With just a couple of games left of the Championship season, the top two positions are all but decided. Fulham were justly promoted on Saturday following a 1-1 draw with title rivals Bournemouth. The point for Bournemouth, earned through a converted penalty late in injury time, helped ‘The Cherries’ edge tantalisingly closer to a return to the Premier League.
Outside of the top two, Huddersfield Town, Nottingham Forest and Luton Town are all virtually certain of a playoff place. Theoretically Middlesbrough, currently in eighth, could catch both Forest and Luton but that is highly unlikely. The final spot, in the immortal words of the late football commentator Brian Moore, is up for grabs.
Currently, Sheffield United occupy sixth position in the Championship table and Blades fans will be keen to see it remain that way. One more win would do it. United have a great opportunity to secure that sixth spot with an away win at QPR on Friday night. Doing so will not be easy. The R’s have enjoyed a good season, despite a dip in form as injuries took their toll on a squad lacking depth in the latter half of the campaign. Sheffield United entertain the champions elect (Fulham) on the final day of the season and they won’t want to be needing a result in that one!
If United do slip up, Millwall, Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers will all be hoping to seize upon the opportunity afforded to them. Millwall have the points in the bag and a home win against relegated Peterborough could put them level on points with United going into the final round of matches. Similarly to United, Millwall face a difficult final day away at Bournemouth.
Further down the table, Middlesbrough will believe that they still have a chance of getting among the top six despite a very poor run of form. They have three potentially winnable games: first at home to Cardiff City and Stoke, before a final day trip to mid-table Preston North End.
Blackburn Rovers will also give credence to their chances. They head to Preston this evening before a home game with Bournemouth and a final day trip down to Birmingham. It is difficult to see them picking up maximum points. A win tonight would be a welcome boost and put some pressure on the teams above them.
As any athlete will tell you, getting over the finish line is one of the most difficult things in sport. As Sheffield United edge ever closer to that sixth spot, they will be feeling the heat from the teams below them. Of that, you can be sure.