Winners of the League Two Playoff Final have gone on to secure their first ever promotion to League One in the last game of the campaign.
The sun was once again shining, the teams are in and the atmosphere was building at Wembley ahead of the last of this year’s EFL playoff finals.
After Brentford beat Swansea City to reach the Premier League and Blackpool saw off Lincoln City to secure a place in the Championship, today’s battle is for promotion to the third tier of English football.
Derek Adams’ Morecambe, who finished fourth in the League Two table, faced Michael Flynn’s Newport County, who ended the regular season in fifth.
The Shrimps knew that they had chance to go up to League One for the first time in their 101 year history, whereas the Exiles were looking at finally returning since last being in it which was the 1986/1987 season.
Two minutes in saw an early foul on Morecambe’s Carlos Mendes Gomes which then lead to a quickly taken free-kick. Mendes Gomes bursts down the inside right channel but could only shoot wide.
A decent ball over the top from Cole Stockton had Liam McAlinden interested, however Tom King was off his line quickly to clear the danger.
Then Ryan Haynes thought he is fouled on halfway but referee Bobby Madley was not interested. Morecambe sprung forward but Newport eventually snuffed out the danger.
By the 10th minute, you could say that Morecambe’s Derek Adams would be the slightly happier manager of the two. His team looked to have settled better than Newport.
Sam Lavelle met a free-kick with a header in the Newport box, but it was a looping effort and it was Tom King’s turn to make a solid claim.
Kyle Letheren came for another Mickey Demetriou long throw but this time he couldn’t get there. Scot Bennett won the header and the ball rolls just wide of the empty net.
Letheren was fortunate that referee Bobby Madley chose not award a spot-kick as he cleans Bennett out.
Newport stood firm as a couple of balls rain into their box. Carlos Mendes Gomes then crossed dangerously but the ball missed everyone.
The rather quiet opening half continues with chances, could be described as like a basketball match with it constantly end to end.
On the 27th minute, in his attempt to punch the ball, the Morecambe keeper connected with the Newport defender’s face, and avoided a booking.
Michael Pearlman (BBC Sport Wales at Wembley): “Newport fans felt hard done by at Wembley two seasons ago when they felt the major decisions went against them against Tranmere.
“In what appears to be a very cagey contest, will Newport’s sense of injustice come to the fore again?
“There is no question the Exiles should have had a penalty as Kyle Letheren clobbered Scot Bennett. It was like watching Roman Reigns deliver a superman punch. He flew through the air but referee Bobby Madley was unmoved.
“Will Newport rue that moment?”
10 minutes left of the first half, cheers could be heard all round the stadium as the assistant referee flags so angrily for a free-kick that his flag breaks.
Then there was applause a round of applause as both sets of fans paid tribute to Christian Mbulu, the Morecambe player who sadly died last year. He worse shirt number 34.
Following some chances, the whistle went to end what was an engaging first half.
Both sides had their moments, with the non-award of a Newport penalty after Kyle Letheren’s challenge on Scot Bennett the biggest talking point.
Jason Perry (Former Newport defender on BBC Radio Wales): “I think Morecambe will be happy, it’s exactly as they want the game to be, tight. They look comfortable and know they’ll always get a chance on the counter with their pace.”
Jay Freeman (BBC Sport): “An exciting half but still no goals at either end.
“During the regular season, only 12th-placed Crawley conceded more goals in the top half of the table than Morecambe.
“But so far the Shrimps have held firm when Newport have gone forward.
“Can Derek Adams’ side continue to frustrate the Exiles? It will be interesting to see if any changes are made at the break.”
⌚ HALF-TIME ⌚
Newport go agonisingly close just before the break! We remain goalless though and it’s all to play for in the second 45. 🔥🍿
📺 Morecambe against Newport is live on Sky Sports Football pic.twitter.com/DKa5KYg2tT
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 31, 2021
Newport enjoyed some early possession early in the second period and they had a corner, though played low and cleared.
Then Newport came forward again as Joss Labadie feeds Lewis Collins. His shot was deflected but Kyle Letheren readjusts and made the save.
While Morecambe continued to try and ask questions for the first time in the second half, a spell of territory and possession came to nothing with Newport are standing strong.
The game was open before the break, though turned a more scrappier affair in the second, with surely more whistles blown by the ref than the has been successful passes.
On the 79th minute, Newport’s patience eventually lead to a shooting chance for Liam Shephard. His 20-yard effort was creeping in but Kyle Letheren saved.
As a neutral, it was quite a uninspiring watch neutral. So on came 42 year old Kevin Ellison for Newport with roughly 5 minutes remaining.
Before the game, a lot of fans said they would have loved to see him subbed on and score the winner, to then do his celebration where he screamed at his former club’s manager again. Ellison did this a while back because of how he was left out and treated by Derek Adams whilst a Morecambe player.
A further five minute was added on to the 90, however this tie quite frankly was always destined for extra time.
On the 17th minute of extra, we finally had a break through, although it was a controversial decision that lead to it.
🦐💥 | Morecambe have the BREAKTHROUGH!!!
The Wembley roof almost comes off as Mendes Gomes scores from the spot, but should it have been a penalty?!
