|Event||2016–17 National League|
2017 National League play-offs
|Date||14 May 2017|
|Venue||Wembley Stadium, London|
The 2017 National League play-off Final, known as the 2017 Vanarama National League Promotion Final for sponsorship purposes, was an association football match between Forest Green Rovers and Tranmere Rovers on 14 May 2017 at Wembley Stadium in London. It was the 15th National League play-off Final, the second under the name National League and the tenth to be played at Wembley.
A Kaiyne Woolery brace helped Forest Green secure a first ever promotion to the Football League as they defeated Tranmere 3-1 at Wembley.
Wigan loanee Woolery, gave Mark Cooper’s men the lead with stunning effort from range that struck the post on its way in after 12 minutes, before Connor Jennings replied for Tranmere 10 minutes later, with an equally-impressive strike into the top left hand corner.
Forest Green regained the lead as Tranmere capitulated in the final five minutes of the first half, with Christian Doidge cutting inside and striking low for his 27th goal of the season and moments later Woolery grabbed his second, sliding the ball past Scott Davies as he pickpocketed Liam Ridehalgh.
Micky Mellon’s side had their chances, with Cole Stockton’s attempted lob in the second half being their most notable effort as Cooper’s side become the smallest club, in terms of population, to compete in the Football League and bring an end to a 19-year spell in the fifth tier.
Forest Green remained unchanged from the side that triumphed against Dagenham over two legs.
Meanwhile, Tranmere made one change with former Forest Green forward Andy Mangan replacing James Wallace in attack.
Forest Green started nervy and it was evident with a couple of poor passes coming from Mark Ellis, notably.
But, it was Cooper’s side that had the first real effort on goal with Liam Noble firing a freekick over from 20 yards after Steve McNulty had fouled top goalscorer Doidge.
Carlisle loanee Ellis found Doidge with a long throw and his header flew onto the top of the net just before the 20 minute mark.
On the half hour, forward James Norwood came close to a Tranmere equaliser as he was placed one-on-one with the Russell, but the keeper blocked the shot well.
A wonderful long ball forward by Dale Bennett found Keanu Marsh-Brown and his first touch allowed him to attempt to lob the on-rushing Davies, but he recovered fantastically with half time beckoning at Wembley.
The Super White Army had one more chance of their own, before the end of the first half; Connor Jennings picked up the ball inside the Forest Green penalty area and a low pass looking for Andy Mangan, was inches away from being dispatched as the ball trickled out of play.
Mellon’s Tranmere predictably responded in the second half, Jeff Hughes’ in-swinging corner was met by the head of Stockton, but Russell dived low and kept Forest Green two-goals ahead.
The drama continued 10 minutes after the restart, Russell was caught out by Stockton in his own penalty area and the Tranmere forward attempted to lob the shotstopper, but fortunately his lob went over.
Minutes later, substitute Jack Dunn nearly made an instant impact, firing an unexpected long-range effort inches wide of the mark.
Dunn was starting to threaten as his cross found Stockton ,who headed wide after Marsh-Brown failed to stay with him, which was his last action as he was substituted.
Newly-introduced Dan Wishart gained plenty of yards with his first contribution of the game before offloading to captain Noble, who scuffed his lines as the score remained 3-1.
Former Bristol Rovers midfielder Jeff Hughes was next to assault the Forest Green goal with an effort from distance going comfortably wide with 20 minutes to go.
Chances petered out and tempers flared with minutes remaining after Hughes nudged Noble over as Forest Green came out from playoffs victorious at the third attempt, which followed by ecstatic scenes from the travelling fans.
| 14 May 2017|
|Tranmere Rovers||1–3||Forest Green Rovers|| Wembley Stadium, London|
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
|Jennings 22'||Report|| Woolery 12', 44'|
|National League play-offs|