Newport County and Mansfield Town will kick off this year's Sky Bet EFL Play-Offs on Thursday 9 May, with what promises to be a memorable clash.
THE KEY DETAILS
The League Two Play-Off Semi-Final first leg will take place at Newport's Rodney Parade at 7:45pm, with live coverage available on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event from 7:30pm. There will also be behind-the-scenes build-up and match coverage via Twitter (@EFL and @SkyBetLeagueTwo), as well as Instagram (@EFL).
As is often the case with the side to have claimed the final Play-Off place, Newport have really built up a head of steam ahead of Thursday's match. A 10-game unbeaten run in the league saw County make a late charge for seventh spot - which they secured on the final day - and means they have momentum on their side going into the first leg on home soil. There will be a contrasting feeling in the Mansfield camp; the Stags will have to pick themselves up after losing at MK Dons last weekend, a result which ultimately saw them miss out on automatic promotion. The defeat doesn't take away from what has been a fantastic campaign, however, for a side that will be favourites to go up at the second attempt.
This will be the 34th meeting between the sides, with the first coming back in December 1937. More recently, this season has seen each team beat the other on home soil - Mansfield beating Newport 3-0 back in August, before a 1-0 victory for County in February. Mansfield striker Danny Rose has scored in all four of his league starts against Newport, finding the net twice at Rodney Parade. At the other end, the Stags have conceded fewer goals than any other League Two side in 2018/19 (41), keeping 18 clean sheets in total. Newport's aforementioned unbeaten run is the longest current run in the division, and they'll be buoyed by the fact that the team finishing seventh has won the Play-Offs in two of the last three seasons.
ONES TO WATCH
Newport will surely look to call on the experience of Padraig Amond on Thursday. The 31-year-old, who received an Ireland call-up in March, has found the net 22 times this season and is no stranger to the pressure of Play-Offs, having won promotion to the EFL with Grimsby via this route three years ago. For Mansfield, Tyler Walker has enjoyed a fine season in front of goal, and is sure to be one of his side's biggest threats on the night, should he feature. The on-loan Nottingham Forest man is the Stags' top scorer in 2018/19 with 25 goals, including one against Newport back in August. At just 22 years of age,
Michael Flynn, Newport manager: "It’s going to be a very tough tie. Mansfield are a very good team full of good players, so we’ll have to be at our best on Thursday then Sunday. They’re a fantastic group of players and whatever happens now, it’s been a fantastic season. But we’re going into those play-offs trying to win them."
David Flitcroft, Mansfield manager: "Newport have had a fantastic season, and Flynny has done an unbelievable job. But we have the opportunity to go there now after the season has finished and carry on what we’ve been doing well this season. A lot will be made of the form, but we’ve set the right mood and there’s a real fight amongst this group of players."
ELSEWHERE THIS WEEK
The other League Two Semi-Final first leg will see Tranmere Rovers take on Forest Green Rovers at Prenton Park on Friday evening (kick-off 7:45pm).