League Two play-offs: Four former winners vie for promotion
Plymouth Argyle (1996), Southend United (2005), Stevenage (2011) and Wycombe Wanderers (1994) have all had previously successful play-off campaigns in the fourth tier, which makes this term’s end of season competition all the more compelling.
Coral make Phil Brown, who famously went up to the Premier League with Hull City via this method, and the Shrimpers 19/10 favourites to be promoted, and they meet Marmite character Graham Westley’s Stevenage (7/2 outsiders) in their semi.
The Pirates (11/4 to go up) play Wanderers, 3/1 shots under QPR and Lincoln City legend Gareth Ainsworth. Here, our Football League expert previews the two semi-final first legs:
Plymouth v Wycombe
Away sides have fared very well in this fixture recently, triumphing in each of the last five. Wanderers are 11/5 to keep that pattern going, and look brilliant value as they boasted the best away record (W13, D8, L2) during the regular season.
Wycombe top scorer Paul Hayes grabbed the winner at Home Park back in September and is 7/4 to strike again anytime. While Ainsorth has relied upon one frontman to spearhead his campaign, Plymouth (odds-on 4/5 favourites to reach Wembley) have two attackers in double figures.
John Sheridan was smart enough to rest leading marksman Reuben Reid and Lewis Alessandra last time out. Top scorer on 20, Reid is 6/5 in the anytime market and 9/2 to strike first. Alessandra, meanwhile, who got the winner against Tranmere Rovers last time out at home and has also netted at Adams Park looks slightly batter value at 6/4 to strike for 6/5 first leg favourites Argyle.
Stevenage v Southend
Conversely to the above, three of the four league meetings between these two have been won by the hosts. Westley’s team are 6/4 first leg favourites, but 5/4 outsiders to qualify from the tie.
Brown’s boys are odds-on at 8/13 to be at Wembley, but the Shrimpers are 9/5 to take a lead back to Roots Hall. Southend do have an ace up their sleeve in Barry Corr, who loves scoring against Stevenage. He has three in four against them, and is superb value at 7/4 in the anytime market to add to that tally.
Home side leading marksman Charlie Lee is also worth a punt at 11/4, while a first leg draw between these sides comes in at 9/4. Calvin Zola, meanwhile, has a perfect two goals in as many previous play-off appearances, so must be considered if involved at 2/1 anytime.