2015 Conference Premier play-off Final

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2015 Conference Premier play-off Final
Wembley Stadium during London 2012 Olympic Games.JPG
Wembley Stadium, venue for the match
Event 2014–15 Football Conference
Bristol Rovers won 5–3 on penalties
Date17 May 2015
Venue Wembley Stadium, London
Referee Ross Joyce

The 2015 Conference Premier play-off Final, known as the 2015 Vanarama Conference Promotion Final for sponsorship reasons, was a football match between Bristol Rovers and Grimsby Town played on 17 May 2015 at Wembley Stadium in London. It was the thirteenth Conference Premier play-off Final, the eighth to be played at Wembley and the first to feature either side.

Association football Team field sport played between two teams of eleven players with spherical ball

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Bristol Rovers F.C. Association football club

Bristol Rovers Football Club is a professional football club in Bristol, England, which plays in League One, the third tier of English football. The team play home matches at the Memorial Stadium in Horfield.

Grimsby Town F.C. association football club

Grimsby Town Football Club is a professional football club based in Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire, England, that competes in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system. Nicknamed "the Mariners", the club was founded as Grimsby Pelham in 1878, changed its name to Grimsby Town a year later and moved to its current stadium, Blundell Park, in 1898.


The two participants finished the regular season in 2nd and 3rd respectively to qualify for the play-offs. Bristol Rovers overcame local rivals Forest Green Rovers 3–0 over two legs while Grimsby Town disposed of Eastleigh 5–1.

Forest Green Rovers F.C. English association football club

Forest Green Rovers Football Club is a professional football club based in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, England. The team compete in League Two and have played their home games at the New Lawn since 2006, when they moved from their original home at The Lawn Ground.

Eastleigh F.C.

Eastleigh Football Club is a professional association football club based in Eastleigh, Hampshire, England. The club currently competes in the National League, the fifth tier of English football, and plays its home matches at Ten Acres.

Bristol Rovers won the match 5–3 on penalties following a 1–1 draw after extra time. Rovers therefore became the first club since Carlisle United in 2005 to secure an immediate return to the Football League, [1] after their relegation on the last day of the previous season. For Grimsby Town, it was the third successive season that they had failed to win promotion via the play-offs and were condemned to a sixth straight season in the fifth tier. The attendance of 47,029 was a record for a Conference Premier match, [2] beating the previous best of 42,669 when Oxford United defeated York City to win promotion at the same venue in 2010.

A penalty shoot-out is a method of determining which team is awarded victory in an association football match that cannot end in a draw, when the score is tied after the regulation playing time as well as extra time have expired. In a penalty shoot-out, each team takes turns shooting at goal from the penalty mark, with the goal only defended by the opposing team's goalkeeper. Each team has five shots which must be taken by different kickers; the team that makes more successful kicks is declared the victor. Shoot-outs finish as soon as one team has an insurmountable lead. If scores are level after five pairs of shots, the shootout progresses into additional "sudden-death" rounds. Balls successfully kicked into the goal during a shoot-out do not count as goals for the individual kickers or the team, and are tallied separately from the goals scored during normal play. Although the procedure for each individual kick in the shoot-out resembles that of a penalty kick, there are some differences. Most notably, neither the kicker nor any player other than the goalkeeper may play the ball again once it has been kicked.

Overtime or extra time is an additional period of play specified under the rules of a sport to bring a game to a decision and avoid declaring the match a tie or draw where the scores are the same. In some sports, this extra period is played only if the game is required to have a clear winner, as in single-elimination tournaments where only one team or players can advance to the next round or win the tournament. In other sports, particularly those prominently played in North America where ties are generally disfavored, some form of overtime is employed for all games.

Carlisle United F.C. association football club

Carlisle United Football Club is a professional association football club based in Carlisle, Cumbria, England. The team compete in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system. They have played their home games at Brunton Park since 1909. The club's traditional kit is blue with white and red detail, whilst the badge takes elements from the city's coat of arms by including two wyverns. They are nicknamed the "Blues", due to their kit, as well as the "Cumbrians".

Route to the final

2 Bristol Rovers 46251657334+3991
3 Grimsby Town 462511107440+3486
4 Eastleigh 462410128761+2682
5 Forest Green Rovers 46221688054+2679 [lower-alpha 1]
  1. Forest Green Rovers were deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player in their win over Southport on 9 August 2014.


First leg
Second leg



Grimsby Town got off to the perfect start when a purposeful run from Nathan Arnold set up Lenell John-Lewis to shoot from inside the penalty area. His shot was saved by Bristol Rovers goalkeeper Will Puddy but it deflected off John-Lewis' face into the goal, giving the Mariners the lead after just 1:38. Grimsby kept up the pressure and were unfortunate not to be playing against ten men as Puddy handled Ollie Palmer's shot outside the area. However, referee Ross Joyce deemed the offence only worthy of a yellow card. Just over 10 minutes later and Rovers were level after Grimsby failed to deal with a Jake Gosling corner, leaving Ellis Harrison to drive the ball past James McKeown.

Nathan Arnold Footballer

Nathan Anthony Arnold is an English footballer who currently plays for Altrincham. He is primarily a winger but can also play as a striker. Arnold has previously played for Grimsby Town, Mansfield Town, Hyde United, Alfreton Town, Cambridge United and Lincoln City.

