The Championship – the final day

by James Cartwright

Robbie Brady HullThe Championship final day is one of the highlights of the football season, full of twists and turns it is a day of great excitement and that of great fear. With two relegation spots up for grabs and a automatic spot left for the taking, what will the final day throw up this season?

The battle for the final automatic promotion spot is one between Hull & Watford. Hull have lagged recently and are stuttering to the finish line. No wins in the last three, it has left Steve Bruce resisting not to panic. The final day conjures up perhaps the most difficult game of the season on paper, a home game with Cardiff. Despite the Bluebirds wrapping up the title last week, it can’t be denied that they want to end the season on a high. Steve Bruce has a resilient attitude about the situation:

We need to dust ourselves down and get ready to go again.

Hull have been characterised by the solid nature of their shape and style, on Saturday they simply need to get the job done.

Breathing down their necks are Watford, the Hornets have been luscious to watch this season with their slick passing and movement. An excellent performance at Leicester has put them into a good position to knock Hull off their perch. Leeds provide an infrequent outfit, they have not yet found their level under Brian McDermott and are very much building for next season. Watford at 100% should play them off the park no question.

The final playoff spots are still up for grabs, the two games to look out for are Nottingham Forest vs Leicester and Bolton vs Blackpool. The former is a Midlands derby, it should throw up a highly energetic encounter as is the normality between the two sides. Leicester have been on awful form in recent months, with only one win in eleven games it quite astounding how they are still with a shout. Nottingham Forest are chugging along on their final feet, an efficient win at Millwall keeps them well in the hunt. Unbeaten since January at the City Ground, the Forest fans could play a key part on the final day.

Bolton face an all Lancashire affair to finish off the job, currently ahead of Nottingham Forest on goal difference a win should see them seal sixth position. Blackpool have been improving under Paul Ince and do provide comparatively better opposition than if the tie was a few months ago. Tom Ince could be making his last competitive appearance for Blackpool and will to end on a high. However Bolton’s extremely efficient home record should see them across the finish line.

The final relegation places are the biggest fear of those at the bottom, Peterborough have been perhaps the most hit and miss side of the season. They definitely need Saturday to be a hit, facing a trip to London to take on Crystal Palace. They have chosen a good time to play the Eagles who have been lacklustre and far from their energetic selves in recent weeks. After a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday last week, three points should be enough to see Peterborough survive.

Barnsley face a Yorkshire derby to salvage their season, last week against Hull they showed there improved attitude under David Filtcroft with quiet a convincing result. Huddersfield provide an opponent needing only a point to survive, Mark Robins has took his time warming to the job, but he is finally getting some good football from the players. On loan striker James Vaughan will look to extend his goal tally as he sets to prove he’s still ‘got it’.

Phone calls, anxious internet checks. The final day will conjure up a feeling of great emotion, set for an absolute grandstand finish. Eyes should be only glued to action from the Championship on Saturday lunch time.

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