John-Joe O’Toole along with Ollie Clarke is on his way to Wembley with Mansfield Town. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Mansfield Town supporters used Bristol Rovers’ promotion heroics to rub salt into the wounds of Northampton Town after their play-off win.
The Cobblers will play in League Two for another season after falling to a 1-0 defeat to the Stags at Sixfields, losing 3-1 on aggregate.
A 32nd minute goal from Stephen McLaughlin consigned the East Midlands side to another year in the fourth tier of English football.
And whilst there was delight on their own behalf to be reaching the Play-Off Final, Mansfield fans reminded Northampton of their shortcomings prior to the end-of-season play-off events.
‘One Bristol Rovers, there’s only one Bristol Rovers’ could be heard from the travelling Mansfield contingent before the full-time whistle was sounded.
It was of course in reference to Northampton falling short to Bristol Rovers on the final day of the season.
For a combined 140 days of the 247 spent in the 2021/22 League Two season, Northampton had occupied an automatic promotion spot.
They were pipped however in the final ten minutes of the season with Rovers winning 7-0 against Scunthorpe United to overturn a five goal deficit with a 3-1 win over Barrow not enough.
It meant that Jon Brady’s side would have to go through the lottery of the play-offs whilst Rovers ended their season after 46 games and ultimately, they fell to Nigel Clough’s Mansfield.
It could mean that former Rovers left-back Ali Koiki is in League Two for another season as despite his first leg goal, his efforts only came in vain. He is out of contract with Northampton though and there has been interest from Portsmouth and Sunderland.
Two former Bristol Rovers players however have earned the chance to play at Wembley in the play-off final, where they await the victor of Port Vale and Ben Garner’s Swindon Town.
Ollie Clarke, an academy product of Rovers, who has captained Mansfield all season and came on as a substitute in the win.
He alongside his fellow midfielder John-Joe O’Toole, who started the game, also played his part in bringing down Northampton.
O’Toole was at Rovers from 2013 to 2014 but suffered relegation to the National League, whilst Clarke was at the Mem as a senior player from 2009 to 2020.
Clarke will be hoping for a repeat of his success with Rovers in the National League play-off final in 2015, when they beat Forest Green on penalties.