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Sporting Life preview - League Two Play-off semi finals

Sporting Life’s Tom Carnduff takes a look at the semi-final ties in Sky Bet League Two...

9 May 2019

The Sky Bet EFL play-offs are here with 12 teams all holding aspirations of achieving promotion. Sporting Life’s Tom Carnduff takes a look at the semi-final ties in Sky Bet League Two...

While history shouldn't be looked into with great detail when deciding a play-off winner, it does show us how the League Two competition is usually the most open.

The phrase you hear the most around the time of the play-offs is that it's a "lottery". To some extent it is, but form and consistency across the season play a bigger part, although this division has proven to support the above cliché.

The final day decided who would finish fourth and who would come in seventh. Newport County managed to snatch that last spot with a late tap-in from Jamille Matt, while Mansfield Town were beaten by MK Dons, who leapfrogged them into the automatic promotion spots.

It is the opposite of the other divisions here, with those who finish the lowest of the four teams having the better chance of success.

In the last 14 finals, the team who have ended in 7th have won on five occasions. Most recently that was Blackpool in 2017 and then AFC Wimbledon the season before that.

It is then a straight split between the other three positions. In the remaining nine finals, it's worked out that three teams in each position has ended up with promotion.

You have to go back to Fleetwood in 2014 for the last side to finish in fourth and get promoted. While we often see the top seed in the final in the Championship, it's common that they don't make it to Wembley in League Two.

There are obviously the five teams who were beaten along the way by those in seventh. They are joined by Shrewsbury (2011), Bury (2009) and MK Dons (2007) as being the eight fourth-placed teams not to reach the final.

That will give Newport County fans some optimism - although it highlights just how much of a lottery the League Two play-offs typically are.

Probability of success based on recent history:
Newport County (7th - 5/15)
Forest Green Rovers (5th - 3/15)
Tranmere Rovers (6th - 3/15)
Mansfield Town (4th - 3/15)

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