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2009 Football League Two play-off Final

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2009 Football League Two play-off final
Event Football League Two 2008-09
Date 23 May 2009
Venue Wembley Stadium, London
Man of the Match Simon King
Referee Clive Oliver (Northumberland)
Attendance 53,706

The 2009 Football League Two play-off final was a football match played at Wembley Stadium on 23 May 2009, at the end of the 2008–09 season. The match determined the fourth and final team to gain promotion from Football League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system, and featured Gillingham, who finished fifth during the league season, and Shrewsbury Town, who finished seventh.

The match was Gillingham's first appearance at the new Wembley Stadium and Shrewsbury's second. The teams reached the final by defeating Rochdale and Bury respectively in the semi-finals. The match remained scoreless until the last minute, when Simeon Jackson headed in Josh Wright's corner kick to give Gillingham the lead with seconds remaining. The Kent-based club thus won promotion back to Football League One one year after being relegated.

Route to the final[edit]

Simeon Jackson scored both of Gillingham's goals in the semi-final.

Gillingham had finished the 2008–09 season in fifth place in Football League Two with 75 points, two places and six points above Shrewsbury.[1] In the play-off semi-finals, the "Gills" faced Rochdale, who had finished in sixth position. The first leg at Rochdale's Spotland Stadium on 7 May 2009 finished in a 0–0 draw.[2] In the second match at Priestfield Stadium three days later, Simeon Jackson scored from an Andy Barcham cross to give Gillingham the lead in the 13th minute, only for Chris Dagnall to equalise in the 36th minute. Jackson scored a second goal with a penalty kick in the 58th minute after John Nutter had been fouled by Rory McArdle. Gillingham thus won the match 2–1 and won their semi-final on aggregate by the same score.[3]

Shrewsbury, who had only qualified for the play-offs by defeating Dagenham & Redbridge in the final match of the regular season,[4] played fourth placed Bury in their semi-final. The first match at Shrewsbury's home ground, New Meadow, was decided by a late own goal from Shrewsbury's Neil Ashton, who accidentally lobbed the ball over his own goalkeeper Luke Daniels to give Bury a 1–0 win.[5] In the second leg at Gigg Lane, Daniels saved Phil Jevons' penalty kick and Shrewsbury's Kevin McIntyre scored a goal in the 88th minute to level the tie. With no further score, a penalty shoot-out was required to decide which team would advance to the final. Daniels saved penalty kicks from Andy Bishop and Danny Racchi and Shrewsbury won the shoot-out and thus reached the final.[6]

Gillingham Shrewsbury
Opponent Result Legs Round Opponent Result Legs
Rochdale 2–1 0–0 away; 2–1 home Semi-finals Bury 1–1
Shrewsbury won penalty
shoot-out 4–3
0–1 away; 1–0 home

Match summary[edit]

Shrewsbury's Chris Humphrey had not played in the second leg of the semi-final but was selected for the final by manager Paul Simpson.

The two teams were competing for promotion to Football League One, the third tier of the English football league system. The match was Gillingham's first appearance at the new Wembley Stadium, although the club had played at the original Wembley in 1999 and 2000.[7] Shrewsbury had previously played at the new Wembley in the 2007 League Two play-off final and at the original in the final of the 1996 Football League Trophy.[8] The attendance of 53,706 was significantly higher than the 35,715 registered at the previous year's League Two play-off final.[9] A specific revenue figure for the match was not made public, but half of the gate receipts went to The Football League to distribute amongst its member clubs, with Gillingham and Shrewsbury each receiving twenty-five per cent and no additional television broadcast fee.[10] Gillingham manager Mark Stimson named the same eleven players who had started the second leg of the semi-final against Rochdale,[11] while his opposite number Paul Simpson made two changes from the team which contested the second leg of the semi-final against Bury, replacing David Worrall and Ömer Rıza with Chris Humphrey and Nick Chadwick.[12][13]

