Notts County & Boreham Wood Set For Lop-Sided Play-Off History

35 points separate the National League sides as they prepare for Sunday's play-off showdown
07:00, 07 May 2023

Notts County meet Boreham Wood in a play-off tie with a difference on Sunday. Never before has an end-of-season knockout clash in one of England’s top five divisions involved two sides who finished the regular season 35 points apart. 

County’s stunning run of form would have seen their 107 points take them sailing into the Football League in any other year, but Wrexham’s incredible 111-point tally ensured that Luke Williams’ side would be consigned to the play-offs. And the nature of the top two’s dominance meant that even third-place Chesterfield ended up coming a distant 23 points behind County when all was said and done.

While Notts’ supremacy over their visitors at Meadow Lane on Sunday is exacerbated by the fact that National League play-offs include six teams rather than the standard four, a similar scenario could be set to develop in League One.

Third-placed Sheffield Wednesday host Derby County this weekend knowing that a victory would take them to 96 points, 20 clear of their opponents who will in all likelihood finish sixth and face Wednesday again next Friday in the play-offs. That would equal a Football League record by pitting together teams finishing 20 points apart, repeating the League One clash between Preston North End and Chesterfield in 2015 after North End’s 89 points had dwarfed the Spireites’ 69.

Here's the full run-down of play-off matches in the top five divisions coming after teams had finished 15 or more points apart.

1990 Third Divison: 18-point gap

3rd: Notts County – 87 points

6th: Bolton Wanderers – 69 points

Notts County won the play-offs

1993 Division Two: 17-point gap

3rd: Port Vale – 89 points

6th: Stockport County – 72 points

Port Vale won the play-offs

1995 Division Three: 16-point gap

3rd: Chesterfield – 81 points

6th – Mansfield Town – 65 points

Chesterfield won the play-offs

1998 Division One: 16-point gap

3rd: Sunderland – 90 points

6th: Sheffield United – 74 points

Sunderland won the semi-final but lost the final to Charlton Athletic

2004 Football Conference: 21-point gap

2nd: Hereford United – 91 points

5th: Aldershot Town – 70 points

Hereford United lost the semi-final, with Shrewsbury Town promoted

2012 League One: 17-point gap

3rd: Sheffield United – 90 points

6th: Stevenage – 73 points

Sheffield United won the semi-final but lost the final to Huddersfield Town 

2012 Football Conference: 17-point gap

2nd: Wrexham – 98 points

5th: Luton Town – 81 points

Wrexham lost the semi-final, with York City promoted 

2015 League One: 20-point gap

3rd: Preston North End – 89 points

6th: Chesterfield – 69 points

Preston North End won the play-offs

2016 Championship: 15-point gap

3rd: Brighton & Hove Albion – 89 points

6th: Sheffield Wednesday – 74 points

Brighton lost the semi-final, with Hull City promoted

2018 League One: 16-point gap

3rd: Shrewsbury Town – 87 points

6th: Charlton Athletic – 71 points

Shrewsbury Town won the semi-final but lost the final to Rotherham United

2019 League One: 15-point gap

3rd: Charlton Athletic – 88 points

6th: Doncaster Rovers – 73 points

Charlton Athletic won the play-offs


Of the 11 previous such encounters, five of the higher-placed teams have been promoted, with three winning the tie but losing in the final and the other three losing at the semi-final stage.

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