Former Hartlepool United midfielder guides Port Vale to promotion from League Two against Mansfield Town

Port Vale have been promoted to League One after defeating Mansfield Town at Wembley Stadium.

By Joe Ramage
Saturday, 28th May 2022, 6:13 pm

Former Hartlepool United midfielder Darrell Clarke guided his Valiants side to fifth in the League Two table, missing out on automatic promotion by just two points to Bristol Rovers on the final day of the campaign.

But after narrowly edging Swindon Town in their semi-final on penalties, the Vale Park side comfortably saw off Nigel Clough’s Stags at the national stadium.

Kieran Harratt and James Wilson scored within three minutes of each other to give Vale a commanding lead midway through the first half before Oli Hawkins was sent off for Mansfield 10 minutes before the interval.

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Darrell Clarke has guided Port Vale to promotion from League Two. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

It gave Clough’s side, which included former Pools striker Rhys Oates, a mountain to climb and one they were unable to as Vale capped things through Mal Benning’s fine finish.

Clarke’s men might have enjoyed a more emphatic scoreline after seeing two goals ruled out in the second half as they eased back into League One.

Clarke’s team sealed a league double over Pools this season with a 2-0 win at Vale Park in November against interim-manager Antony Sweeney’s side before a narrow 1-0 success at the Suit Direct Stadium on Good Friday.

Clarke has endured a challenging time away from the field after being given compassionate leave from the club earlier in the season.

But following a phased return towards the end of the campaign, including the Easter fixture at Pools where he could be seen sharing a moment with close friend Graeme Lee, the former Pools man was in the dugout at Wembley to steer his side to promotion.