📺 Morecambe against Newport is live on Sky Sports Football! pic.twitter.com/f6rbJz8pbM
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 31, 2021
John O’Sullivan went down under a challenge from Ryan Haynes and referee Bobby Madley said it was a Morecambe penalty. Sky commentators were adamant that it was a harsh decision, especially after the incident which saw no penalty awarded to Newport for one of their players getting punched in the face by the keeper.
Morecambe took the lead as Carlos Mendes Gomes, former youth player at Atletico Madrid, sent Tom King the wrong way from spot to cause scenes behind the goal.
Nathan Blake (Former Cardiff and Wales striker on BBC Radio Wales): “That’s ridiculous, there’s two men coming together, there’s two men going for the same ball, for me O’Sullivan has gone down there and mugged the referee.”
Jay Freeman (BBC Sport): “That is heartbreaking for Newport and a massive let off for Morecambe.
“John O’Sullivan arguably doesn’t even go down in the box as far as I’m concerned.
“It’s made even worse by the fact Newport should have had a penalty earlier. Just over 10 minutes remain for Mike Flynn’s side to get back in it.”
And that was it Morecambe are promoted to League One for the first time in their history.
The Shrimps triumph thanks to that contentious penalty from Carlos Mendes Gomes in the second period of extra time.
It is a glorious moment for the Lancashire club, but you have to feel for Newport.
Play-off final defeat is invariably tough to take. To lose like that is particularly galling.
Morecambe goalscorer Carlos Mendes Gomes told Sky Sports: “I worked all my life for moments like this.
“It’s unbelievable because I know how much it means to Morecambe Football Club.
“It’s my first professional club and they treated me like I family since I arrived.
“If I was writing a story, probably it would be this way. I knew that penalty would mean a lot if I put it in and I just tried to stay as calm as possible.
“I was taking penalties in training yesterday and the gaffer said to me, ‘if we get a penalty tomorrow, you are taking it’.”
Morecambe captain Sam Lavelle told Sky Sports: “League One is unheard for Morecambe. I can’t describe it.
“The last 10 minutes, we dealt with everything coming into our box. That sums us up – a clean sheet in a Wembley play-off final.
“It’s one of the best days of my life.”
🔴 Promoted after 14 consecutive seasons in League 2 since 2007-08
🔴 Will play in third tier of English football for first time, next season
🔴 Won 24 of 40 league & play-off games this season when having less than 50% possession, including today (41%)#EFL pic.twitter.com/yt3sOlBUOX
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) May 31, 2021
𝗠𝗢𝗥𝗘𝗖𝗔𝗠𝗕𝗘 𝗔𝗥𝗘 𝗣𝗥𝗢𝗠𝗢𝗧𝗘𝗗! 🦐⬆️
What a moment for the Shrimps as captain Sam Lavelle lifts the League Two Play-off trophy! 🏆🍾 pic.twitter.com/svdpNZ9kXy
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 31, 2021
Fans reacted as the winners of the 2020/21 League Two Playoff Final secure their first ever promotion to League One…
ON MORECAMBE’S TWEET:
Newport got cheated there you lot won’t survive one season in league one 😂😂 league two again 🔜🔜
— Bradderz (@pafc_brad) May 31, 2021
@Ryanarm5trong42: Easy 6 points for everyone
@AdamDolby3: Congratulations Morecambe. As an Imp I’ve always enjoyed trips to play at yours. See you in League 1 next season!!
@haradasnsjshsh: Love it lads, one of the friendliest clubs in English football, always made us feel welcome. Clubs in League 1 are in for a treat.
@seanbaker87: Congratulations Morecambe. Fully deserved 4th best team in the league scored loads of goals. All the best in league one.
@n19drk: 2/2 Welsh teams bottling the play offs, love to see it
@JohnSulluvan: Tranmere fan here, we’ll done was hoping you’d do it after beating us. Dodgy decision for the goal though. Now give Bolton & Stanley a good kicking from us next season. Best of luck and enjoy your away days!
@BillyWafc1932: See you next season lads
@Boothendeb: Hopefully you’ll be straight back down again after that display of diving. It may be your first promotion to league one but wasn’t deserved.
Fans continued to react as the winners of the 2020/21 League Two Playoff Final secure their first ever promotion to League One…
ON NEWPORT’S TWEET:
Can you extend my message to Thomas King, he was right, He who laugh last, laughs the Longest. pic.twitter.com/S5ap91n9hT
— Baxblue (@Baxblue1) May 31, 2021
@ZigMonVIII: Congratulations to the referee. !!!! You won the game…
@RobbieCruicksh1: That refereeing performance was shocking 😂
@MrsChapman76: Never a penalty, lost County the game!
@Lee_Rob19: Gutted for you! As an Exeter fan I feel your pain!!
@Lcfc_walton: First Wrexham, then Swansea and now Newport 😂😂 Beautiful scenes 🏴
@RobertC_Robins: What a farce… officiating cost you that game. Very undeserved
@NeilSullivan7: Robbed! Defo pen in first half with their keeper taking your player out.
@FGRVlogs: Unlucky lads that was some shocking ref decisions in that game
@Challinor277: Got to feel bad for Newport. 2 trips to wembley, 2 bs penalty decisions that have cost them
@BillyMann23_: Fucking ref again! Make it less obvious next time