Can Mansfield Town achieve their automatic promotion dream? Full analysis of the permutations with just two games to go

With just two games to go in League Two anything could still happen for Mansfield Town.

Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 2:34 pm

It is so tight that the thrilling finale could still see Nigel Clough's men snatch automatic promotion with a top three finish, end up with a place in the end of season play-offs or miss out altogether.

Forest Green Rovers and Exeter City in the top two places are already promoted but, both locked on 83 points, are now involved in a frantic race for the title after Rovers' recent wobbles saw them lose what looked an almost unassailable lead at the top, taking just five points of the last 15 available.

That leaves six teams battling it out for the other automatic promotion spot and the rest left with the lottery of the play-offs.

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Mansfield Town midfielder George Lapslie celebrates his second half goal against Stevenage. Photo credit : Chris Holloway / The Bigger

Northampton Town currently sit in the box seat in third with 76 points, Port Vale in fourth with 75, Stags on 75 but with a worse goal difference of six to Vale, Bristol Rovers sixth on 74, Sutton United in the last play-off spot on 73 and Swindon Town (71) and Salford City (69) lurking and hoping someone slips up.

Stags have to go to Salford on Monday for a game being covered live in Sky TV before ending the season the following weekend at home to Forest Green.

For Stags and the two sides immediately above them – Northampton and Port Vale – the key lies with Exeter City.

The Grecians have just won six out of their last seven games and are in fine form.

Mansfield Town's John-Joe O'Toole stays strong in defence on Tuesday.

Now the title is tantalisingly beckoning for them, they still have to play both Northampton and Port Vale.

If they can win or even draw those games, which is a huge possibility, those spilled points for the Cobblers and Valiants will let Stags in for a top three finish if they can beat Salford and Forest Green, which Nigel Clough's men are very capable of.

Salford away will be a real tester for Mansfield with City still hoping they can gatecrash the play-offs, though with a four point gap already it is a long shot for them now and would end on Monday if Stags win.

A victory for Mansfield at the Peninsula Stadium on Monday (12.30pm) would at least seal a play-offs spot for them.

Mansfield Town forward Lucas Akins in action against Stevenage. Photo credit : Chris Holloway / The Bigger

Port Vale are at home the same day (3pm) to Newport County, who have missed out this year and have nothing to play for but pride ,while both sides will already know the outcome of Saturday's Northampton v Exeter clash.

That will take us to the final day of the season on Saturday, 7th May when, while Stags take on a Forest Green who may all but have clinched the title by then, Northampton have a tricky last trip away to Barrow and Port Vale face an even bigger test away at Exeter, who could also be challenging for the title that afternoon.

Barrow have beaten Forest Green (4-0) and Sutton United (1-0) in their last two home games and led at Exeter last night before being pipped 2-1.

It could all end up as one of those frantic, thrilling last days of the season with Stags fans watching their side playing Forest Green while keeping a close eye on their phones as to what is happening at Barrow and Exeter.

Midfielder Matthew Longstaff celebrates his late second half clincher. Photo credit : Chris Holloway / The Bigger

Whatever happens, it is a far cry from earlier in the season when Stags were second bottom and without a win in 14 games – a miracle almost.

There have been big twists and turns in the last fortnight and will certainly be more to come in the last two games – and probably throughout that final afternoon – in one of the most competitive League Twos we have seen for some time.

Hold on tight!

Matthew Longstaff nets a late goal against Stevenage. Photo credit : Chris Holloway / The Bigger
George Lapslie celebrates his second half goal. Photo credit : Chris Holloway / The Bigger