Football League Two play-offs
The Football League Two play-offs are a series of play-off matches, contested by the teams finishing from 4th to 7th in the Football League Two table to determine the fourth promotion place to the third tier of English football, League One. The semi-finals are played over two legs, with 7th playing 4th and 6th playing 5th, with the return fixtures following. The final is played at Wembley Stadium, although from 2001 to 2006 the final was played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff while Wembley was being rebuilt. Due to a clash with the Champions League final, the 2011 play-off final was again in a new location, this time at Old Trafford.
The first ever play-off final was contested in 1987 between Aldershot and Wolverhampton Wanderers, with Aldershot ending up as winners over two legs. The last team to win the League Two play-offs was Southend United after beating Wycombe Wanderers 7-6 on penalties in the 2014-15 season.
|1987–1992||Football League Fourth Division Play-offs|
|1993–2004||Football League Third Division Play-offs|
|2005–||Football League Two Play-offs|
Aside from the branding changes which affected English football in 1992 and 2004, the League Two Play–offs have also changed in format.
When they were introduced for the 1986–87 season, the play-offs originally featured a third-tier club as well as the three fourth-tier clubs. The first winners were Aldershot, who won promotion in impressive style by beating their illustrious opponents Bolton Wanderers in the semi-finals (condemning the four-times FA Cup winners to relegation) and then defeated a Wolverhampton Wanderers side with nine major trophies to their name in the two-legged final. A year later, Swansea City won promotion at the expense of Rotherham United.
The format was then but discontinued afterwards to include only the four teams who finished behind the team or teams winning automatic promotion. As before, the semi-final and final were both two-legged, and this time were won by a Leyton Orient side who memorably climbed into the top seven of the Fourth Division after being in the bottom half of the table with two months of the league season remaining.
Since the 1989–90 season, the final has been a single game, contested between the winners of the semi-finals (which remain two-legged), held at either Wembley Stadium or the Millennium Stadium. The first winners of the final in this format were Cambridge United, whose victory marked the beginning of an excellent three-season run for the East Anglian club, being followed by the Third Division title a year later and then a playoff appearance in the Second Division in 1992, where a semi-final defeat ended their hopes of playing in the new FA Premier League and becoming the first Football League team to win three consecutive promotions.
Note: These are only for play-offs at League Two level, for overall records in the Football League play-offs see here.
- Most play-off promotions: 2 – Blackpool, Cheltenham Town, Southend United
- Most play-off participations: 6 – Scunthorpe United, Torquay United
- Most unsuccessful play-off participations: 5 – Lincoln City (from 5 in total), Scunthorpe United (from 6), Torquay United (from 6)
- Teams without any unsuccessful play-off participations: Aldershot (1987), Cambridge United (1990), Peterborough United (2000), Bournemouth (2003), Huddersfield Town (2004), Bristol Rovers (2007), Gillingham (2009), Dagenham & Redbridge (2010), Bradford City (2013) and Fleetwood Town (2014)
- Biggest aggregate win: Crewe Alexandra 9–3 Walsall (1993)
- Biggest home win: Dagenham & Redbridge 6–0 Morecambe (Semi-final, 2010)
- Biggest away win: Lincoln City 3–5 Bristol Rovers (Semi-final, 2007)
- Biggest win in a final: Bournemouth 5–2 Lincoln City (2003)
- Highest scoring final: 7 goals – Bournemouth 5–2 Lincoln City (2003)
- Highest scoring play-off match: 8 goals – Lincoln City 5–3 Scunthorpe United (Semi-final, 2003); Lincoln City 3–5 Bristol Rovers (Semi-final, 2007)
- Highest scoring tie (aggregate): 12 goals – Crewe Alexandra 9–3 Walsall (1993)
- Highest attendance: 61,589 – Bristol Rovers vs Shrewsbury Town (Final, 2007)
- Lowest attendance: 3,606 – Torquay United vs Cheltenham Town (Semi-final, 2012)