The penultimate round of EFL fixtures did not disappoint, with action going on up and down the land with some clubs fate being deciding, whilst others have left themselves with work to do on the the final day.
Norwich deservedly got their hands on the Championship trophy at Carrow Road following a comfortable 4-1 victory over Reading. Fellow promoted side Watford were defeated by Brentford, handing the Canaries the title.
Both clubs have been promoted back to the top flight at the first time of asking, and many clubs can learn lessons from how Norwich especially dealt with relegation, sticking with Daniel Farke who rewarded their loyalty with another Championship title for the perennial yo-yo club.
Relegation picture still unclear
While the top spots have been decided in the Championship, it is the complete opposite at the bottom with no clubs mathematically down as we head into the final round of fixtures.
Sheffield Wednesday earned a crucial point in the early kick off after a goalless draw with Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough. For Wednesday fans it was then all eyes to South Wales, where they knew they would be relegated if Wayne Rooney’s Derby got a point or more against Swansea.
So, when Tom Lawrence put the Rams in front just after half time, Wednesday certainly would’ve been fearing the worst. However, Derby’s joy was only short lived, as Swansea netted twice around the hour mark. It was heartbreak for the visitors, but gave Rotherham, who were trailing to Blackburn at the time, the glimmer of hope they needed.
There was late drama at The New York stadium, Lewis Wing blasting home a cracking free kick to claim a priceless point for the Millers, who, unlike their rivals, have two fixtures left.
Wycombe prolonged their mathematical status for another week as they beat Bournemouth 1-0 at Adams Park. The Chairboys sit three points off safety, but would need a 12 point swing to stay up on the final day.
So, Rotherham have it in their hands, if they win both of their two remaining fixtures they will stay up. However, if the Millers drop any points in either of those two, Derby will have the chance at home to Sheffield Wednesday next week to ensure their survival. Wednesday are also relying on Paul Warne’s Rotherham, and would need to beat Derby on the final day to have any chance of staying in the second tier.
Hopefully that didn’t confuse you, but it all makes for an enthralling last round of fixtures next weekend at the bottom and who knows what is going to happen.
Posh up, Dale and Cobblers down
After eight seasons away Peterborough United finally are a Championship club again after gaining the point they needed against Lincoln, however that really doesn’t do the drama that occurred at London Road justice.
For the majority of the afternoon it looked as if it was going to be a final day showdown between the sides for promotion, as the Imps lead by three midway through the second half. An Anthony Scully brace and a Jorge Grant penalty meant Michael Appleton’s Lincoln led, as Posh seemed to unravel for the second time in a week as their fans prepared for a promotion party.
Siriki Dembele and Jonson Clarke-Harris then made it interesting as the game entered the dying embers. Then there was an extremely controversial moment in which a penalty was given for the hosts for a challenge on Sammie Szmodics in injury time, it looked very, very harsh on the defender.
No one would’ve doubted Clarke-Harris putting the ball home, and he duly delivered, cueing pandemonium as Peterborough’s promotion was confirmed. Darren Ferguson has lead his team brilliantly this season, resisting large amounts of pressure towards the end to bring Posh up, a great day for the club, while Lincoln are left to battle it out in the play offs.
While there were joyous scenes at London Road, the mood at Scotland and Sixfields was very different, as both Rochdale and Northampton Town were condemned to relegation to League Two.
The Dale have struggled defensively all season long under Brian Barry-Murphy, and it was the same old story today as they went two goals down to Doncaster as Taylory Richards bagged two. Matt Done gave the hosts some hope towards the end but Donny resisted ay possible fightback, with Rochdale returning to fourth tier football for the first time since 2014.
After winning the League Two play offs last season, it was an immediate return to that level for Northampton Town as they suffered a 3-0 defeat at home to Blackpool. It was a fairly toothless surrender from the Cobblers, their chances of survival slowly drifting away as the afternoon went on. These defeats meant Wigan’s survival was confirmed, with things finally looking up for the Latics.
Dark day for Southend, Bolton and Cambridge suffer setbacks
Despite beating Barrow, Southend United fell out of The Football League for the first time in over a century, a dark, dark day in The Shrimper’s long history. Financial troubles have been at the heart of their demise as they suffered back to back relegations. Hopefully they can bounce straight back from The National League, a league that is notoriously difficult to get out of, as plenty of big clubs have found out over the years.
With Southend and Grimsby’s relegation to non league confirmed then, it meant Colchester and Scunthorpe were safe for another year, while Barrow and Harrogate will be pleased following successful seasons after promotion last campaign.
Harrogate were involved in one of the games of the season last night as they beat Cambridge 5-4, denying Cambridge promotion once again. A point would’ve sent United up to League One, but a late Kevin Lokko winner meant they will have to wait until the last day to decide their destiny.
Bolton Wanderers fans were outside the ground waiting to celebrate as they knew a win against Exeter would see them get promoted back to the third tier, but the Whites were dealt a huge blow as a 90th minute winner for the visitors Exeter kept Morecambe’s faint automatic promotion hopes alive.
Morecambe did what they needed to do as they comfortably beat Walsall 2-0, leaving them 2 points off Cambridge and just a sole point behind Bolton. Cambridge play Grimsby, Bolton travel to Crawley, while Morecambe host Bradford, all with a chance of going up. What a finale it is set to be in the fourth tier.
What an afternoon of action it was, the final day is setup perfectly to be as exciting as ever, I for one can’t wait to see how it all plays out.