by : David Hulott
DIVISION THREE PLAY-OFF FINAL PREVIEW
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN V MANSFIELD TOWN
The last of the promotion play-offs sees a clash between two teams bidding for an immediate return to Division Two after relegation last term.
Huddersfield and Mansfield both made heavy weather of their semi-finals, having both secured first-leg advantages away from home, only to contrive to fall behind on aggregate in their home games before staging recoveries.
Mansfield must surely be one of the best teams to watch in terms of value for money, with goals both scored and conceded at a heady rate. The Stags’ main hopes will surely lie with Liam Lawrence, a player destined for a higher level of football, whether or not Mansfield go up. Keith Curle’s team will miss striker Iyesden Christie, who is sidelined with a fractured foot. The team that started both legs against Northampton Town in the semi-final is again set to start here.
Huddersfield are boosted by the availability of experienced striker Andy Booth, who has recovered from a knee injury, while Tony Clarke (ankle) and Tony Carss (thigh strain) are also fit. On-loan Paul Rachubka will continue in goal, with Ian Gray still sidelined with a broken hand. Terriers’ manager Peter Jackson knows that his side threw away the chance of automatic promotion in the latter stages of the regular season, not least as a result of a 3:1 home defeat to Mansfield on May 1st.
Huddersfield look to have a good mix of youth and experience, while Mansfield’s defence should present the likes of Booth, Pawel Danny Schofield and Iffy Onuora with plenty of opportunities. If they can deprive Lawrence of the opportunity to shine, Huddersfield could provide Yorkshire football with a rare bright moment in recent years.
TIP: take Huddersfield to be winning at both half-time and full-time – 3-1 (Ladbrokes)