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  • Chris Sobey

Football


The EFL Championship, League One and Two play-offs take centre stage this weekend and the final day of the 2017/2018 Premier League Season is on Sunday. The first EFL play-off first leg took place last night between League One Charlton and Shrewsbury at The Valley and the visitors emerged victorious, leaving it late to snatch a valuable 1-0 win with only ten minutes remaining. This sets up the return leg at New Meadow on Sunday very nicely and don’t rule out a shock Charlton win as they won nine of their twenty-three league away matches this season.

Tonight’s first leg play-off action is from the Championship between Derby and Fulham, who just missed out on automatic promotion after being thrashed away at Birmingham 3-1 and a 0-0 draw for Cardiff against Reading, was enough to earn them a well-deserved return to the Premier League. Fulham are favourites to win the Championship Play-Offs and on form they should however, Derby are no pushovers and if they can utilise their first-leg home advantage and put some pressure on Fulham for the return leg, it would not be a massive surprise if they pulled off the upset and progressed to the final at the expense of the Cottagers.

Saturday’s play-off action includes a first-leg Championship blockbuster between two former Premier League sides, Middlesbrough and Aston Villa at the Riverside. This is a tough result to call with Boro proving strong at home this season winning fourteen and losing only six, while Villa were tough to beat on the road winning ten and losing nine.

There’s the other League One play-off between Scunthorpe and Rotherham at Glanford Park at lunchtime and two League Two first-leg matches today between Lincoln and Exeter at Sincil Bank at 3pm and Coventry and Notts County at the Ricoh Arena at 7pm. There’s little between Scunthorpe and Rotherham heading in to this encounter, both haven been in good form of late, winning more than losing, but I think Rotherham have been playing just that bit better leading in to the play-offs and they’ll be tough to beat tomorrow.

The first League Two first-leg pay off between Lincoln and Exeter will be a fiercely contested encounter as Lincoln lost only three times at Sincil Bank in the League this season, while Exeter won nine and drew four of their twenty-three away games and their form leading in to the play-offs has been much better than Lincolns. The second first leg tie between Coventry and Notts County is a big game for two sides whose form has been average leading in to the play-offs, but they are both in the top-10 league home and away form table for the last ten league matches, Coventry seventh and Notts County tenth.

Coventry will be tough to beat at home after winning thirteen and drawing four of their twenty-three league home matches season, Notts County are tough nits to crack as well and they were unbeaten away in the league in just over 50% of their matches. Both teams have some experience of some big stakes games this season, from their FA Cup exploits, which will no doubt prove to be invaluable experience over the next two games.


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