Jonathan Oakes is joined by Keith Andrews and Daniel Mann to discuss a frantic penultimate weekend in the Championship, League One and League Two.
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In the Championship a defeat for Derby set up a superbly-poised final week of action down at the bottom, as Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday battle for safety, while Norwich sealed the title at the top.
Hull were crowned League One champions, while Peterborough confirmed their promotion in dramatic style, and Northampton and Rochdale were condemned to the drop.
The panel also review all the League Two action, after Cambridge and Bolton missed big chances to join Cheltenham in sealing promotion, while Southend were relegated to end their 101-year stay in the Football League.
All leagues and angles are covered in this week’s show, but here were some of the main talking points…
Derby set for final-day drama after yet another defeat
For a brief spell on Saturday Derby looked safe from relegation as they led at Swansea, but a quick turn of events led to a 2-1 defeat – their sixth in a row – and they are heading to a final-day tussle with Sheffield Wednesday as they battle for survival.
Andrews: “They didn’t really fully exert themselves. It was a tentative, cautious performance, and understandably nervy. The confidence has been drained from a lot of the players, you look and you think there is undoubted quality there, but you want a little bit more from them.
“The way the game swung back so quickly in Swansea’s direction, it was a staggering few minutes and you could see how shell-shocked the Derby bench was.”
Sheff Wed on the brink with eyes on Rotherham
Sheffield Wednesday did just about enough to stay afloat in the Championship on Saturday as they drew 0-0 against Nottingham Forest. They are three points behind Derby heading into that huge game, but will also have an eye on Rotherham – who are level on points with them but have a game in hand at Luton on Tuesday night, and a much-superior goal difference. A victory for the Millers would leave Wednesday in real trouble.
Mann: “With the exception of Barry Bannan it was hard to see a real sense of belief from them. We talk about the goal difference situation, and it doesn’t look like they have a massive prospect of improving that – as it didn’t look like there was much prospect of them scoring in that game [against Forest]. They got into good positions but then good decision-making was lacking.
“It did not reek of a team who are confident that they can make something happen by their own efforts. It’s very concerning, and obviously you’ve had the off-field [issues] as well, which has caused a lot of this trouble.”
Peterborough earn dramatic promotion from League One
Peterborough booked their spot in the Championship on Saturday after a remarkable comeback from three goals down against Lincoln. A last-gasp Jonson Clarke-Harris penalty sealed a 3-3 draw and second spot in League One. The club will feel particularly vindicated after their push for promotion last season was denied by the curtailment of the campaign.
Andrews: “It says a lot about them. It was difficult circumstances last season and most felt for them when it was curtailed because they had been on a really, really good run.
“I’ve got a lot of admiration for the way they’ve gone about it. The owner Darragh MacAnthony nicknamed this season ‘operation vengeance’, and they’ve certainly achieved that.”
Northampton, Rochdale drop into League Two
The final two relegation spots in League One were filled on Saturday, with Rochdale and Northampton joining Swindon and Bristol Rovers. Dale, in particular, have been an extremely entertaining watch at times this season under Brian Barry-Murphy, but a weakness at a back is what cost them in the end.
Andrews: “That’s been the problem. I was rooting for Barry-Murphy because there aren’t many Irish managers around. I could see what he was trying to implement, but the defensive vulnerability of the whole team too often this season has cost them.
“You go back two weeks ago and they had won three on the bounce, but then the result against AFC Wimbledon in particular, with that last-minute Joe Pigott equaliser, that was the blow that really saw them off at the time. That really hurt them.”
Bolton, Cambridge miss chance to go up
Bolton and Cambridge both missed chances over the weekend to seal their promotion from League Two, and the battle for the last two automatic-promotion spots will go to the final day. Remarkably, both could still win the title or finish in the play-offs.
Mann: “The mind will play a massive part in it. It will be an extraordinary day, and the permutations will be crazy. It will be quite a watch I would think, and it’s all down to how you handle the pressure.”
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