Shortly before kick-off, sports betting organisation Sky Bet gave identical odds of 6/4 on both teams to win, with 9/4 on a draw.[14] The match referee was Clive Oliver, whose son Michael took charge of the League One play-off Final the following day. This was the first time that a father and son had refereed in Football League play-off finals.[15] Pre-match entertainment included teams from Killamarsh Junior School and Thurlby Community Primary School contesting the final of the Football Association Community Cup, a parade by members of the British armed forces, and a performance of the National Anthem led by operatic vocalist Will Martin.[16]

First half[edit]

The early part of the game was largely uneventful, with both teams' defenses looking unsettled. In the first minute Gillingham's captain Barry Fuller was forced to hack the ball clear of his goal area after confusion among his teammates.[13] Gillingham began to take control of the game, but the first serious goalscoring opportunity did not come until the 31st minute when John Nutter shot for goal after a corner kick, only to be denied by Shrewsbury goalkeeper Luke Daniels.[17] Josh Wright and Dennis Oli both had goalscoring chances blocked by Shrewsbury's defenders and Daniels also saved a shot from Wright.[17] Shrewsbury struggled to keep possession of the ball and had few attempts on goal before the half-time break.[13]

Second half[edit]

Gillingham fans celebrate after the match

The second half began with Gillingham dominating play, and Andy Barcham had a goalbound shot tipped away by goalkeeper Daniels. Soon afterwards, Gillingham goalkeeper Simon Royce made his first significant save of the match, stopping a shot from Shrewsbury's Ben Davies, which marked the start of a spell of pressure from the "Shrews". Kelvin Langmead's shot was saved by Royce and Kevin McIntyre headed wide of the target when presented with what Sky Sports' Richard Bailey considered the best opportunity of the game.[17]

In the final minute of the game, Barcham tussled with a Shrewsbury defender and the referee awarded a corner kick to Gillingham. Josh Wright took the corner and Simeon Jackson headed the ball into the goal to give Gillingham the lead. Defender Neil Ashton, standing on the goal line, attempted to keep the ball out but was unsuccessful.[17][18] Shrewsbury launched a last-ditch attack in a bid to equalise, but captain Graham Coughlan's header went over the crossbar and Gillingham held on to claim victory and gain promotion back to League One one year after being relegated from that division.[17][19]


Gillingham captain Barry Fuller displays the trophy during the team's celebratory parade

Post-match analysis showed that referee Oliver had erroneously awarded the corner kick from which Gillingham's goal had been scored, as the ball had in fact come off Barcham and therefore a goal kick should instead have been awarded to Shrewsbury.[18][19][20] Paul Simpson referred to this in his post-match comments, but said that "if we look at things like that we will be clutching at straws".[13] Mark Stimson highlighted the financial benefits of his team's promotion, noting that large crowds would be expected for matches in League One against Leeds United, Norwich City and Southampton.[13]

After the match, Gillingham captain Barry Fuller received the winners' trophy from the presentation party, which consisted of Lord Mawhinney, the chairman of The Football League, and Mark Osikoya, Head of Marketing Assets for the League's sponsors, Coca-Cola.[16] Two days later, the club staged a celebratory open-top bus parade from Rochester Castle to Priestfield Stadium.[21]

Match details[edit]

23 May 2009
15:00 BST
Gillingham 1 – 0 Shrewsbury Town
Jackson Goal 90' Report
Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 53,706
Referee: Clive Oliver (Northumberland)
Shrewsbury Town
GK 1 England Simon Royce
RB 2 England Barry Fuller (c)
CB 6 England Garry Richards
CB 5 England Simon King
LB 3 England John Nutter
RM 4 England Stuart Lewis
CM 26 England Curtis Weston YC 53'
LM 16 England Josh Wright
RF 21 England Dennis Oli
CF 10 Canada Simeon Jackson
LF 32 England Andy Barcham
GK 23 Northern Ireland Alan Julian
DF 8 England Mark Bentley
MF 14 Northern Ireland Adam Miller
MF 31 Sierra Leone Albert Jarrett
FW 30 Barbados Mark McCammon
England Mark Stimson
GK 26 England Luke Daniels
RB 2 Wales Darren Moss
CB 8 England Kelvin Langmead
CB 5 Republic of Ireland Graham Coughlan (c) YC 53'
LB 3 England Neil Ashton
RM 17 Jamaica Chris Humphrey Substituted off 90'
CM 14 England Ben Davies
CM 15 England Paul Murray YC 54' Substituted off 74'
LM 28 England Kevin McIntyre
CF 16 England Grant Holt YC 60'
CF 21 England Nick Chadwick Substituted off 79'
GK 1 Wales Glyn Garner
DF 24 Australia Shane Cansdell-Sherriff
MF 23 England David Worrall Substituted in 74'
FW 29 Antigua and Barbuda Moses Ashikodi Substituted in 90'
FW 31 Turkey Ömer Rıza Substituted in 79'
England Paul Simpson


