SkyBet Playoffs Predictions: Who Will Move Up?

Published: May 05, 2014 09:15am EDT
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated May 05, 2014 @ 09:15am EDT


I have tried to keep you as up to date as I can on the Leagues below the Premiership in England and on Saturday we saw some fantastic last minute twists and turns. In the Championship it was a late goal at Birmingham which secured their League status at the expense of Doncaster Rovers. Doncaster will now join Barnsley and Yeovil in dropping down to League One. 
That Division will see Tranmere and Carlisle join Shrewsbury and Stevenage in dropping down in League Two despite valiant efforts from both at the end. Dropping out of the Football League completely are Torquay and Bristol Rovers with the latter losing at home by the single goal when all they needed was a point. The great escape was made possible for Wycome who secured a 3-0 win away to Torquay and leapfrog above Rovers, if only on goal difference. 
The relegation for each of these three Divisions are all sorted out now but in the next few weeks we will start to pick out which teams will move up in the playoffs. Here, League by League, is a look at the hopefuls and dates for the rounds. We start with SkyBet League Two:


York v Fleetwood (May 10th and May 16th):

Despite losing on the final day, Fleetwood Town secured their fourth place finish and so therefore will have to travel to York now for their first game of a two legged playoff process. When they traveled there in the regular season they came away with a 2-0 victory. Although that was in October, the Fleetwood side would certainly almost guarantee their progression to the final on May 26th at Wembley if they can get a similar result when they meet this Saturday.

The return fixture takes place six days later and historically Fleetwood has the advantage. In their eight league meetings, dating back to August 2010, Fleetwood has a clear advantage. York has only won one time on Fleetwoods ground in eight games and lost three times on their own ground. All the statistics point to Fleetwood progressing and I cannot argue against that. 
Prediction: Fleetwood Progressing.  


Burton v Southend (May 11th and May 17th):

These two teams met in the last game of the season and the Southend win put the east coast side above their opponents on goal difference. If Burton are to progress in this knockout stage then they will have to do better than when they faced them in the League. Both games this season ended in 1-0 wins to Southend but historically it is much tighter. 

Burton have actually won half their games at Southend’s ground (Roots Hall) while at the Burton Albion ground (Pirelli Stadium) everything is equal. I still think momentum is on Southends side though and the fact they won twice this season will no doubt play on the minds of the Burton Albion players minds.

Prediction: Southend Progressing.


FINAL (26th May):

Fleetwood v Southend:

Of course this is a total prediction and the final could just as easily be a Burton v York game. However I think this is the most likely and will base by prediction on that. The real difficulty here for whichever teams turn up to Wembley on the 26th. The condition of the field will be a real question and probably more of a battle for the teams. The stadium would have hosted the FA Cup Final and the Conference playoff the previous weekend before hosting the Championship and League One playoff games in the two days prior to this one kicking off. That really doesn’t give the ground staff much turnaround time and depending on the weather it could be a mud puddle come kick off.

All being equal Southend will once again have the slight edge going into the game. A win earlier on in the season followed by a tied game a few weeks ago mean that the team I have a soft spot for could see themselves up to League One. Of course the fact one of my favorite players, Shaun Goater played a season for the Seasiders helps. In the four times these two sides have met Fleetwood are yet to win, although they have only lost the once. What a time it would be for the Cod Army to get that first win against Southend. If these two sides do meet up in the final as I predict then I can only see (and hope) my Southend side get the victory.  



Peterborough v Leyton Orient (May 10th and May 13th):

Once again I can only go on the previous meetings between the two to try to figure out who will go through and play for the chance of moving up to the Championship. Peterborough are on a decent run as the season ended with just one defeat in their last six games. There was a tied game in their final game of the season but the fact is their playoff position had already been secured and so you cannot read much into that. 

Earlier on in the season Peterborough lost to Leyton Orient 3-1 at home in November but then won away 2-1 in February. 

