League Two play-off predictions: Ties finely balanced ahead of second legs

Daniel Childs
LiveScore
18/05/202216:00
Nigel Clough's Mansfield are looking to build on their first-leg advantage
Nigel Clough's Mansfield are looking to build on their first-leg advantage

Both League Two play-off semi-finals are finely balanced after Mansfield and Swindon registered 2-1 home victories over Northampton and Port Vale.

The Cobblers need to find a response after tasting defeat for the first time in seven games and a longer-term malaise must be addressed by Vale, who have lost four of their last five fixtures.

Northampton vs Mansfield predictions

Northampton scored a well-deserved second-half goal in last Saturday's 2-1 loss at Mansfield and they can continue their revival by winning the second leg at Sixfields. 

It will be a tall order for the Cobblers to turn the tie around completely and advance without needing extra-time or penalties but they should at the very least ensure a tough night for the Stags, who have been inconsistent on their travels. 

The hosts experienced an extremely painful end to the season when missing out on automatic promotion on goals scored after rivals Bristol Rovers won 7-0 against Scunthorpe. 

It was a tough task for boss Jon Brady to lift his players and there was probably a lingering hangover at the start of the play-off semi-final which assisted Mansfield in establishing a 2-0 half-time lead. 

Northampton were much better after the break and Ali Koiki's 61st-minute goal was the very least their efforts merited. 

However, the Cobblers are back in the tie and Nigel Clough's outfit could be feeling a little nervous after their shaky second-half showing. 

The visitors took just one point from eight away matches against the top nine teams in League Two, including a 2-0 loss to Northampton in October. 

The Stags seem to find it difficult when faced with the toughest of away assignments and may fall to defeat.

Port Vale vs Swindon predictions

Harry McKirdy could be Swindon's key man against Port Vale
Harry McKirdy could be Swindon's key man against Port Vale

Swindon extended their winning run to five games by defeating Port Vale 2-1 at the County Ground on Sunday and they now just need to avoid defeat in the return match in the Potteries to book their place at Wembley.

The Robins are one of the most attractive fourth-tier teams to watch when playing at their best and there was a swagger about their performance for large parts of the first leg. 

Ben Garner's side were drawn into more of a battle in the final 20 minutes and the sense of disappointment among the home faithful was obvious after James Wilson's late goal dragged Vale back into the tie. 

Normally a single-goal loss in the away leg would be no big deal but Vale know that they are still in the position of having to chase the game against one of the best passing teams in the division. 

Swindon's slick style has contributed to them building the best away record in League Two and they carry a huge threat thanks to the pace and quality of their 22-goal top scorer Harry McKirdy. 

A double from the ex-Vale man was the difference in the first leg and the 25-year-old's quality can ensure that Swindon get the result they need to advance. 

Darrell Clarke's Vale are strong at home and will present a tough, physical test but they may fall just short of the victory they require and allow the away side to edge through with a draw.

Tags

League TwoMansfieldSwindonNorthamptonPort Vale
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