After a long and arduous League Two season, Newport and Tranmere have one final fixture to overcome, the League Two play-off final. The prize at stake is great, promotion up the English Football League pyramid to League One. Neither team should be fazed by the situation though, both having been regular visitors to Wembley Stadium since it re-opened in 2007.
The side from South Wales has had an action-packed season. Their FA Cup run encompassing giant-killing victories over Championship side Middlesbrough and former Premier League champions Leicester City before ultimately coming to an end in the 5th round at the hands of British football’s biggest giants, Manchester City.
Having won the 2012 FA Trophy final and secured promotion back to the Football League in 2013, Newport know a thing or two about winning at Wembley. They’ll be hoping to maintain their late-season run of form – 10 games unbeaten – that saw a last-minute charge into promotion contention and a 7th spot finish (at one point they were as low as 15th in the table). They drew both semi-final games against Mansfield Town, progressing to the final via a penalty shootout victory.
Tranmere are seeking a second successive promotion via the play-offs, having returned to the Football League last season courtesy of an astonishing Wembley victory over Boreham Wood. Astonishing because they battled for the entire game with 10 men, having had a man sent off with only a minute on the clock.
Tranmere finished sixth in League Two, only six points off an automatic promotion spot. A run of seven straight wins in February and March saw them reach as high as fifth in the table and within touching distance of automatic spot, however, a run of only one win in their last seven league games would ultimately consign them to a play-off spot. In the semi-final, they won at home and drew away, with opponents Forest Green having a man sent off in each fixture.
Tranmere Rovers are slight favourites entering the final, with odds of 3/2 (2.50) for victory against Newport County. Newport find themselves in with a decent chance though, priced at 13/7 (2.85) to achieve promotion.
Matches between these two sides are always close affairs, three of the last four fixtures have ended in a draw. Of the two fixtures this season, Newport secured a rare victory, winning 2-1 at Tranmere in the early season fixture. The more recent meeting reverted to type, with a 0-0 draw.
Given the history between the sides and the often tight nature of finals, we’d opt for the draw at 2/1 (3.00).
*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of going to print.