THE BIG MATCH

Port Vale could secure promotion to npower League 1 this weekend when they entertain sixth-placed Northampton Town.

The Valiants are second and lead Burton Albion, who are fourth, and third-placed Rotherham United by three points so will have their rise to League 1 confirmed if they win against the Cobblers and either the Brewers or the Millers drop points.

Vale possess a far superior goal difference, however, so they will be all but promoted with a victory against Northampton regardless of other results.

A bumper crowd is expected at Vale Park with the Valiants seeking a first promotion in 19 years and manager Micky Adams is calling on his players to respond to the hype around the fixture in the right manner.

"There's no doubting the enormity of this game. We all know what's at stake," the 51-year-old explained to the Sentinel. "The players have seen the queues for tickets, they've read the papers, they know what it means. We have a fantastic chance to create a bit of history, and I want to make sure we do.

"As a professional player, these are the days you want, but we mustn't get carried away by the emotion. We need to stick to the game plan and keep our discipline. We need to keep 11 players on the pitch. We don't need anyone doing something stupid."

While the majority of the pre-match build-up will be all about Port Vale's possible promotion, it's also a significant game for Northampton as their Play-Off place will be confirmed with a victory.

Aidy Boothroyd's men may not need a win, though, as out-of-form Exeter City, who have lost four of their last five, are the only team capable of denying them a place in the end-of-season festivities.

The Cobblers could still secure automatic promotion - they trail third-placed Rotherham by four points - but boss Boothroyd is focussing on the Play-Offs.

"My mindset at the moment is to get into the Play-Offs, to cement that," the former Watford manager told the Northampton Chronicle and Echo. "Anything above that would be a bonus and to achieve a Play-Off finish coming from where we were is a massive bonus as well.

"We are going to go all out to win every single game but we'll see where it takes us, as simple as that. We've had a really good season and we just want to finish it off well."

KEEP AN EYE ON

York City and Southend United are involved in battles at opposite ends of the League 2 table and they meet at Bootham Crescent on Saturday.

For Southend, who are 10th, only three points would give them any chance of still being involved in the Play-Off race, but even that might not be enough - the Shrimpers trail seventh-place Bradford City by four points with two games left.

The match is arguably more significant for York, though, as they are 21st and entwined in the fight against relegation at the foot of the division. They are above the drop zone by a single point so will be keen to pick up what would be a valuable victory.

If they do win, and both Barnet and Aldershot Town, the two teams currently in the bottom two, both lose, the Minstermen will confirm their Football League status for another season.

York are unbeaten in four and manager Nigel Worthington is pleased his side have their destiny in their own hands going into the final two games of the campaign.

He told York Press: "It's a nice position to be in - better that than relying on other teams around you.

"You have got to help yourself in this game. If you sit back and wait for other people it never happens and will go against you.

"We have to continue the momentum we have had over the last month or five weeks and keep that going."

Southend were 2-0 victors against bottom club Aldershot on Tuesday night and that was Phil Brown's first victory as boss of the Essex outfit, and the club's only win since early March.

Ryan Leonard played the full 90 minutes at the EBB Stadium in midweek and he believes the match against York will be similar to the one they encountered against the Shots.

He explained to www.southendunited.co.uk: "When we went to Aldershot on Tuesday night we knew they would scrap for everything, and we really had to dig deep to get the three points against them.

"That's exactly what we're going to have to do on Saturday against York because they find themselves in a very similar position to Aldershot so we know what to expect.

"It's going to be a difficult game but if we approach it with the same battling qualities that we did against Aldershot then there's every chance we will come away with another three points."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Gillingham could finally secure the npower League 2 title this weekend when they take on relegation-threatened AFC Wimbledon. The Gills lost to Cheltenham Town last time out to prolong their wait to be crowned League 2 champions but they are six points clear at the top of the table so require just a point. If second-placed Port Vale lose, Martin Allen's men will be confirmed as champions regardless of their result against the Wombles, who are just a point and a place above the bottom two.

Barnet and Aldershot Town are the two teams currently in the drop zone and they are up against Wycombe Wanderers and Dagenham and Redbridge respectively. The Shots are four points adrift of safety so will be relegated if they fail to get a victory against the Daggers, who are also in the mix at the bottom, while Barnet are three points ahead but have enough teams they could still catch with one win to make it unlikely a defeat would lead to their demotion this week.

The Gulls picked up a priceless victory against the Bees in midweek and will go in search of another three points away at mid-table Morecambe on Saturday.

Accrington Stanley are directly above Torquay and unbeaten in four ahead of their meeting with Bristol Rovers, while 17th-placed Plymouth Argyle, who are all but safe from the drop, host Rotherham United. The Millers moved up to third with an important midweek victory against Bradford City and another three points would cement their standing in the automatic promotion positions going into the final day.

Steve Evans' men looked set for a Play-Off finish but three wins on the bounce, culminating in that result over the Bantams, has seen them emerge from the pack, ahead of Burton Albion, Cheltenham Town, Northampton and Bradford, who occupy the Play-Off places.

Burton will want to pounce if Rotherham slip up but they have a tough game against the Bantams at Valley Parade. That may leave Cheltenham with an opportunity to move up to third - they will do so if both the Brewers and the Millers lose and they get a victory in their match against Exeter. The Grecians lie directly below the top seven, one point behind Bradford, which adds even more spice to the weekend's fixture list.

Chesterfield and Fleetwood Town could also still mathematically make the Play-Offs and they go head-to-head at Highbury, while the remaining fixture in npower League 2 fixture sees two sides sitting mid-table lock horns at the Kassam Stadium, where Oxford United entertain Rochdale.

Click here for all the weekend's action