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The Battle Is On For Remaining League One and Two Promotion Places

Saturday 18th May 2013
It is that time of year again as four teams prepare for this weekend's League One and League Two play-off finals at Wembley. After a long and gruelling season of 46 league matches plus two legs of the play off semi finals, it all comes down to one final match, which will end in ecstasy for the winners and absolute agony for the losers.

Bradford and Northampton kick things off on the Saturday, whilst Brentford and Yeovil clash on the Sunday to win the last of the promotion places up for grabs in League One and League Two.

League One Final: Brentford v Yeovil Town - Sunday 19th May (13:30)

Brentford and Yeovil go head-to-head on Sunday for the chance to win promotion up to the Championship. The Bees head into the match as the 13/10 favourites to win in 90 minutes, while Yeovil are 12/5 to reach the highest peak in the football pyramid in the club's 118 year history and just 10 years after entering the Football League. There's certainly not much between the two sides on paper and it would be no surprise if the game went into extra-time before being decided on penalties.

Brentford will be desperate to win promotion following the dramatic events of the last couple of weeks. In the final minute of their final match of the season, Uwe Rosler's side had the opportunity to secure an automatic promotion spot after being awarded a last-gasp penalty. However, much to the despair of their supporters, Marcello Trotta smashed the spot-kick against the bar. Seconds later, despair turned into pure and utter shock as their opponents Doncaster (who needed a point to secure promotion and a win to claim the title) stormed up the other end of the pitch and snatched the winner in true "Roy of the Rovers" style.

The Bees were left crushed but boss, Rosler, picked up his troops and led them to an electrifying win over Swindon in the play-offs. Following a 1-1 draw away to the Robins in the first-leg, Brentford steamed into a 3-1 lead at home, only to throw it away and draw 4-4 on aggregate after extra-time. However, they regained their nerve and booked their place at Wembley courtesy of a 5-4 win on penalties.

Meanwhile, Yeovil finished the season two points behind Brentford in fourth place. Earlier in the campaign they'd lost six matches on the trot but bounced back at the start of the year with six successive wins to propel them in to promotion contention. The Glovers faced the tough task of Sheffield United in the play-off semi-finals but despite losing the first-leg, they 'blunted' the Blades 2-0 in the return leg, with Ed Upson powering in a late header to send the Huish Park faithful into raptures.

Yeovil manager, Gary Johnson, is no stranger to promotion having twice led the Somerset club to automatic promotion (to League Two and League One). However, he has also experienced play-off heartache with Bristol City having lost to Hull in the Championship play-off final back in 2008.

His side have twice beaten the Bees this season; a 3-1 win at Griffin Park and a 3-0 victory at home. Sunday's opponents Brentford are without a win in five matches (excluding penalties), although they have only lost one of those games, suggesting that a draw could be the most likely outcome.

The match pits together the league's leading two goalscorers, with Yeovil's Paddy Madden on 23, followed by Brentford's Clayton Donaldson who has amassed 20 goals to date. Both strikers are available at 5/1 to open the scoring and both team's will be looking towards their star strikers to fire them in to the Championship.

League Two Final: Bradford City v Northampton Town - Saturday 18th May (13:30)

Bradford and Northampton take centre stage on Saturday in the marvellous confines of Wembley Stadium as they bid to win promotion to League Two.

This will remarkably be the fifth time that the teams have met each other this season. So far, Bradford have recorded two 1-0 wins in the league, while the teams played out a 1-1 draw at Sixfields in the FA Cup, followed by a thrilling 3-3 draw after extra-time in the replay, with Bradford winning 4-2 on penalties. With this in mind, Bradford are the 13/10 favourites to win in normal time, while Northampton can be backed at 2/1, with the draw a 23/10 chance.

Bradford have enjoyed an impressive season to date. Back in February they went all the way through to the Capital One Cup Final, beating the likes of Arsenal and Aston Villa on the way to Wembley and whilst a 5-0 defeat against Swansea will be one Bantam fans will want to forget, that experience could prove crucial on Saturday afternoon. The Yorkshire side have managed to keep the momentum going and secured their place in the play-offs in the penultimate game of the season with a 1-0 against Burton. Ironically they then came up against the Brewers in the play-off semi-finals, winning a thrilling two-legged encounter 5-4 on aggregate.

Northampton secured their play-off spot a month ago following a dramatic 2-2 draw away to champions Port Vale. They went on to record back-to-back 1-0 victories against Cheltenham to book their place in the winner takes all clash.

The Cobblers head into the match on the back of three consecutive wins, in which they have failed to concede a goal. They haven't beaten Bradford in the last seven meetings but will be hoping the magic of Wembley can inspire them to victory on this occasion but the trends all point towards Phil Parkinson guiding Bradford back to League One for the first time since 2007, quite remarkable when you think the club enjoyed two seasons in the Premier League at the turn of the Millennium.

 
Jack Kitson
Massive Southampton fan, loving being back in the Premier League but cannot get enough football to feed my addiction.

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