Lenell Nicholas John-Lewis is an English footballer who plays as a striker for Shrewsbury Town.

Penalty area

The penalty area or 18-yard box is an area of an association football pitch. It is rectangular and extends 16.5m to each side of the goal and 16.5m in front of it. Within the penalty area is the penalty spot, which is 10.97 metres (36.0 ft) or 12 yards from the goal line, directly in-line with the centre of the goal. A penalty arc adjoins the penalty area, and encloses the area within 9.15m from the penalty spot; it does not form part of the penalty area and is only of relevance during the taking of a penalty kick.

The second half proved a much less open affair as players tired, defenders came out on top and errors were few and far between. Extra time was much the same, as chances for Chris Lines for Rovers and John-Lewis for Grimsby came to nothing. In the last minute of the extra time, Rovers manager Darrell Clarke switched Puddy for substitute keeper Steve Mildenhall for the inevitable penalty shoot-out, in a move reminiscent of that by Dutch coach Louis van Gaal at the previous year's World Cup. [3] Clarke later stated that he felt Mildenhall would have "a better chance with his bigger frame." [3]

Chris Lines British footballer

Christopher John Lines is an English professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for League Two club Northampton Town.

Darrell Clarke English association football player and manager

Darrell James Clarke is an English professional football manager and former player who played in the Football League. He is the manager of League Two club Walsall.

Steve Mildenhall British footballer

Stephen James Mildenhall is an English former professional footballer who is goalkeeping coach at Swindon Town.

The first five penalties of the shoot-out were successfully converted before Jon-Paul Pittman blazed his over the bar in front of the Grimsby fans. The following two were also successful, leaving veteran Lee Mansell with the deciding spot kick, which he powered in to McKeown's left.

Jon-Paul Pittman Footballer

Jon-Paul Pittman is an American-born-English professional footballer who plays for Truro City on loan from Torquay United. He plays as a striker.

Lee Mansell British footballer

Lee Richard Samuel Mansell is an English former professional footballer who played for Luton Town, Nuneaton Borough, Oxford United, Torquay United and Bristol Rovers.


Bristol Rovers1–1 (a.e.t.) Grimsby Town
Harrison Soccerball shade.svg 29' Report John-Lewis Soccerball shade.svg 2'
Lines Soccerball shad check.svg
Taylor Soccerball shad check.svg
Brown Soccerball shad check.svg
Balanta Soccerball shad check.svg
Mansell Soccerball shad check.svg
5–3 Disley Soccerball shad check.svg
John-Lewis Soccerball shad check.svg
Pittman Soccerball shade cross.svg
Clay Soccerball shad check.svg
Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 47,029
Referee: Ross Joyce
Kit left arm blueborder.png
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body whitequarters23.png
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm whiteborder.png
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts white stripes.png
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks long.svg
Bristol Rovers
Kit left arm blackborder.png
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body 3whitestripes.png
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm blackborder.png
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts white stripes.png
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks long.svg
Grimsby Town
GK25 Will Puddy Yellow card.svg 18'Sub off.svg 120+1'
RB4 Tom Lockyer
CB5 Mark McChrystal (c)
CB6 Tom Parkes
LB3 Lee Brown
RM11 Jake Gosling Sub off.svg 75'
CM14 Chris Lines
CM7 Lee Mansell
LM23 Andy Monkhouse
ST10 Matty Taylor Yellow card.svg 35'
ST17 Ellis Harrison Sub off.svg 80'
GK1 Steve Mildenhall Sub on.svg 120+1'
DF2 Daniel Leadbitter
MF8 Ollie Clarke
MF29 Ángelo Balanta Sub on.svg 75'
FW27 Nathan Blissett Sub on.svg 80'
Darrell Clarke
GK1 James McKeown
RB6 Carl Magnay Yellow card.svg 41'
CB22 Aristote Nsiala
CB5 Shaun Pearson
LB35 Gregor Robertson Sub off.svg 74'
RM7 Jack Mackreth
CM8 Craig Disley (c)
CM4 Scott Brown Yellow card.svg 87'Sub off.svg 99'
LM20 Nathan Arnold
ST14 Lenell John-Lewis
ST33 Ollie Palmer Sub off.svg 70'
DF19 Daniel Parslow Sub on.svg 74'
MF16 Craig Clay Sub on.svg 99'
MF34 Christian Jolley
FW10 Ross Hannah
FW18 Jon-Paul Pittman Sub on.svg 70'
Paul Hurst

Match officials:

  • Assistant referees:
    • Paul Johnson
    • Joe Johnson
  • Fourth official: Martin Coy

Match rules:

  • 90 minutes.
  • 30 minutes of extra time if necessary.
  • Penalty shoot-out if scores still level.
  • Five named substitutes.
  • Maximum of three substitutions.

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  1. "Bristol Rovers 1–1 Grimsby". BBC Sport. 17 May 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  2. "Record Crowd See Rovers Return". Football Conference. 17 May 2015. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  3. 1 2 "Bristol Rovers 1–1 Grimsby Town (5–3 pens): The Pirates secure promotion to League Two... and copy Holland at 2014 World Cup by changing goalkeeper in 120th minute!". Daily Mail. London. 17 May 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015.[ unreliable source? ]