This afternoon sees the League 2 play-off final at Wembley Stadium with Morecambe trying to get promotion to the 3rd tier for the first time in their history and Newport County looking to play in the 3rd tier for the first time since 1986/87. Like Saturrday’s Championship game and yesterday’s League 1 game, this game will be played in front of a limited attendance as part of the government’s recovery plan to lift restrictions on sporting events on 21st June.
Road To The Final – Morecambe
Morecambe finished the regular season in 4th place in League 2 with 78 points having won 23 games, drawn 9 and lost 14. They beat Tranmere Rovers 3-2 on aggregate in the semi-final, winning 2-1 at Tranmere in the first-leg (goals from Nathaniel Knight-Pervical and Liam McAlinden) while they drew 1-1 in the home leg (Aaron Wildig).
Forward Carlos Mendes Gomes is their top scorer this season with 15 goals in the league (joint top-scorer in all competitions with Cole Stockton with 15 goals).
Road To The Final – Newport County
Newport finished the regular season in 5th place in League 2 with 73 points having won 20 games, drawn 13 and lost 13. They beat Forest Green Rovers 5-4 on aggregate after extra-time in the semi-final, winning 2-0 at home (Matt Dolan and Lewis Collins) before losing the away leg 4-3 (Kevin Ellison, Josh Labadie and Nicky Maynard).
Padraig Amond, Matt Dolan and Scott Twine were all top scorers in the league for the club with 6 goals (Amond top-scorer in all competitions with 9)
Who are the officials for the game?
This game sees Bobby Madley as the referee, Geoffrey Liddle & David Hunt are his assistants while Craig Hicks is the fourth official. So far this season, he has refereed 32 games (18 games in League 1 and 14 games in League 2) and has shown 105 yellow cards as well as 5 reds.
Morecambe wins: 7
Newport wins: 5
Biggest Morecambe win: 4-1 at the Globe Arena in March 2014
Biggest Newport win: 3-1 at the Globe Arena in March 2021
Morecambe 1-3 Newport County, 13th March 2021
Matt Dolan opened the scoring for the visitors in the 8th minute before Yann Songo’o levelled in the 20th minute. George Lavelle would be sent off 8 minutes before the break with Josh Sheehan scoring just before the break before Ellison clinching the game 11 minutes from time.
Morecambe: Letheren; Mellor, Lavelle, Davis, Gibson (Cooney 66); Songo’o; O’Sullivan (Hendrie 65), Wildig (Pringle 82), Diagouraga (Denny 82), Mendes Gomes; Stockton (McAlinden 65)
Newport: Townsend; Farquharson (Longe-King 84), Dolan, Demetriou; Shephard, Labadie, Bennett (Ellison 69), Sheehan, Lewis; Amond (Maynard 69), Taylor (Telford 87)
Played For Both
8 players have been on the books of both teams.
Goalkeepers: Kyle Letheren
Defenders: Martyn Giles, Alan Goodall
Midfielders: Jamie Devitt
Forwards: Padraig Amond, Aaron Collins, Kevin Ellison, Rene Howe
How would you describe your season?
JS: A superb season by every measure other than not being able to see most of the games. To go from a relegation threatened team to genuine promotion contenders in 12 months is nothing short of incredible.
Having said that, a lot of Morecambe fans were confident that we would have a much-improved season, myself included, and fortunately we have proven the bookies wrong again. It has not been a fluke, we have been consistently up there for most of the season and are very worthy of our place in the final.
Taff: Well it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. We started the season strong and looked comfortable at the top of the table but a mixture of poor form over the festive season and key loanees being recalled really hit us hard. We managed to get the firm back in the run up to the end of season and we’re coming into the game full of confidence.
Is there anybody that is missing from the game?
JS: We have a couple of players entirely ruled out – Jordan Slew and Stephen Hendrie. A couple more are doubt and/or returning for short injuries but overall we have a relatively full strength squad available to us. Derek has assembled a team with 2 players for each position so we are relatively well covered in all areas.
Taff: No players missing from the squad and none likely to return to the squad.
Who is the danger man for your side?
JS: Carlos Mendes Gomes on his day can be a real danger player, with great skill and composure. Cole Stockton will be the thorn in Newport’s side and bring others in to play, but we have quality all across the park and goals could come from anywhere.
Taff: I think the great part of Newport County is that there’s no one danger man in the team. All the players work as a unit to get the best out of eachother but the player to look out for will be striker Lewis Collins. Born and raised in Newport and a product of our academy, Collins has really stepped up to the plate and added the spark we’ve been lacking since January. Picked up a goal in the first leg against Forest Green Rovers, he’s really on his game now.
What is the team that you’d pick for the game?
JS: I would pick a similar team to that which started last week, there certainly isn’t anyone you would want to drop at the moment. We set up and play the same game every week and it has worked for us, so I shouldn’t expect we would change it for the final.
Taff: I think over the last 7 games we’ve played the same side, purely because it’s our best side. We live up as a 5-3-2 with our wingbacks (Haynes and Lewis) moving up and down the pitch to play a sort of 3-5-2. Collins and Amond likely to start up top with Nick Townsend in between the sticks.
How would that differ from what your manager would pick?
JS: I wouldn’t expect Derek to make too many changes, if any, from the semi-final last week. The bench may look slightly different to give us more options for changing the game if required, but the starting line-up I would expect to be largely unchanged.
Taff: I think he would pick the team above.