The SkyBet Leagues: How The Final Games Could Go.

Published: May 02, 2014 09:39am EDT
By Jason Bardwell, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated May 02, 2014 @ 09:39am EDT

 

Concentrating on the Premier League it is sometimes easy to forget that there is still a lot to play for in the other English Leagues also. From the SkyBet Championship all the way down to the SkyBet League Two playoff places and relegation places need to be sorted out. In League Two there is one particular game where the winner will stay in the league while the defeated team dropping out completely. Talk about nerves, pressure and hopefully drama!
In this piece I will talk you through the key games in all three leagues starting with the Championship.


CHAMPIONSHIP:

Leicester and Burnley will be playing in the Premier League next season. Their places have been secured and can relax somewhat and start planning for next season. Meanwhile Derby County and Queens Park Rangers (QPR) have secured the top and second playoff places respectively. Last years FA Cup winners, Wigan Athletic, have also secured their playoff berth but whether they play Derby or QPR will depend on which playoff position they end up in. Currently, in the third playoff place, they will match up with QPR. The 1st playoff position (3rd in League) playing the team in the 4th playoff place (6th in League) while 2nd playoff place (4th in League) plays the team in the third place (5th in League). I hope that makes sense.

Saturday, at 7:45 am ET, all the teams kick off for their final round of games and if Wigan can avoid a defeat away to Blackburn they will secure that game against QPR in the playoffs. It will not be easy though because with an outside chance of getting into that final playoff place is Blackburn. They will need a little bit of fortune though as firstly they will need to secure the win and then rely on two other results going their way.

One of those games would be for Nottingham Forest to avoid defeat when they host playoff hopefuls, Brighton. Forest will end up mid table no matter what but will welcome club legend and ex England U-21 Manager Stuart Pearce as their boss next season, but may want to close out the season on a high. Brighton will look to secure the win for their own playoff ambitions but again, like Blackburn, it is not totally in their own hands. For both sides they just have to do the business in their own game and then see where they are at full time.

The team in pole position heading into these games though, and my personal picks, would be Reading. Not only are they at home, they play the Burnley side who have already secured promotion and if they win then it doesn’t matter on the other results. 

I personally think that the playoff games will line up as follows: Derby v Reading and QPR v Wigan.

Heading to the wrong end of the League and we also have to find which side will join already relegated Barnsley and Yeovil in the SkyBet League One next season.

An outside bet would be Blackpool but in order for them to be in danger they would have to lose their game at home to Charlton and have three other results go against them.

Both Millwall and Doncaster have their own futures still in their own hands being two and one point above the relegation zone respectively. Millwall will host Bournemouth, who have nothing but League position to play for while Doncaster have a slightly more difficult trip to League Champions Leicester to negotiate. Leicester have already qualified but they may want to try to get to the 100pt mark, which they can get with a tied game. If that does happen, or a defeat, then it will be a nervous look 80 miles north west to Bolton where the Doncaster faithful will be hoping the home side will be doing the job against Birmingham. 

Birmingham are the team in the most peril going into the final day and a win may not even be enough to save them. Obviously if they win and the other mentioned teams also get victories then the table stay as it is. The positive for Birmingham is that their goal difference (goals scored minus goals conceded) is much better than the teams above them and so if they end the day level on points with any team then they will be safe. 

I think there will be lots of movement throughout the ninety minutes but in the end I think Doncaster will go down and Birmingham will survive.

 

SKYBET LEAGUE ONE:

At the top of this League everything has pretty much been sorted as to who is going up automatically and who is in the playoff. Wolves and Brentford have already secured their promotions and will be playing Championship football next season. Meanwhile Preston, Leyton Orient, Rotherham and Peterborough have all secured a playoff place, but their final positioning, with the exception of Peterborough, is still up for grabs. 

The kickoff times for all these games are at 10am ET and one of the games of interest would be the Crewe against Preston. If Preston were to win then not only will they secure a playoff game with Peterborough but they could also relegate Crewe. 

Leyton and Rotherham both travel away to MK Dons and Swindon respectively. Neither opponents have anything to play for other than ending their season, in front of their home fans, on a high. The final positions will determine who will play who in the playoffs and I think this is how they will lineup after the final whistles: Preston v Peterborough, Rotherham v Leyton Orient.
Down at the bottom there are two sides needed to join already relegated Stevenage and Shrewsbury. You have Crewe, as I already mentioned and their future is still in their own hands and a win will be enough. A tied game or defeat will make for a nervy look at one or both of the Tranmere and Carlisle results. Notts County are not mathematically safe but for them to be relegated they will have to lose away to Oldham while Crewe and Tranmere both win. 

From the two sides currently in those dreaded positions Tranmere have the best chance of escape. They are at home in their final game to mid table Bradford City. A win will mean any one of two teams (Crewe or Notts Co) slipping up would lift them out of the relegation zone. 
Slightly less guaranteed is the safety of Carlisle who are three points and a six goal swing from avoiding relegation. Carlisle are away to League Champions Wolverhampton Wanderers even if they win by a massive 4-0 they will still need Crewe to lose 3-0 and a Tranmere loss of any score. 

For that reason I think Carlisle will join the already relegated Stevenage and Shrewsbury with Crewe the most likely to join them. 

 

SKYBET LEAGUE TWO:

Just like the League One this top half of the table has pretty much been sorted with the playoff and promoted teams already identified. What is yet to be determined is the position, and therefore matchups, for the playoffs. Fleetwood have already secured the top playoff position and travel to already promoted Chesterfield for their final game. Meanwhile York travel to Scunthorpe while Southend host Burton to figure out the final league position. 

Chesterfield and Scunthorpe along with Rochdale (who visit Newport) have all secured promotion but will still be fighting to be League winners. That could make for a very interesting final day and an added story line with Rochdale potentially the only team playing against a side with nothing to fight for.

I think Rochdale will secure the League win and the playoffs will see Fleetwood play Burton and York facing Southend. 

At the bottom of the League I can sum it up in one sentence. Whoever loses when Torquay host Wycombe will drop out of the league. That’s right, the last game of the season sees the two teams still fighting against relegation facing off against each other. Torquay are two points behind Wycombe but have home advantage with their futures in their hands. The bonus for Wycombe is that they do not have to win in order to secure their League status as a draw will of course maintain the distance between the two. Will Wycombe park the bus and try for a 0-0? That would be a very dangerous game to play but whatever the tactics it will be a very emotional, nervous and hopefully exciting game to witness.


 

Comments (2)



  • Jason Bardwell   May 17, 2014 @ 03:51PM
    Picked five teams from a potential six in the various finals! I should have put money on the games! -

  • Jason Bardwell   May 2, 2014 @ 09:10PM
    Correction: There are actually two teams dropping out of the Sky Bet League Two and so Torquay are already down and Wycombe are all but relegated with them.
    That means that Bristol Rovers and Northampton are in danger if they lose on the last day and Wycombe win.
    Northampton host Oxford knowing their opposition have nothing really to play for. Bristol Rovers are also at home and host Mansfield in mid table. Both home teams know that as long as they don't lose, or Torquay get at least a point then it will be as it is at the bottom of the League. -

Jason Bardwell
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