As we get ready for the 2021 Sky Bet EFL Play-Off Finals, here are some stats for all three Finals to prepare you for kick-off!
Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final
Brentford v Swansea City
Saturday 29 May
Wembley opens its doors to the 2021 Play-Off Finals with a replay of last season’s intriguing and at times tetchy Sem-Final. Brentford emerged victorious from that tie with a 3-2 aggregate victory over 180 absorbing minutes.
Will the third EFL Championship promotion spot be decided over 90 minutes this time, or perhaps require an extra half-hour and even penalties? With both league fixtures this season ending 1-1, the difference between them promises to be wafer-thin.
Can 32-goal Ivan Toney find a way past a tight Swansea defence in front of keeper Freddie Woodman which kept 20 clean sheets in the regular season? The other end of the pitch will see a battle between wily veterans with Swansea’s Andre Ayew using his mobility to try to out-fox the sturdy Pontus Jansson.
* This is the second consecutive season to see Brentford and Swansea City meet in the Championship Play-Offs, with the London side eliminating the Swans 3-2 on aggregate in last season’s Semi-Final.
* Brentford – who lost 2-1 to Fulham in last season’s Championship Play-Off Final – are the first team to reach consecutive Championship Play-Off Finals since Aston Villa in 2018 and 2019. The only team to lose consecutive second tier Play-Off Finals was Leicester City in 1992 and 1993.
* No team has lost more Football League Play-Off Finals than Brentford (4, level with Reading and Sheffield United). They lost in 1997 to Crewe Alexandra, 2002 to Stoke City, 2013 to Yeovil Town and 2020 to Fulham.
* Brentford are looking to reach the English top-flight for the first time since the 1946-47 season. If they are promoted, it will be 86 years since their last promotion to the top-flight (1934-35), with only Bradford City having a longer gap between top-flight promotions (1908 – 1999, a gap of 91 years).
* Including Play-Offs, Ivan Toney has been directly involved in 42 goals in 47 Championship appearances for Brentford this season (32 goals, 10 assists). Toney’s only previous appearance at Wembley was for Barnsley against Millwall in the 2016 League One Play-Off Final as a substitute, ending on the winning side that day.
* Swansea City striker André Ayew has scored 17 Championship goals this season (including Play-Offs), three more than any other Swans player. Ayew has scored twice previously at Wembley, netting a brace there for West Ham against Spurs in a League Cup match that saw the Hammers come from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final
Blackpool v Lincoln City
Sunday 30 May
A final between the most successful club in EFL Play-Off history against one of the least successful can surely only end one way, or can it? Blackpool go into this contest with history on their side. Eight previous Play-Off appearances have been converted into five promotions, while Lincoln have missed out in all six of their attempts.
Tangerines manager Neil Critchley and his Lincoln counterpart Michael Appleton both know that history cannot accompany their teams onto the Wembley pitch, however. Indeed, Lincoln edged this season’s two meetings, winning 3-2 at Bloomfield Road before a 2-2 draw at Sincil Bank.
The key to the match could be how successful Blackpool’s watertight defence – which kept an astonishing 19 clean sheets in their final 33 matches of the regular season – is in containing Lincoln’s exciting forward line.
* Lincoln City have lost both of their previous Football League Play-Off Finals, losing 5-2 against Bournemouth in 2003 and 2-0 against Southend United in 2005, both in the fourth tier.
* This is Blackpool’s eighth Play-Off Final appearance, at least three more than any other team. They have won promotion five times via the Play-Offs, also the most of any side.
* Lincoln City have only played at Wembley once previously, winning 1-0 against Shrewsbury Town in the EFL Trophy Final in 2018. Their two previous Play-Off Finals were both played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
* Lincoln City are looking to reach the second tier of English football for the first time in 60 years, last playing at that level in 1960-61. They could be the first-ever team to win promotion from the non-league, fourth tier and third tier in the space of five seasons, having won the National League in 2016-17 and League Two in 2018-19.
* Blackpool striker Jerry Yates has been directly involved in 31 goals in 53 appearances this season (23 goals, 8 assists). He has scored three and assisted three in his last four League One matches, netting the Tangerines’ third goal in their 3-3 draw with Oxford United in the second leg of the Semi-Final.
Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final
Morecambe v Newport County
Monday 31 May
The Sky Bet EFL season concludes with a League Two Final that is guaranteed to throw up a feelgood story. Newport last played third tier league football in 1986/87, a season which ended in relegation and began a spiral into bankruptcy and extinction from which, happily, the Exiles have emerged proudly.
They almost made it back two seasons ago, losing this final to Tranmere Rovers through a single goal late in extra-time. Morecambe have never played in League One. Prior to this season’s remarkable feat inspired by manager Derek Adams, the Shrimps had only ever finished in the top half of League Two once in 13 previous campaigns as a Sky Bet EFL club.
The story will no doubt be spiced up by the presence of former Morecambe hero Kevin Ellison among the Newport substitutes.
* Morecambe are looking to reach the third tier of English football for the first time, having played 14 consecutive seasons in League Two since 2007-08. The Shrimps have played more seasons in the Football League without playing higher than the fourth tier than any other side.
* Newport County haven’t won Football League promotion since the 1979-80 season, when they finished third in the fourth tier. The Exiles haven’t played in the third tier since 1986-87 and suffered a 1-0 defeat in the 2018-19 League Two Play-Off Final to Tranmere Rovers in their only previous Plaay-Off Final appearance.
* Morecambe have won their only two previous appearances at Wembley, winning the 1974 FA Trophy final against Dartford and the 2007 Conference Play-Off Final against Exeter City. They are one of only seven club sides to have played more than once at Wembley winning every visit to the National Stadium.
* Morecambe manager Derek Adams is looking for his second promotion from League Two, having led Plymouth Argyle to automatic promotion in 2016-17. However, Adams suffered defeat in his only previous Play-Off Final, losing 2-0 with Argyle against AFC Wimbledon in 2015-16.
* Newport County’s 42-year-old forward Kevin Ellison is the top scoring player in EFL meetings between Morecambe and Newport (7), scoring six times for Morecambe and once for Newport in their 3-1 win over the Shrimps earlier this season; no other player has more than three goals in games between the sides.
* Kevin Ellison’s goal in the Semi-Final second leg also made him the oldest scorer in EFL Play-Off history.