With only three games left in the Sky Bet Championship season, four games for some teams, the race to achieve promotion to the Premier League is drawing to a close and it is a tight race to the top.
In the Championship, the top two teams achieve automatic promotion, and the teams that finish in the 3-6 spots have a playoff to decide the third team that gets to play in the Premier League. So far, Middlesbrough (the team that lost in last year’s playoff final to Norwich) and Burnley (a team that was recently relegated from the Prem) are holding down the number one and two spots, respectively. They have also assured themselves a spot in at least the playoffs, no matter the results of their remaining games.
Brighton & Hove Albion, Hull City, Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday are settled in the 3-6 spots, with all but Sheffield Wednesday having clinched a place in the playoffs. Let us take a further look at these spots to see who will clinch automatic glory and which ones will have to battle it out in the playoff.
The top three spots are still up for grabs as Middlesbrough, Burnley, and Brighton & Hove Albion being separated by only two points with three games left. Hull City can also contest for the top two spots as they sit only eight points away from the top two, and they have the added benefit of having an extra game to play.
Middlesbrough and Burnley played this past Tuesday and it was a heavily contested match between both. Neither could pull ahead of one another as the game ended in a 1-1 draw, that saw Jordan Rhodes score for ‘Boro only to see their three points slip away in stoppage time with Michael Keane’s goal for Burnley. With that result, both teams made no significant progress on one another.
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) 20 de abril de 2016
Brighton & Hove Albion, on the other hand went to town on poor QPR who had no answer for the strong BHA offense, as they were handed a 4-0 loss at the hands of The Seagulls. Anthony Knockaert had himself a game scoring two goals and notching an assist for the Gulls, meanwhile Jiri Skalák and Connor Goldson scored the other two goals in the game. With that result, Brighton moved up level in points with Burnley, but are four goals shy of Burnley’s 32 goal differential.
Hull City had quite the win as well, beating 15th place Reading 2-1 to keep their top spot in the playoff positions. After going down early in the fourth minute, Hull managed to salvage the game in a big way scoring at the 18th minute mark thanks to Abel Hernández and went ahead in the score line when Andrew Robertson score in the 78th minute to secure the win for the Tigers.
Derby County also maintained themselves within striking distance of Hull and the second place playoff position with a victory against Bristol City by a score of 2-3. Even though Bristol City is in fourth from the bottom of the table they managed to give Derby a run for their money. After Johnny Russell gave Derby the lead in the 37th minute, Bristol answered back immediately with a goal in the 38th and another before the close of the half. However, the second half was all Derby as they managed to score in the 52nd and 57th minute courtesy of Craig Bryson and Thomas Ince to give them the big three points.
Sheffield Wednesday was the only team not to help their own cause as they drew to a scoreless draw against relegation threatened Milton Keynes Dons. In what was a wild second half, Sheffield Wednesday saw four of their players receive yellows and even saw veteran midfielder Ross Wallace get sent off with seven minutes to play. Because of his expulsion, Sheffield Wednesday was forced to defend for the rest of the game and managed a draw against MK Dons.
This result keeps Cardiff in the running for the last playoff spot, but a Sheffield Wednesday win against Derby and a Cardiff loss can essentially secure the final spot in the promotion playoff.