What Bristol Rovers need to do and hope happens to Northampton and rivals to win promotion from League Two

The title and automatic promotion picture has yet to be decided in League Two, making for a tense final day for Bristol Rovers, Northampton Town, Mansfield Town and Port Vale

The League Two automatic promotion and play-off picture remains as unclear as ever after the penultimate round of fixtures with seven teams fate still undecided.

Bristol Rovers after a dramatic comeback in Rochdale, which saw them come from 3-1 down to win 4-3 in stoppage time, kept themselves in with an outside chance.

A solitary goal from Sam Finley and a Aaron Collins’ hat-trick at the very least secured a play-off spot which could see their season extend to a further three games.

There is a hope however that they can still end their season next Saturday, however it is out of their own hands barring a huge goal swing.

Northampton Town, Rovers, Mansfield Town and Port Vale all have a chance of joining Exeter City and Forest Green Rovers in League One next season.

Sutton United and Tranmere Rovers meanwhile can still qualify for the play-offs which could see anyone from fifth lose their spot and be replaced by the chasing pack.

Here is what needs to happen for each team to secure automatic promotion and the potential play-off picture.

Northampton Town are in the driving seat for an automatic spot. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Northampton Town are in the driving seat for an automatic spot. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Northampton Town are in the driving seat for an automatic spot. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

3rd: Northampton Town

Position: 3rd, 77 points, +20 goal difference, Goals For: 57, Goals Against: 20

Final fixture - 21st-placed Barrow (A)

What they need to do: Fate is in the hands of the Cobblers who just need to win at Barrow to be promoted. There is the potential perhaps that Rovers could overtake them should Northampton only win narrowly and the Gas put more than six on the basement side.

A draw or loss for Northampton would open the door for the likes of Rovers, Mansfield and Port Vale to overtake them.

4th: Bristol Rovers

Current position: 4th, 77 pts, +15 goal difference

Final fixture - 24th-placed Scunthorpe United (H)

What they need to do: This is the most favourable fixture possible for any team. A home match where you’re unbeaten in 2022 against the worst team in the league, with the worst away record in the division.

Rovers need to overturn a five goal swing against Northampton, all it takes is for the Cobblers to win by a goal and Joey Barton’s side to cook up a goal fest against the basement side. If for example Northampton won 1-0 and Rovers won 6-0 then it’d be enough as Rovers have scored more goals.

Even if it isn’t enough for Rovers in fourth, they would earn a home match for the second leg of the League Two play-offs if they won.

An unlikely dropping of points could see them finish as low as seventh but that would also be dependent on results elsewhere.

5th: Mansfield Town

Current position: 5th, 76 pts, +15 goal difference

Final fixture: 2nd-placed Forest Green Rovers (H)

What they need to do: Nigel Clough has already dismissed the Stags’ hopes of automatic promotion.

A 2-2 draw with Salford City left them third in line for that third-placed spot and has instead turned their aim to getting the point required to qualify for the play-offs.

They take on a stumbling Forest Green, who at one point looked certain to be champions, but now they go into the day in second, hopeful of an Exeter City slip up.

Even if Mansfield do win, they’ll have to hope that both Northampton and Bristol Rovers can slip up, but given the opposition both have and who they face, it is unlikely though stranger things have happened.

A failure to get a point out of this match could be disastrous as it could open the door to the chasing pack behind them to take those final play-off spots, with their position not yet secure.

6th: Port Vale

Current position: 6th, 75 points, +20, goal difference

Final fixture: 1st-placed Exeter City (A)

What they need to do: Arguably the hardest opposition of the lot and one of the most at risk of losing a play-off spot.

Vale a few weeks ago before their match on Easter Monday looked good for the promotion spots but after losing to the Gas, two more defeats have followed and now the picture isn’t so clear for them.

A win is a must whilst there will be a hope that Northampton Rovers and Mansfield all drop points, which would be a strange sequence of results.

First though they must at least secure a play-off spot which is easier said than done when you’re playing the league leaders who need a positive result to hold top spot.

A point perhaps would be enough for them to secure a top seven spot even if Sutton United and Tranmere won their games.

7th: Swindon Town

Current position: 7th, 74 points, +20 goal difference

Final fixture: 15th-placed Walsall (A)

What they need to do: The last team capable of winning automatic promotion is Swindon who are extremely unlikely to move up four places on the final day.

Rovers, Northampton must lose and then they would have to hope Mansfield and Port Vale drop points.

It would be very unlikely that would happen and a play-off spot is what Swindon will likely be aiming for.

A positive result against Walsall isn’t too much of an ask so should they win there then they’d likely be in the end of season play-offs, potentially against Rovers.

The play-off picture

8th: Sutton United

Current position: 8th, 73 points, +14 goal difference

Final fixture: 17th-placed Harrogate (A)

What they need to do: There’s no chance of automatic promotion for Sutton, who are four points behind Northampton, which makes them uncatchable.

They are of interest to Rovers though as they could be one of the teams they could face in the play-offs.

A win against Harrogate would go a long way into securing a spot, but they will need Swindon to drop points at Walsall or either Vale or Mansfield lose.

9th: Tranmere Rovers

Current position: 9th, 72 points, +12 goal difference

Final fixture: 13th-placed Leyton Orient (A)

What they need to do: Another team out of the reckoning of an automatic promotion spot and a play-off is unlikely too.

They’d need to beat Orient at Brisbane Road, Swindon lose and Sutton fail to pick up any points at Harrogate.

If League Two finished today:

As it stands, Bristol Rovers would be playing against Ben Garner’s Swindon Town in the League Two play-offs, missing out on the automatics on goal difference.

They would face the Robins at the County Ground in the first leg on Saturday, 15th May at 19:45.

A return leg would then follow at the Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, 18th May at 19:45.

In the other play-off, it would be Mansfield Town v Port Vale, with the winner of that facing the winner of Rovers v Swindon at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, 28th May.