The final promotion spot to Sky Bet League One will be decided this coming Monday, May 31 at 15:00 BST, as Newport County and Morecambe lock horns in the Sky Bet League Two play-off final.
This is Derek Adams' Shrimps first visit to Wembley Stadium since the 2006/07 season, when the Lancashire based side defeated Exeter City 2-1 in the final to gain promotion to the Football League, finally escaping the Conference Premier.
Their opponents, the Exiles, have never had the joy of winning a play-off final at Wembley Stadium, but were most recently involved in the 2018/19 season when ultimately suffering defeat at the hands of Tranmere Rovers.
Morecambe are currently at the highest point in their clubs history, having never reached a finish this high in the League Two table, so promotion on Monday would mark uncharted territory for the Shrimps.
Newport are more familiar with their surroundings, having reached the play-off final as recent as two years ago and playing as high as the second division in 1946, but Michael Flynn’s side have never had the pleasure of playing League One football.
Newport will have an almost fully fit squad for their big day out, with the return of Joss Labadie and Priestley Farquharson throughout the play-offs.
However, Dom Telford and David Longe-King will be hoping to force their way back onto the bench for the final after recent struggles with fitness.
Kevin Ellison and Padraig Amond will be expected to start against their former employers.
Morecambe on the other hand struggle with a few more casualties, with Stephen Hendrie (knee) limping off at half-time following the Shrimps’ second leg at Tranmere.
This could spell good news for Kelvin Mellor, who finishes his three match suspension he sustained against Bolton Wanderers and allows the former Blackpool full-back back into contention.
Liam McAlinden, Brad Lyons and Aaron Wildig all faced late fitness tests for the play-offs, but should have regained full fitness for Monday.
Newport County (5-3-2): King; Lewis, Shephard, Bennett, Demetriou, Haynes; Dolan, Sheehan, Ellison; Amond, Collins.
Morecambe (4-1-4-1): Letheren; Cooney, Lavelle, Knight-Percival, Gibson; Songo’o; McAlinden, Diagouraga, Wildig, Mendes; Stockton.
Ones to watch
The star of Newport’s second leg heroics and a man looking to repay the faith placed in him by Flynn, Ellison will have all eyes on him if he is to start on Monday.
The 42-year-old midfielder became the oldest ever play-off goal scorer on Sunday following his audacious strike against Luke McGee, but the main focus will be on his established rivalry with Adams. Ellison made 391 appearances for Morecambe before Adams opted to release him, which promoted Ellison to celebrate and jeer in his former managers face earlier in the season. The rivalry will come to a swift conclusion on Monday, with the winner taking bragging rights, and a celebratory medal home with them.
Due to his impressive performances and goal scoring record, Stockton has received interest from a number of high-profile League One and Two sides in recent weeks.
The prolific frontman is in the prime of his career, having netted 13 goals and four assists in 40 games this season, and has quickly become one of the most feared strikers in the division. Whether if it’s for his dominant displays or his ferocious shot, Stockton links up cleverly with McAlinden, who in himself managed a goal and two assists in the play-offs, and Carlos Mendes Gomes, prompting one of the most dangerous front three’s in League Two.
Newport County: W4 D4 L2
Morecambe: W6 D2 L2
The concerning news for Morecambe fans is that they’ve only managed to beat their counterparts just once in their previous seven matches. Last time out, Newport managed to complete the double this season over the Shrimps, with a solid 3-1 victory, as goals from Josh Sheehan, Matt Dolan and Ellison cancelled out Yann Songo’o’s twentieth minute strike.
Newport manager Flynn spoke on his side’s advancement to the final, and getting over the heartbreak of their previous defeat at Wembley, he said:
“Being from the area, I know too well what it means to the people. If I was the one to be able to get them to League one, there wouldn’t be a prouder man in Newport than me.
“It means everything to me, my wife, my family and my friends. My wife has been there before with my kids and I’ve had all the tears. She’s had to pick me up but she doesn’t want to feel like that again and I don’t want her feeling like that again.
“It’s been positive all the way and the only thing missing out of the whole lot is a promotion - that’s what we want more than anything. When we there last time there were no nerves, it was a very tight encounter and we should’ve had a penalty, but we didn’t get one. We conceded in the last minute of extra-time and it was nothing to do with the occasion getting the better of us. I’m confident that the boys will be fine and hopefully, in another tight game, it’ll be us that pips it.
"It’s either a carnival atmosphere or a graveyard and I know what side I want to be on."
Meanwhile, Morecambe captain Sam Lavelle also spoke on the club’s position and reaching the play-off final:
“It is a massive game for the club and the fans, we all know that. We are just trying to treat it like another game, we're preparing for the match like we have for games all season.
"I don't think anyone would have expected us to do as well as we did this season and to finish fourth and miss out on automatic promotion by just one point was unbelievable and the lads deserve a lot of credit for that. We started the season really well and have kept that form all season and been in the top four or five all season which is testament to the lads, the staff and the manager.
"It's definitely been the most enjoyable season I have had here and it is hard to believe how the club has turned round its fortunes since we went to Coventry three years ago needing a point to stay in the Football League. That was a massive day for a very different reason to Monday but we got through it and we have a lot of players who are used to big games.
"We have a really good squad this season and whenever someone has been injured someone has come in and done a great job and that has made a massive difference. We don't just have a strong starting 11, we have strength in depth and that has proved important. We know our strengths and we know we create chances and we have hit good form at the right time and will be doing all we can to take that form into Monday's game.''
How to watch
The game is available via Sky Sports Football or Sky Go Extra.