire outfit.

For Port Vale, it couldn’t have been closer with nothing separatating them and Swindon after two legs and 210 minutes of football.

The Robins won the first leg 2-1 at the County Ground, taking a lead through Harry McKirdy’s double before James Wilson’s late reply gave the Valiants a decisive foothold in the game.

Wilson’s early strike levelled the tie at Vale Park and the score stayed 2-2 as the clock went down to full time, then on to the end of extra-time.

Two of Vale’s first three spot kicks in the shootout were saved but from then on their players kept their nerve and won a place in the final.

Mal Benning netted their sixth spot-kick before Ellis Iandolo sent his over.

So then, how did the game played out, take a look for yourself below…

2: Mansfield won the ball from kick off, but quickly put it out of play, to the delight of the Vale fans.Β 

3: WIDE! Port Vale’s Jake Taylor received the ball from the left flank, looked up and directed a cross towards the far post, but Nathan Bishop saw it drop wide.

9: SAVE! Mansfield’s Jamie Murphy went through a gap to attack a cross left by Vale’s Aidan Stone, but the goalkeeper recovered to made a save to keep out his header at point-blank range

14: Vale fans had a near panic, as Connor Hall headed the ball back to Aidan Stone without realising the goalkeeper is outside of the 18-yard box. He managed to head away under pressure, but that was dangerous from Vale.

19: OFF THE POST! After a nice bit of play from Port Vale, Ben Garrity teed up Kian Harratt, who smashed a lovely strike that looked set to go in the back of the net. It came off the base of the left-hand post with Nathan Bishop beating, getting Mansfield off the hook

GOAL! Mansfield 0-1 Port Vale (Harratt, 20)
Darrell Clarke’s men attacked again, Mal Benning hit a cross that bobbled up for Kian Harratt, who planted a header in the bottom left corner

GOAL! Mansfield 0-2 Port Vale (Wilson, 24)
Port Vale doubled their lead with David Worrall crossing from the right to Ben Garrity, who leaped to direct a header onto the bar with Bishop beaten. But it bounced nicely into the path of James Wilson, who stayed onside to head into the back of the net

27: Stoppage in play, with Port Vale Ben Garrity down in the Mansfield box and received treatment.

30: YELLOW! Oliver Hawkins picked up the first booking of the afternoon from referee Jarred Gillett.

34: SAVE! Mal Benning made a determined run, untracked, down the left wing, drove into the box and hit the ball towards the near post, where Nathan Bishop managed to save.

35: RED CARD! Mansfield went down to 10 men when Hawkins, who only picked up his first booking minutes before, was shown a second after a cynical block on James Wilson

42: OFF THE LINE! So close to a lifeline for Mansfield! Stephen McLaughlin sent in the free-kick from the left, which Aidan Stone managed to fumble into the path of Rhys Oates, the shot was hooked off the line at the vital moment by Connor Hall!

45: YELLOW! Elliott Hewitt went into the book for a challenge that has left Port Vale’s Jack Taylor in a heap on the touchline.

45+1: OVER! Nathan Smith came in at the far post to meet a free-kick that followed the foul on Taylor, but he couldn’t get over the ball and headed off target.

45+4: YELLOW! James Perch went into the book for a wild swing at the ball in front of Ben Garrity, conceding a free-kick a few yards outside the D…

45+5: CLOSE! Vale nearly sealed the win on the stroke of half time, as James Wilson lined up the free-kick, took aim and bent it inches wide of the left-hand upright

HALF TIME! It couldn’t have gone much better for Darrell Clarke and Port Vale.

Sky Sports’ EFL Editor Simeon Gholam at Wembley: “What a half. Barely had time to catch my breath. It nearly started so well for Mansfield, as only a point-blank save from Stone denied Murphy the opener, but from there it all went wrong.

“Kian Harratt gave Vale the lead, James Wilson soon doubled it. Then a moment of madness from Oli Hawkins saw him pick up a second yellow and leave Mansfield with 10 men.

“Oates then went so close to getting one back, but was denied by a clearance off the line.

“Nigel Clough is going to have to pick himself up and produce some team talk here…”

53: WIDE! Port Vale looked to kill this game off when a cross found its way across the box and dropped at a perfect height for Jake Taylor, who lashed just wide first time.

54: SUB! First change for Mansfield, as George Lapslie replaced Jamie Murphy.

59: Big roar from the Mansfield end with their side winning a corner. Stephen McLaughlin’s shot on the turn flies wide.

64: BALL IN THE NET! A corner was played short to James Wilson, whose shot took a nick and found Kian Harratt, tucking in from a yard or two out. The Vale end went wild but celebrations are stopped due to the linesman’s flag. VAR wasn’t needed, despite appeals from the crowd.

65: SUB! Matty Longstaff was withdrawn by Nigel Clough. Throwing his chewing gum to the deck in frustration as George Maris came on to replace him.

67: SUB! Jake Taylor made way for Vale. Harry Charsley on.

