STREAM HERE >>> Mansfield vs Northampton free stream online Football League Two Playoff Semi Final Full HD
Heading into the final day of the season, the odds were stacked in Northampton’s favour when it came to finishing in the top three, there needing to be a five-goal swing in terms of goal difference for Bristol Rovers to claim the final automatic spot.
When Northampton scored three times in the opening 21 minutes against Barrow, it felt like the job was done, but as the goals dried up for the Cobblers, Bristol Rovers got on the scoresheet with regularity against Scunthorpe United.
Barrow’s goal just before half time proved decisive, a 3-1 win for Northampton not being enough as Rovers put seven past the bottom-placed team, and it leaves Jon Brady and his squad having to contend with the playoffs.
After three defeats came from five games during March and April, Northampton cannot feel too hard done-by, although they ended the campaign with 14 points from their final six games.
While Brady will see that as a huge positive heading into Saturday’s fixture, he knows that he has work to do in the build-up to keep his squad on track for a return to the third tier.
The same can be said for Nigel Clough and his Mansfield side, who know that wins from their final two fixtures would have been enough for automatic promotion.
Although neither of their games versus Salford City and champions Forest Green Rovers could be claimed to be easy, Mansfield held second-half leads in each contest.
Like Northampton, a run of defeats before the final few fixtures is what ultimately proved pivotal, meaning that eight points from their concluding four outings was not enough.
Clough may be prepared to stick with the Mansfield XI which claimed a 2-2 draw at home to Forest Green on the final day of the season.
However, Elliott Hewitt, who has made 40 league starts this season, is an option at right-back ahead of James Perch.
Jamie Murphy is expected to retain his spot behind the front two ahead of George Lapslie.
Northampton will be forced into at least one alteration after goalkeeper Liam Roberts, an ever-present this campaign, was sent off in the final minutes at Barrow.
Jon Maxted, who has not made a senior appearance since an EFL Trophy game in October, will deputise between the sticks.
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Brady could retain the same outfield players for this contest after Northampton extended their unbeaten streak to six games.
Mansfield Town possible starting lineup:
Bishop; Perch, O’Toole, Hawkins, McLaughlin; Longstaff, Maris, Quinn; Murphy; Oates, Bowery
Northampton Town possible starting lineup:
Maxted; Mills, Horsfall, Guthrie; Felix-Eppiah, McWilliams, Sowerby, Koiki; Pinnock; Appere, Hoskins