After Leicester City became the first team to qualify for the Final Third Development League Cup Semi-Finals last week, Mansfield Town and Hartlepool United have now put themselves in a strong position to join the Foxes in the last four.
With Leicester qualifying from Group A, a tight battle is now developing for the final three places, which will be made up from the winners of Group B and C, along with the best runner-up.
Mansfield continue to sit top of Group B after an impressive 2-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday, but Hartlepool are hot on their heels.
That victory over the Owls continued Mansfield’s 100% record in the cup following three 2-0 victories. Having already put themselves in a commanding position to qualify as the highest-placed runner-up should they not finish as group winners, the Stags could have rubber-stamped their spot in the final four when Hartlepool United met Rotherham United on Wednesday.
Anything other than victory for Hartlepool would have seen the men from Mansfield confirm top spot in Group B, but Pools thrashed Rotherham 6-0 to perpetuate the race for qualification.
Those two results mean that Mansfield lead the group on nine points, with Hartlepool on six, both with one game left to play. Scunthorpe, having played all of their games, are third on four points, with Sheffield Wednesday on three and Rotherham on one.
In Group C, all five teams can still qualify for the Semi-Finals. Carlisle United and Tranmere Rovers are top on six points, but both have played all four of their fixtures. Carlisle’s final group stage outing saw them lose 2-1 at Wigan Athletic on Tuesday as the Latics moved into third, also on six points but with one game remaining. Morecambe and Fleetwood are both on three points.
The one remaining fixture in Group A was due to be played on Wednesday in a dead-rubber between Port Vale and Doncaster Rovers, but the match was postponed owing to Vale’s waterlogged pitch.
The Final Third Development League continued to tick over during the week with Wrexham and Morecambe contesting a 1-1 draw in the West Division on Monday. That stalemate kept the teams in fourth and fifth respectively as Wigan and Walsall remain tied on 15 points at the top. In the East Division Hull City lead Mansfield by a point.
Next week, Group B of the Cup will be concluded when wins for both Mansfield and Hartlepool will see both teams advance into the Semi-Finals. There are also four matches in the West Division of the League.