Northampton Town will begin the final day of the League 2 season in pole position for automatic promotion after Port Vale and Mansfield Town dropped points.
After the Cobblers could only draw with the already promoted Exeter City at Sixfields on Saturday, Northampton would have been jumped by either the Valiants or the Stags had either won their game in hand.
But neither could manage it, with Mansfield Town drawing 2-2 at Salford City, before Port Vale suffered a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Newport County.
This means Northampton will start the final day of the League 2 season next weekend in 3rd position, and know that a win will most likely confirm their immediate return to League 1.
Northampton will travel to face Barrow on the final day of the season, which takes place on Saturday (07/05) at 3pm. They start ahead of 4th place Bristol Rovers on goal difference, one point ahead of 5th place Mansfield but with a goal difference advantage, two points ahead of Port Vale and three clear of Swindon, but with the same goal difference as the latter two sides.
Bristol Rovers can still finish ahead of Northampton if both sides win, though Bristol Rovers would need to beat the already-relegated Scunthorpe United by five more goals than Northampton can manage at Barrow.
On the Bank Holiday Monday games, Mansfield took on a Salford team that needed a win to take their hopes of making the play-offs to the final day. Jordan Turnbull scored inside 90 seconds to give Salford the lead but a double from Stephen McLaughlin – one a free-kick, one a penalty scored in first half stoppage time – saw the away side come from behind to lead.
But Salford would take a point through Matty Lund, with Lund later hitting the bar in a match that saw neither side find a winner. The result means Salford can no longer qualify for the play-offs, while Mansfield failed to overtake the Cobblers.
The point was enough for Mansfield to jump ahead of Port Vale, who hosted Newport in a 3pm kick-off. But the Welsh side would strike early through Ryan Haynes’ goal.
Vale equalised through Ben Garrity but a goal by Finn Azaz with less than 20 minutes remaining won the match for Newport, and means that like Mansfield did earlier in the day, Port Vale missed the chance to jump up into 3rd spot ahead of the Cobblers.
Northampton wrap up their season against Barrow, Bristol Rovers in 4th host Scunthorpe, 5th place Mansfield host Forest Green Rovers, Port Vale in 6th travel to FGR’s fellow title contenders Exeter, and a Swindon Town side that will start the final day 7th travel to Walsall.
Not only does a tight top end of the table see 5 teams still in the hunt for automatic promotion but a further 2 teams are still with hopes of finishing inside the play-offs. Sutton United in 8th close their season away at Harrogate, while 9th place Tranmere will visit Leyton Orient, with both needing results elsewhere to go in their favour to get them into the top 7.