  • 90 minutes.
  • 30 minutes of extra-time if necessary.
  • Penalty shootout if scores still level.
  • Five named substitutes.
  • Maximum of three substitutions.


Gillingham Shrewsbury Town
Goals scored 1 0
Total shots 10 7
Shots on target 4 1
Ball possession 57% 43%
Corner kicks 9 1
Fouls committed 10 18
Offsides 1 1
Yellow cards 1 3
Red cards 0 0

Source: Sky Sports

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Latest Football League Two Table". Soccerbase. Retrieved 12 June 2009. 
  2. ^ "Rochdale 0–0 Gillingham". BBC Sport. 7 May 2009. Archived from the original on 10 May 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  3. ^ Dawkes, Phil (10 May 2009). "Gillingham 2–1 Rochdale". BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 14 May 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  4. ^ Dunn, Stuart (19 May 2009). "Shrewsbury all set for big time". BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 23 May 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  5. ^ "Shrewsbury 0–1 Bury". BBC Sport. 7 May 2009. Archived from the original on 10 May 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  6. ^ McIntyre, David (10 May 2009). "Bury 0–1 Shrewsbury (agg 1–1)". BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 15 May 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2009. 
  7. ^ "Gillingham". The Football Club History Database. Archived from the original on 28 May 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2009. 
  8. ^ "Shrewsbury Town". The Football Club History Database. Retrieved 13 June 2009. 
  9. ^ Walters, Mike (27 May 2008). "Stockport 3-2 Rochdale: Jim Gannon's men win League Two Play-off final". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 12 June 2009. 
  10. ^ Lansley, Peter (16 May 2003). "Wolves silently hunting end to 16 years of play-off failure". The Times. London. Retrieved 12 June 2009. 
  11. ^ Harwood, Jan (10 May 2009). "Gillingham 2 (Jackson 13, 58 pen) Rochdale 1 (Dagnall 36) - Full Time Report". Rochdale Online. Retrieved 12 June 2009. 
  12. ^ McIntyre, David (10 May 2009). "Bury 0-1 Shrewsbury (agg 1-1)". BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 15 May 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Fletcher, Paul (24 May 2009). "Gillingham 1-0 Shrewsbury". BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 25 May 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009. 
  14. ^ Bailey, Richard (10 May 2009). "FT: Gillingham 1 Shrewsbury 0". Sky Sports. Archived from the original on 29 May 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009. 
  15. ^ "Referees set for the record books". Darlington F.C. 20 May 2009. Archived from the original on 26 May 2009. Retrieved 14 June 2009. 
  16. ^ a b "Order of Events", Coca-Cola League 2 Play-off Final 2009 Official Matchday Programme, The Football League, p. 3, 23 May 2009 
  17. ^ a b c d e Bailey, Richard (23 May 2009). "Gills win play-off showdown". Sky Sports. Archived from the original on 27 May 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2009. 
  18. ^ a b Rostance, Tom (24 May 2009). "Jackson proves to be league apart with Gills' golden goal". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 27 May 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2009. 
  19. ^ a b Gripper, Ann (23 May 2009). "Gillingham win promotion with victory over Shrewsbury". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009. 
  20. ^ Lyon, Sam (23 May 2009). "League Two play-off final as it happened". BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 1 June 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009. 
  21. ^ "Thousands cheer Gills' bus parade". BBC News. 25 May 2009. Archived from the original on 28 May 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009. 

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