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      Crawley, Crewe, Donny & MK pushing for promotion

      L2 playoff preview

      2024/05/01 17:50

      Stockport County, Wrexham and Mansfield Town had already had their promotions to League One confirmed well in advance of the final day of the regular season in League Two but there was still drama to be had in the promotion race as Barrow, somehow, completed their capitulation and slipped out of the top seven.

      Crawley Town were the beneficiaries from the Cumbrians’ demise and they have joined Milton Keynes Dons, Doncaster Rovers and Crewe Alexandra in the four-way fight to get up and into the third-tier of English football.

      Playoff football is not for the feint hearted and is often cruel for those involved, both on and off the pitch, however, for the neutral, it can often be the highlight of the season so here is our preview and profile of all four teams in this season’s League Two playoffs.


      This season: 7th

      Last season: 22nd 

      Manager: Scott Lindsay

      Captain: Ben Gladwin

      Trips to Wembley: 0

      Playoff past: 0 promotions in 0 attempts

      @Getty /

      We cannot preview Crawley Town being in the playoffs without touching on their ownership group, WAGMI United, who have been extremely controversial owners of the club since their takeover but a backseat appears to have been taken and that has allowed the Red Devils to drastically improve on the pitch after narrowly avoiding relegation to the National League last year. With the promising Scott Lindsey at the helm, Crawley will already view this season as success.

      Crawley finished the campaign with a 2-0 defeat of Grimsby Town at the Broadfield Stadium to leapfrog Barrow with the stuttering Cumbrians collapsing at the end of the season. Crawley, on the other hand, suffered just three defeats in their final 12 matches with one of those coming against automatically promoted Wrexham and another against fellow playoff rivals Doncaster Rovers back at the start of Rovers’ remarkable run. 


      This season: 6th 

      Last season: 13th 

      Manager: Lee Bell

      Captain: Luke Offord

      Trips to Wembley: 3 (League One playoff final 1997, League Two playoff final 2012, EFL Trophy final 2013)

      Playoff past: 2 promotions in 6 attempts (League Two semi-finalists 1992, League Two semi-finalists 1993, League One semi-finalists 1995, League One semi-finalists 1996, League One winners 1997, League Two winners 2012)

      Jumping around League One and League Two is perhaps where Crewe Alexandra naturally belong and that is exactly what the Railwaymen will be hoping to achieve this season. Under the management of Lee Bell, another impressive crop of players have come through at Gresty Road and they were in contention for a top three finish and automatic promotion for much of the campaign but slowly slipped away and eventually only confirmed a playoff spot on the final day.

      Crewe head into their semi-finals with the in-form team in League Two, Doncaster Rovers, on the back of a 1-1 draw with relegation-threatened Colchester United on the final day, following on from back-to-back losses against Wrexham, already promoted, and Grimsby Town, also in danger. That means they finished the 2023/24 League Two campaign with just one win in nine and two wins in their final 12 matches. 

      @Getty /


      This season: 5th 

      Last season: 18th 

      Manager: Grant McCann

      Captain: Richie Wood

      Trips to Wembley: 1 (League One playoff final 2008)

      Playoff past: 2 promotions from 3 attempts (National League winners 2003, League One winners 2008, League Two semi-finalists 2019)

      @Getty /

      Towards the beginning of March, Doncaster Rovers lay 20th in the League Two table and were preparing to simply push themselves away from the bottom two and the relegation places. However the South Yorkshire, sticking by Grant McCann, went on a ten-match winning streak by the end of April, which saw them propel themselves into fifth place and guaranteeing a home second-leg in the semi-finals of this season’s playoffs.

      They did finish the season with their ten-match winning streak coming to an end as a 2-2 draw against Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium was enough to see them mathematically secure fifth spot. They had led 2-0 in that match before being reduced to ten men early on in the second-half. It is an experienced squad, captained by former Rotherham United defender Richie Wood, and they are very much the form team. 


      This season: 4th 

      Last season: 21st (relegated from L1)

      Manager: Mike Williamson

      Captain: Dean Lewington

      Trips to Wembley: 1 (EFL Trophy final 2008)

      Playoff past: 0 promotions in 5 attempts (League Two semi-finalists 2007, League One semi-finalists 2009, League One semi-finalists 2011, League One semi-finalists 2012, League One semi-finalists 2022)

      Following their relegation from League One last season, there was an expectation that Milton Keynes Dons would spend the campaign battling for promotion as a title contender but they started ever so slowly before Graham Alexander was replaced by former Newcastle United defender and impressive young coach, Mike Williamson, playing in the recent traditions of MK Dons by being easy on the eye and attack-minded first and foremost.

      MK Dons seemed like they were going to steamroller their way into the top three and the automatic promotion spots but eventually faded away before the end of the campaign, settling for fourth spot. They went into the end of the regular season on the back of a thrilling 4-4 draw with eventually relegated Sutton United. That result means their last eight League Two matches consisted of a combined total of 43 goals. 



      Playmaker’s prediction… MK Dons beat Doncaster at Wembley

      The first semi-final features two of the youngest sides in terms of their EFL history as Milton Keynes Dons and Crawley Town do battle. MK Dons have only ever played at Wembley once, whilst Crawley are yet to go to English football’s headquarters – with neither team having ever won a playoff tournament and this being Crawley’s first ever. Crawley have overperformed to reach this stage whilst MK Dons will believe they have the potential to challenge higher up in even League One. The other semi is a lot more even and could be really intriguing as Doncaster face Crewe. The biggest factor in that semi-final simply has to revolve around the form of both sides with Doncaster’s the best in the league and Crewe struggling. MK Dons facing off against Donny at Wembley seems a good chance with the sheer quality of MK Dons’ play on the massive pitch potentially the deciding factor.


      Monday 6th May | 15:00 | Crawley Town vs Milton Keynes Dons

      Monday 6th May | 17:30 | Crewe Alexandra vs Doncaster Rovers

      Thursday 9th May | 20:00 | Milton Keynes Dons vs Crawley Town

      Friday 10th May | 20:00 | Doncaster Rovers vs Milton Keynes Dons

      Sunday 19th May | TBD | Wembley Stadium 


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      2024-05-01 19h28m by mfosterfield
      As a football fan, I can't believe Barrow's collapse in the promotion race. But congratulations to Crawley Town for taking advantage and securing a spot in the playoffs. It's going to be a thrilling and nerve-wracking battle between them, Milton Keynes Dons, Doncaster Rovers, and Crewe Alexandra. Playoff football is always intense and unpredictable, but for us neutrals, it's the most exciting part of the season. Good luck to all four teams!
      2024-05-01 18h50m by edavidson
      As a football fan, I'm feeling so disillusioned by Barrow's slip out of the top seven. But good for Crawley Town for taking advantage and joining the fight for promotion with Milton Keynes Dons, Doncaster Rovers and Crewe Alexandra. Playoff football is always intense and unpredictable, but as a neutral, I can't wait for the drama to unfold.
      2024-05-01 18h18m by ocollinsworth
      As a football fan, it's heartbreaking to see Barrow slip out of the top seven and miss out on promotion. But congratulations to Crawley Town for making it into the playoffs. It's going to be an intense and nerve-wracking battle for all four teams, but that's what makes playoff football so exciting! Can't wait for the drama to unfold.


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