THE climax to another enthralling Championship season arrives this Saturday lunchtime, with two promotion positions to be resolved.
Southampton, who are odds-on favourites to join champions elect Reading in automatic promotion to the Premier League, take on an already relegated Coventry City in front of a sold-out St Mary’s Stadium, with a win securing second spot.
Nigel Adkin’s side are looking to make it back-to-back promotions after last year’s success in League One and promotion this season would end a seven-year absence from the top flight.
Any kind of slip-up though by the Saints and West Ham United are poised to pounce, having lost just once in their previous 17 games. The Hammers take on Hull City at Upton Park.
Victory at Leicester City on Monday night has given them a final opportunity to steal back second place, a position they had occupied for the majority of the season.
On paper, the outcome looks straightforward for the Saints, but you just never know and as football experts say, it’s a funny old game.
Meanwhile, the final play-off position will also be decided this weekend.
Cardiff, who currently occupy sixth place, are on 72 points and travel to Crystal Palace, while Middlesbrough, lying two points below, travel to Watford.
A draw for the Welsh side will be enough, unless Tony Mowbray’s side win by 10 clear goals.
The other play-off spots are sorted, with Blackpool and Birmingham occupying the other two places.
Bristol City’s win last weekend secured their status in the Championship for next season, and in doing so sent Portsmouth down, along with Coventry City and Doncaster Rovers.
Whatever happens it promises to be a cracking afternoon of Championship football, with drama, delirium and despair no doubt in evidence at many of the grounds.
I think the Saints will draw at St Mary’s, and this will (just) be enough to claim second spot, while I can’t see beyond regulars Cardiff for the final play-off place.
Final day fixtures (12.30pm kick-off)
Barnsley v Brighton
Birmingham v Reading
Burnley v Bristol City
Crystal Palace v Cardiff
Derby v Peterborough
Doncaster v Ipswich
Leeds v Leicester
Milwall v Blackpool
Notts Forest v Portsmouth
Southampton v Coventry
Watford v Middlesbrough
West Ham v Hull
Automatically promoted: Reading, Southampton/West Ham
Play-offs: Southampton/West Ham, Blackpool, Birmingham, Cardiff/Middlesbrough
Relegated: Portsmouth, Coventry, Doncaster
Which two teams do you think will join Reading in the Premiership next season?
Leave your thoughts below!