The final week of the regular Football League season is upon us. There'll be heartbreak and tears for sure this weekend as teams aim for titles, a play-off finish and to survive in their respective divisions. There's no going back from here an no extra games - unless you do indeed make it in the play-offs. So, we've picked out our five picks to add on to your accumulator. Get on them if you dare!
With a chance to lift the title come the end of the game, there’ll be sure to be a party atmosphere when already-promoted Newcastle take on Barnsley at St. James’ Park in the Championship for the final game of the season. Barnsley have had a very solid season following their return to the Championship and head to the north-east with just one win in their last 14 and without a victory in their last four matches in the league. The Toon have won their last two and haven’t lost in their last five home games – winning four of them.
Burton are safe and sound for another season in the Championship – a superb achievement by Nigel Clough and his side, in all honesty. Another side to have surprised the masses this term in the Championship is Reading, who have missed out on the automatic promotion places, but are secure in the play-offs, which is quite an achievement for Jaap Stam in his first season in charge of the Royals. We expect to see Stam rest a few players for the play-off semi-finals, whilst a few in Clough’s squad are playing for contracts with the club or even elsewhere.
A win for the hosts secures their place in the play-offs, handy then that they are at home to a dire Leyton Orient side who have ownership issues and are already relegated out of the Football League. A win will keep Blackpool in seventh or even sixth – dependant on Carlisle United’s result. The Tangerines have only lost four times at home this term – only promoted Doncaster Rovers have a better loss rate than that – whilst Leyton Orient are likely to once again play a youthful looking side for the long trip north to the seaside for their final EFL trip for at least a year.
Fresh from ‘mutually agreeing’ to terminate the contract of boss Dermot Drummy this week, Crawley striker Matt Harrold has stepped into the breach and will take his place in the dugout for a debut as manager. And this is somebody who also had a brief stint in goal for the Reds a couple of seasons ago, conceding a goal to some fella called Dele Alli who was playing for MK Dons at the time. Wonder what happened to him? Mansfield still have hopes of sneaking into the play-offs but will need to win and have results go their way if that’s to happen. That wily old fox Steve Evans being up against his old employers adds more spice to this last game of the season in West Sussex.
A sell out is expected at RodneyParade and hosts Newport know a win will keep them up and complete an unlikely turnaround in fortunes since MikeFlynn took over the reigns from GrahamWestley. In fact, in the opposite dugout sees another slightly inexperienced manager with KevinNolan currently in charge of NottsCounty – themselves turning things around since the turn of the year to ensure they will have next season in League2 again. Newport will want this more for our money and know exactly what is needed. A draw will have them looking on and seeing how HartlepoolUnited get on across the border. Nervy moments which County fans won’t be wanting.
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