League Two play-off final: Morecambe v Newport County

Kevin Ellison
Kevin Ellison is the oldest player to play and to score in an EFL play-off match
Venue: Wembley Date: Monday, 31 May Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Lancashire and BBC Radio Wales, updates on BBC Radio 5 live and live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Newport boss Mike Flynn says his side will not be distracted by Kevin Ellison’s issues with Morecambe manager Derek Adams when they face each other in Monday’s League Two play-off final.

Ellison, 42, was released by Morecambe and earlier this season celebrated vigorously in front of Adams after scoring against his former employers.

The veteran also scored at Forest Green to help the Exiles reach Wembley.

“For me it is not the Derek Adams and Kevin Ellison show,” Flynn said.

Ellison, who played for Morecambe from 2011 to 2020, said after scoring that goal that he “doesn’t like” Adams, who he believes showed him “disrespect”.

However, Flynn – who led Newport to the League Two play-off final in 2019 but saw his side beaten 1-0 by Tranmere Rovers – says there can be no distractions because of the Ellison situation.

“Derek Adams is somebody I’ve got a lot of respect for and I just think there was a bit of emotion coming out from Kevin,” Flynn said.

“He’d had a nine-year stint there, which is a phenomenal stay at any club, but it’s done now.”

Ellison’s inclusion is a key selection quandary for Newport boss Flynn, whose side collapsed at Forest Green as their 2-0 first leg advantage was wiped out, before Ellison sparked a comeback in a dramatic second leg at the New Lawn.

Ellison’s stunning goal helped the Exiles to Wembley with a 5-4 aggregate win and it seems inevitable the veteran will feature at some point.

‘I am in their heads’

Ellison, who scored six goals for Morecambe against Newport, says he hopes the focus being on him will allow Newport’s players to relax at Wembley.

“I am glad what happened early in the season at the Mazuma, where I got my little bit of payback and my emotions out,” Ellison said.

“For me now I am going into this game concentrating on Newport v Morecambe, it’s not me versus whoever.

“I think some people will look at it as Kevin Ellison playing Morecambe and he has had this with their gaffer.

“I think I am in Morecambe’s heads. I think me being in the Newport dressing room takes pressure off the other lads in our team too.

“The media will make it about me versus them and I am happy with that, it’ll help the other lads. I will take that pressure.”

Adams, on the other hand, was keen to focus more on the impact that his squad have had this season when asked whether media coverage of his relationship with Ellison is a distraction.

Morecambe could play third-tier football for the first time in their history should they beat Newport in Monday’s final.

“For this football club, I think it’s really important that we move on from years gone by. People said we were little old Morecambe and we’re trying to change that scope on it,” he told BBC Radio Lancashire.

“We’ve been spoken about in the media in great light this year because of the way we play.

“It’s testament to the players and squad we have here that we have a Morecambe side that are exciting to watch, who create a lot of chances in games and that they’re excited to see.”

Match facts

  • Morecambe have lost each of their last three League Two matches against Newport County, one more than in their first 13 meetings with the Exiles (W7 D4 L2).
  • For only the second time in the last 13 seasons, the League Two play-off final will be contested by the teams who finished fourth and fifth in the table; the other was Southend and Wycombe’s 1-1 draw in the 2015 final, with the Shrimpers winning 7-6 on penalties.
  • Morecambe are looking to reach the third tier of English football for the first time, having played 14 consecutive seasons in League Two since 2007-08. The Shrimps have played more seasons in the Football League without playing higher than the fourth tier than any other side.
  • Newport County haven’t won Football League promotion since the 1979-80 season, when they finished third in the fourth tier. The Exiles haven’t played in the third tier since 1986-87 and suffered a 1-0 defeat in the 2018-19 League Two play-off final to Tranmere Rovers in their only previous Football League play-off final appearance.
  • Morecambe have won their only two previous appearances at Wembley, winning the 1974 FA Trophy final against Dartford and the 2007 Conference play-off final against Exeter City. They are one of only seven club sides to have played more than once at Wembley winning every visit to the national stadium.
  • Newport have lost three of their four matches at Wembley, losing to York City in the 2012 FA Trophy final, Spurs in an FA Cup replay in February 2018 and Tranmere in May 2019 in the League Two play-off final. Their one previous win at the stadium came in the 2013 Conference play-off final, beating Wrexham with current boss Michael Flynn in the starting XI that day.
  • Morecambe manager Derek Adams is looking for his second promotion from League Two, having led Plymouth Argyle to automatic promotion in 2016-17. However, Adams suffered defeat in his only previous Football League play-off final, losing 2-0 with Argyle against AFC Wimbledon in 2015-16.
  • Newport County’s 42-year-old forward Kevin Ellison is the top scoring player in Football League meetings between Morecambe and Newport (7), scoring six times for Morecambe and once for Newport in their 3-1 win over the Shrimps earlier this season; no other player has more than three goals in games between the sides

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