The first of the games on the Sky Bet EFL play-off weekends final comes from League Two, where Tom Carnduff is backing Tranmere to go up.
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Newport v Tranmere (Wembley Stadium, 1500 BST, Sky Sports Main Event)
While the attention is usually on the Championship, the real stories of this season’s Sky Bet EFL play-off weekend come from League One and League Two.
The three-day festival of football gets underway with the League Two final, with Tranmere meeting Newport in a battle of sixth v seventh.
This game has already provided us with a 3/1 winning tip in our outright preview of the play-offs as a whole with the two sides reaching Wembley.
Tranmere were the outright tip at a price of above 3/1, they are now the 4/5 favourites to lift the trophy and secure back-to-back promotions.
Any successful team usually requires a goalscorer. Newport have Padraig Amond and Jamille Matt, but Tranmere possess the edge with the prolific James Norwood set to lead the attack.
Norwood can be the difference between the two sides, but that’s not to take away from the quality that Rovers possess in other areas of the pitch.
Manny Monthe brings a presence at the back, while the likes of Connor Jennings and Ollie Banks add the creativity required to give Norwood those goal scoring opportunities.
At a price of 17/10, one of the best bets in this game comes from backing Norwood to continue his fine exploits in front of goal.
It’ll be an interesting to see whichever one of Mickey Demetriou or Regan Poole is put on the duty of battling Norwood in an attempt to keep him quiet.
They had success doing that throughout the season, but watching Norwood throughout the season, and particularly in the semi-finals, he has the ability to break away from the defender to have shots on goal.
Recent Wembley experience should favour Tranmere here and the same can be said for Norwood.
He scored the winner this time last season in the National League play-off final against Boreham Wood and the Rovers faithful will be hoping for the same here.
Norwood is capable, especially after the season he has had. It should be another afternoon to remember for Tranmere, and he can play a part in getting them over the line.
Score prediction: Newport 1-2 Tranmere (Sky Bet odds: 10/1)
Best bet: James Norwood to score anytime at 17/10
- Newport County are unbeaten in four Football League meetings with Tranmere (W1 D3 L0), with their last defeat against Rovers coming in April 1988.
- Tranmere Rovers are participating in their first Football League play-off final since 1991, when they beat Bolton Wanderers at Wembley in the third-tier final that season.
- A victory for Newport County will see them competing in the third-tier of English football for the first time since the 1986-87 season.
- Tranmere are appearing at Wembley in a play-off final for a third consecutive season – they lost the 2017 National League final against Forest Green, before winning 2-1 against Boreham Wood in last season’s National League final to return to the Football League.
- Newport were 11 points from safety in League Two before Michael Flynn’s first game in March 2017 – since his first game in charge, only Exeter City (50) have won more League Two games (inc. play-offs) than the Exiles (43).
- Tranmere’s James Norwood has scored 30 goals in League Two this season (inc. play-offs), the first player to reach that tally since 2012-13 (Tom Pope for Port Vale, 31); Norwood scored the winner for Rovers in last season’s National League play-off final.
- Should Newport reach the third-tier, next season would be the first time three Welsh teams competed in the top three divisions of English football since 1994-95 (Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham), with both Cardiff and Swansea in the Championship next season.
- This is the first League Two play-off final between the sides finishing 6th and 7th since 2012-13, when 7th-placed Bradford City won 3-0 against Northampton Town; the side finishing 7th has been promoted via the League Two play-offs in four of the previous seven seasons.
- Newport’s only win at Wembley was in the 2013 Conference play-off final against Wrexham – they’ve lost 0-2 on both of their other visits, losing to York City in the 2012 FA Trophy final and against Spurs in an FA Cup fourth round replay in 2018.
- If Newport are promoted, they would be only the second team in Football League history to be promoted without scoring more goals than they conceded during the regular league season (GD – 0) after Huddersfield Town in 2016-17, who were promoted from the Championship with a minus two goal difference.
Odds correct at 1725 BST (23/05/19)