York City bounce into the play-offs on a 17-game unbeaten run, but manager Nigel Worthington is wary of "the Manchester City of League Two".
Fleetwood Town spent lavishly in a bid to continue their Wimbledon-esque ascent up the English football pyramid, and begin their bid for a trip to Wembley at Bootham Crescent on Saturday.
One day later, Burton Albion host Southend United in the division's other semi-final first leg – eight days after their 'dress rehearsal' on the final day of the regular season dictated which of them would have home advantage in part two of their duel.
Just six points separated the four sides in the final League Two standings, but the team who finished bottom of this cluster of clubs will carry momentum into the play-offs.
York won 11 and drew six of their last 17 outings – a run that began with a 2-1 victory at Fleetwood at the start of February.
"They are the Manchester City of our league with a wealthy chairman who has spent money, so we will need to be on our best behaviour," warned Worthington.
"But if we go out and perform, we have got a good chance of getting into the final."
Fleetwood also have reason for optimism as they seek a sixth promotion in 11 seasons. The Lancashire club have won their last three visits to York without conceding a goal, while manager Graham Alexander was able to rest several first-team players for their last league assignment of 2013-14.
The performances on two on-loan 22-year-olds could be crucial to the outcome. York's fresh-faced goalkeeper Nick Pope and Fleetwood midfielder Josh Morris – on loan from Charlton Athletic and Blackburn Rovers respectively – were nominated for League Two's Player of the Month award for April, with the latter emerging triumphant.
Southend edged Burton 1-0 last weekend to pip them to fifth place on goal difference and consequently secure home advantage in the second leg of their semi-final. However, Gary Rowett suggested that result was an indirect victory for his Burton side.
"Home first is what we would have chosen so I'm pleased and now we have to make sure that we're as positive as we can be," said the former Derby County defender.
Southend finished the season with 19 points from a possible 24 and the division's best defensive record. Goalkeeper Daniel Bentley, 20, and 21-year-old midfielder Ryan Leonard were both excellent for Phil Brown's side, while towering striker Barry Corr has netted five goals in his last six games.
"We're going in to the play-offs with a winning mentality and I think that's vitally important," said Brown.
"We have a fantastic defensive record and in Barry Corr we have a striker in a rich vein of form."
|Coach: N. Worthington|
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