League Two Final Day Permutations: Will Stockport Or Northampton Seal Third?

The battle for the final automatic promotion place is well and truly on...
14:00, 05 May 2023

So we have arrived at one of the most intense weekends of the sporting calendar. The final day in the Football League. On Monday, League Two will conclude their season and several clubs still have to determine their own fate. In the fourth tier, most of the stress, including the champions and relegation places, have already been determined, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a heap load of drama on the final day.

Here’s what is still to be decided in League Two. 


Key fixtures: 

Tranmere Rovers v Northampton Town

Stockport County v Hartlepool

Leyton Orient have already won the League Two title, while Steve Evans’ Stevenage booked their place in League One after a remarkable season. The final automatic spot has come down to a straight battle between third place Northampton Town (80pts) and Stockport County (78pts). 


Northampton lost in the 94th minute to Bradford last time out and have a worse goal difference than Stockport which means that a point will not be enough at Tranmere, should the Hatters beat already-relegated Hartlepool. Jon Brady deserves huge praise for how he has handled the Cobblers this term and they have been one of the standout teams in the division, but they will be scarred by what happened on the final day last season. 

Brady’s men did what they had to, and beat Barrow 3-1, but they were overhauled in the most improbable circumstances by Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers. The Gas had scored a 95th minute winner the week before to take it to the final day, and then beat Scunthorpe United 7-0 - the exact result they needed to overhaul Northampton on goals scored. 

The Cobblers lost in the play-offs, and will be terrified of losing third place on the final day for the second consecutive season - especially given Stockport should win their game against 23rd placed Hartlepool. However, Northampton’s opponents Tranmere have nothing to play for and have just appointed Ian Dawes as permanent manager - to the dismay of their own fans. 


Key fixtures:

Sutton United v Carlisle United

Salford City v Gillingham

Bradford City v Leyton Orient

Colchester v Mansfield Town

The play-off spots are a little more complex. Carlisle, Salford and Bradford are all tied on 75 points and they know if they avoid defeat they will all secure that all-important top seven finish. That is because Mansfield currently sit three points behind the trio in eighth, ready to capitalise should any of them slip up. However all of this will be irrelevant if Mansfield fail to beat Colchester. Should that happen then the status quo will remain and Carlisle, Bradford and Salford will contest the play-offs along with either Stockport or Northampton, depending on which of those teams gets automatically promoted. 

Goal difference could become key, and you’d think Carlisle are almost there, given Mansfield will need an eight goal swing to overhaul them. However, as we found out last term, stranger things have happened in this bonkers division. 

Simplified - Mansfield have to beat Colchester to have any chance of making the play-offs. If they do, a defeat for Salford or Bradford could see them leapfrog either team, with Carlisle looking out of reach due to their healthy goal difference. Salford face Gillingham, while Bradford have the toughest fixture on paper, at home against champions Leyton Orient. 


Easy one this. Both relegation spots have already been sealed with games to spare as Jeff Sterling’s beloved Hartlepool return to the National League along with bottom club Rochdale. Crawley Town and Wimbledon fans can breathe easy heading into their final fixtures.

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