Historically at London Road, Peterborough’s ground, Leyton have the slight advantage with six wins to the Posh’s five. Four games ended in a tie which wouldn’t be too bad for the Orient. It doesn’t get much better reading for Peterborough when they travel away to Orients ground three days later. Statistics on that shows Peterborough only winning five of the fifteen total games. 
For that reason I have to go against the borough and pick the Orient to progress.

Prediction: Leyton Orient Progressing.


Preston v Rotherham (May 10th and May 15th):

This is slightly more difficult to call, with both teams finished within a point of each other. The first game at Rotherham’s ground (which happens to be called the New York Stadium) happened in just the second game of the season and it resulted in a 0-0 draw. The return game in February also couldn’t split the teams although was probably more exciting as it finished 3-3. 

Historically it doesn’t get much easier to separate the teams either. Overwhelmingly each side has the better of this fixture on their home ground and so it comes down to who can do the best on their own turf. The prediction for this is going to be very tough but I think I have to go for Rotherham just based on the better form coming into the games 

Prediction: Rotherham Progresses.


FINAL (25th May):

Leyton Orient v Rotherham:

Again, this may not be how the playoffs play out but lets just say I am a footballing genius and it does. Which of these two teams are more likely to head on up, with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Brentford to the Championship.

Rotherham and Leyton Orient have both won one game each against the other this season and both the wins came for the home side of the day. Rotherham won 2-1 on their ground while losing 1-0 away.

This will be a different game though and the field at Wembley can drain the legs as the game and field feels so much bigger. The last time these two sides met in a playoff game was back in 1999 when penalties had to decide who would progress to the Final. In the 60 total meetings between the two sides Rotherham have won almost double the amount of games, 27 to Leyton Orient’s 14. For that reason I’d have to go for it to be Millers time, Rotherham to win.



Brighton v Derby County (May 8th and May 11th):
The lead up to the big money game starts with this match and finishes four days later with two teams going to Wembley with the winners being promoted into the big money Premier League. Whichever one of these two sides progress will be a great story with Derby County one of the original twelve sides which made up the Football League in 1888. 126 years later and they could be back in the division for the first time since their 2008 relegation. In that season they recorded the Premier Leagues lowest ever points tally and were relegated by March. That is fantastic history when compared to their opponents who last graced the top flight back in 1983. Either side to get through to the Playoff final will get the support of the neutral I suspect.

To the game though and Derby had the better of the two League meetings between the two sides with a 2-1 away win being followed up later in the season by a 1-0 win. 
Historically though it is a different story with each team having eight League wins on their own grounds from the total of twenty eight games total.

Prediction: Derby County Progressing 


Wigan v QPR (May 9th and May 12th):

A battle between two of the three sides relegated from the Premier League last season. Big money QPR face last seasons FA Cup winners Wigan and whichever team goes forward will have to be considered favorites for promotion. 

Wigan have done well this season to be in contention for a return tp the Premiership but with their Europa League participation and another good run in the FA Cup I am not sure how much gas they still have left in the tank. 

During the season these two sides tied their first game at home and lost the return game at Loftus Road. Historically it looks as if the London side has the edge also with games being held at the DW Stadium being shared equally between the two sides, but at Loftus Road, Wigan have only won the single game. 

I think just because of the sheer amount of games already played by Wigan so far this season, the results this season and the historical data I have to go for QPR.

Prediction: QPR Progressing. 


FINAL (24th May):

Derby County v QPR:

Back in the late 1960's and early 1970's Derby County were managed by an Englishman who is considered the greatest manager to never manage the National team. After the appointment of Roy Hodgson the current QPR manager, Harry Redknapp can also add his name to that list. Ironicaly enough Derby County is now managed by an ex National team manager who is probably considered the worst of our time, so that just goes to show you the FA selection process. 

To the game though and if this is the game then you would have to say that the pressure is on Queens Park Rangers. After spending a ton of money and incurring fines for that it is probably more vital to the QPR bank balance than it would be for Derby County.
In the forty two League games between the two teams, QPR have only won twelve games and Derby have the slight advantage with fifteen wins. That means fifteen of the games were tied but with extra time an option and then penalties, there will certainly be a victor before the stadium doors are locked and bolted.

Prediction: Derby County. 


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Jason Bardwell
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