Port Vale V Mansfield in March
It was fierce clash in the most recent fixture between the two finalists. Credit: Tom Green

The full League One line-up will be complete after the conclusion of the League Two play-off final between Mansfield Town and Port Vale this Saturday.  

Mansfield were victorious in both legs of their semi-final against Northampton Town, whereas Port Vale overturned a 2-1 deficit after the first leg and defeated Swindon Town on penalties.

Both fanbases will be heading down to Wembley this weekend hoping their team can seal a place in the third tier.

Mansfield were last in League One in 2003 which was a disastrous season, finishing 23rd having been promoted just one season earlier. Vale were relegated from the third tier in 2017 and have remained in League Two ever since – but this is the closest they have been to a return.

It was revealed that VAR will be involved in all of the play-off finals in the EFL, which could add even more drama to the occasion.

Mansfield Town

Team News

Mansfield began their last game in a 4-3-3 formation, with the dangerous Rhys Oates upfront. But the goal came from Player of the Season Stephen McLaughlin to send Mansfield through 3-1 on aggregate.

It seems that January signing Matthew Longstaff, who shocked the fans in the lower leagues when he dropped to League Two, might have to settle for a place on the bench after failing to make an appearance in the last game – but had started the previous ten matches.

Stags captain Ollie Clarke may return to the starting XI after a long-term injury put him on the sidelines for two months. Strangely enough, it was Port Vale where he made his last appearance before the injury but he did play six minutes in Mansfield’s last game at Northampton.

Manager Nigel Clough speaks after semi-final win

“It was hard work but it was an incredible effort by the players over the two legs – and the last eight months.

“Tonight we were very, very good in denying the opposition a lot of opportunities. The blocks and the tackles were a feature of the game.

“The defending started at the front. I thought Quinny and Oatesy started that off and Jordan and Lucas doing their defensive duties were outstanding,” he added. 

VAR to be used in the final

Port Vale

Team News

The Valiants have had no luck with injuries all season. Captain Tom Conlon, top scorer Jamie Proctor, Brad Walker, Chris Hussey, Dan Jones all missed Vale’s semi-final second leg victory over Swindon and only Proctor has the potential to possibly be ready for the final.

The Stoke-on-Trent-based side were also without manager Darrell Clarke for a huge chunk of the season due to a close family bereavement but returned for the final game of the season. He will now likely be banned from the touchline at Wembley after receiving a red card against Swindon.

That being said, Port Vale are unlikely to make any changes from their win on Thursday night. Proctor may return upfront to replace Huddersfield Town loanee Kian Harrat and the only other potential change would see Harry Charlsey, the former Stag, come in for the place of Jake Taylor in midfield.

Manager Darrell Clarke after semi-final win

“I want to apologise. I shouldn’t have done what I did on the touchline. I apologise to Swindon and Dion. They’re a good club, he’s a good player. I don’t know what came over me. I’ve had an emotional time. It’s the first time I’ve been sent off.

“As for being proud of the club, the owners, the players, the staff, they’ve given everything and I thought we fully deserved to go through.

“It’s hard to put in words the amount of love I’ve got from my staff, players and owners. It’s hard to say without sounding corny but the support I’ve had after losing one of the dearest things in my life has been overwhelming.”

Head-to-head record

Mansfield Town 1-1 Port Vale 19/10/21

Port Vale 3-1 Mansfield Town 15/3/22