70: BALL IN THE NET… AGAIN! Harry Charsley got on the end of a lovely through ball and finished clinically, however again the ‘goal’ didn’t stand as he was offside!Β 

72: SAVE! Aidan Stone called into action for the first time this half, pushed Rhys Oates’ deflected shot around the post. Corner came to nothing.

74: SHOT! Rhys Oates missed another chance from 25 yards, going across the face of goal and behind.

76: SUB! Jamie Proctor came on to see out the game for Vale. Kian Harratt – who scored the first of the afternoon – left the pitch.

79: SUB! Clough brought on Lucas Akins in place of Stephen Quinn.

83: Today’s attendance at Wembley has been confirmed as 37,303.

GOAL! Mansfield 0-3 Port Vale (Benning, 85)
David Worrall lost his footing on the right, got it back and lifted a cross high into the air from the byline. It went over everyone and Mal Benning was there to meet it, volleyed low and into the bottom corner first time!

FULL TIME! It is all over at Wembley and Port Vale have secured promotion back to League One after a comprehensive 3-0 win over Mansfield!

Sky Sports’ EFL Editor Simeon Gholam at Wembley: “What an afternoon for Port Vale! They dominate at Wembley to seal promotion to League One! They took control pretty early on and never let up, and in truth it was game over from the moment Oli Hawkins was sent off on 35 minutes – with Mansfield already 2-0 down.

“They will play in the third tier for the first time since 2017. For Mansfield, it was just one of those days. It has been 19 years since they last played at League One level. That will soon be at least 20.”

Post-match stats

– For the fourth time in four attempts, Mansfield failed to win promotion via the play-offs (1995, 2004, 2019 and 2022). This was the second time they’ve reached the final and failed to win, having previously lost in a penalty shootout against Huddersfield in 2004.

– Port Vale have now won promotion in two of their three play-off appearances, however this was their first triumph since the 1988-89 season while in the third tier. They are the first team to win promotion via the League Two play-offs after finishing fifth since 2014-15 (Southend).

– Mansfield failed to win all three of their games against Port Vale in 2021-22 (D1 L2), with the Valiants being one of only three teams to beat Mansfield on multiple occasions this term (also Harrogate and Sutton).

Fans reacted as the winners of this year’s League Two Playoff Final seal promotion to the League One…

@pvfccharlie: damn right we fucking are baby 😍😍😍😍😍

@caitlinjjwebb: Delighted for you. Congratulations #PVFC🀍Deserved as everπŸ‘

@rachaelgoughx: There isn’t a man in the land that deserves it more than Darrell Clarke, congratsπŸ‘

@DanFPL76: Really pleased for Darrell Clarke. See you next season. #UTG

@RussWWFC: Up the Vale, good opportunity to visit the Bulls Head, one of the best pubs in football. Also Oatcakes, Port Vale is a great away day.

@evanzie93: From a Shrewsbury fan rivalries aside, great to have a proper derby back. Respect to your manager too. See you soon. πŸ‘

@Bristoliang1en: A massive congratulations to all at Port Vale. DC is a Gas and Vale legend! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ #UTG #UTV

@Kpz2005: Congratulations PV. Absolutely delighted for DC βš½οΈπŸ’™ what a hero he is. See you next season #UTG

@AdrianColes72: Well done Darrell Clarke & Port Vale , best team Bristol Rovers played home and away and they play the right way, see you next season πŸ‘

@joshandrew000: Well done vale. Proper club and fans. Better team won by far. See you next season

@hughesy_lee: Freaking excellent, every player was a lion today! Well deserved! Burslem is definitely bouncing right now.!!

@DcfcKirk: Well done, great away trip to Vale park next season, not sure how big the away end holds for the massive Derby following. Nice trip for you guys as well coming to pride Park, all Black & white ain’t we ⚫️βšͺ️

@hannahberry93: So happy my husband got to make the trip from America for such amazing memories with his dad and nephew πŸ–€πŸ€πŸ’›

@breadus: Absolutely gutted. So poor and game went in first 30 mins. See ya 10,000 at Crawley and Wimbledon πŸ’›πŸ’™ #Stags

@Tigerdecor: Fair play @mansfieldtownfc, early chance and sending off changed the game but fair play to Darrell Clarke and @portvale were the better team overall and well done, deserved, hopefully stags can build on this and get automatic promotion next season #stags #upthestags

@DerbyStatistics: Unlucky #stags, hopefully you’ll bounce back next season under Cloughie and push this result behind you! β€οΈπŸ‘πŸ» #mtfc

@JohnIntraining: Shame for #Stags but fair play to #pvfc. That’s cup football. So important to get a good start and maintain discipline. Lessons probably for #NFFC there. Not sure Coops need them though 😏

@Footiespr5687: Rivalries aside Port Vale have deserved win the final and Mansfield need to overhaul squad Oates good player but too deep and to many players past their best OToole , Perch and Quinn name a few #pvfc #stags

@MTFCMusings: What a day to put in a shocker #MTFC #Stags

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