League Two Play-off Final Preview: Plymouth and Wimbledon set to do battle for Wembley promotion

Plymouth Argyle and AFC Wimbledon will meet at Wembley on Bank Holiday Monday for a place in League One next season

League Two Play-off Final Preview: Plymouth and Wimbledon set to do battle for Wembley promotion
AFC Wimbledon and Plymouth Argyle will meet in the League Two play-off final at Wembley (image via: Dave Rowntree)

Plymouth Argyle and AFC Wimbledon will meet in the final Football League match of the season, when they battle for promotion in the League Two play-off final at Wembley

Argyle finished the league season in fifth place, before overcoming Portsmouth 3-2 in their play-off semi-final. Following a 2-2 draw at Fratton Park in the first leg, an injury-time winner from centre-back Peter Hartley at Home Park saw Plymouth book their first date at the new Wembley. 

Hiram Boateng and Jamille Matt celebrate a goal in the playoff victory over Portsmouth (image via: guardian.com)

Wimbledon booked their spot in the final after overcoming Accrington Stanley in their semi. A 1-0 win at home in the first leg gave Wimbledon control of the tie, before they then found themselves 2-1 down on aggregate after an hour of the second leg at the Crown Ground. Adebayo Akinfenwa's goal sent the tie to extra-time, with Lyle Taylor then scoring what turned out to be the winner in the 104th minute. 

Argyle looking for promotion following tough decade

As an established Championship club from 2004-2010, all came crashing down at Home Park, when the Devon club suffered back-to-back relegations to League Two alongside a string of financial issues which nearly ended the club's existence.

Stuck in League Two, Argyle narrowly avoided relegation in 2011-12 & 2012-13 after finishing 21st both seasons, before an ascent up the league and a balancing of the books started to bring renewed hope. 

A top-half finish in 2013-14 was followed a play-off semi-final defeat to Wycombe the following season under John Sheridan. Scottish manager Derek Adams took over in the Summer, and has done a good job in managing to guide Argyle to Wembley following last season's heartbreak. 

Derek Adams, manager of Plymouth Argyle (image via: plymouthherald.co.uk)

They spent much of the season in the automatic promotion spots before dropping off after Easter, and now find themselves just 90 minutes from a promotion which will make up for all the years of struggle. 

AFC Wimbledon hoping to continue meteoric rise

Founded in 2002 after the relocation of the original Wimbledon F.C. to Milton Keynes, AFC Wimbledon are aiming for their sixth promotion in 14 seasons as a 'phoenix' club. 

Having started off in the Combined Counties League Premier Division 14 years ago, they came through five different non-league divisions before gaining promotion to League Two back in 2010-11 via the playoffs. 

Neal Ardley has seen a huge turnaround as Wimbledon manager (image via: getwestlondon.co.uk)

The Dons then finished 16th, 20th, 20th and 15th in their first four seasons in the Football League's bottom division before Neal Ardley led them to seventh this time around and a date with destiny on Bank Holiday Monday. 

A mid-table finish was looking likely once more at the end of March, before Ardley's men won six of their final eight league fixtures, securing the final spot in the play-offs and then knocking out Accrington to head to Wembley high on confidence. 

Teams share spoils during season ahead of Wembley date

The two meetings between the sides this season saw the away team prevail on each occassion, with Wimbledon having won the most recent tussle at Home Park in April. 

A 2-1 win for Ardley's men during their five-match winning run came thanks to goals from Taylor and Akinfenwa, with the winner coming in the 88th minute thanks to the man they call 'The Beast'.

Adebayo Akinfenwa celebrates his winner at Home Park in March when the sides last met (image via: newslocker.com)

Ironically, these two teams started their seasons against one another, and will end their seasons playing the same opposition. 

A 2-0 victory on the opening day for Argyle was given to them via goals from Graham Carey and Gregg Wylde, who have both proven to be astute signings from Adams and will be crucial to Plymouth's chances at Wembley.