Preview – Championship Final Day

by James Cartwright

So here we are again, another dramatic end to what has been one of the most interesting Championship season’s in years. Reading wrapped up their promotion after making a dash to the finish since the start of 2012 and Portsmouth, Coventry and Doncaster all had to go through the pain of relegation.

However there is still lots to be decided, the final race for the final playoff place is still on, as Cardiff are looking to secure their third consecutive playoff place. However, Middlesbrough’s resilience against Southampton ensured that they would take their season to the last day. Cardiff have the small matter of drawing with Crystal Palace, while Middlesbrough will rely on Cardiff slipping up as well getting three points at Vicarage Road, something they haven’t managed to do since their relegation in 2009. Cardiff’s recent record at Selhurst Park hasn’t been the best, failing to win their last two visits, something that will give Boro fans (including me) some encouragement. But their good run of form that has seen them drop two points since the Easter weekend could pull them clear of Boro.

The race for the final automatic promotion spot also seemed like it was over with Southampton five points clear before the penultimate game. But a Southampton defeat at the Riverside and Jack Collinson’s low drive against Leicester handing West Ham all three, the battle is very much is still. Southampton still have it in their hands and they have a gimme at home against already relegated Coventry. But complacency could cost them, as it cost them promotion at Riverside on Saturday and it could cost them again when they play what will be a fearless, Coventry side.

West Ham, on the other hand, will surely go out with a fearless, nothing to lose attitude against a Hull City side that was gunning for promotion earlier in the season but fizzled out since the star of the year. West Ham will hope to emulate a similar performance against the Tigers that they had at the KC in November, when they secured a comfortable 2-0 win. It’s a make or break situation for West Ham, its either get promoted or face the consequences and after all the money spent in the transfer market they really have not lived up to expectations. The fear is a they won’t make it if they finish third as the failure to make the automatic places could cost them in the playoffs. Southampton, meanwhile are looking to do what Norwich did last year and secure back to back promotions for League 1 and Championship.

A promotion to the Premier League would surely open up new doors for the Saints as they look to forget their dreaded time in League one and the administration in 2009.

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