The Football Season has come to an end for 20 sides in SkyBet League Two but for four of them, the training doesn’t stop with a potential Wembley date on the horizon and promotion via the most exciting method for one of the sides.
Sheffield Wednesday v Brighton.
The first tie in the Championship pits 3rd and 6th placed sides who are going into the game with very different mind sets.
Brighton finished just behind the front two, on the same number of points as 2nd place Middlesbrough.
Their last time match was a winner takes all affair which saw ‘Boro come through and take the automatic promotion place.
The faces of Brighton’s players as they trudged off the Riverside pitch told a story, they will take some serious motivation to get their heads right for the play-offs.
In contrast, Sheffield Wednesday have been secure of their place in the play offs for a while, ending the season five points clear of any other side and have been preparing for this match, arguably for a week or two.
In their last game they took the chance to rest a number of key players including Keiron Westwood in goal, Fernando Forestieri up front and Glen Loovens at the back.
That extra prep time will stand those players in good stead, the Brighton players didn’t have that luxury.
Dale Stephens, the scorer for the Seagulls was sent off for a challenge on ‘Boro midfielder Gaston Ramirez and will miss the play off semis, another potential stumbling block.
So, with Wednesday in the ascendency, it’s the Owls I’ll be backing to make it to the Wembley showpiece – more Brighton play-off misery, their third failure in the last four season.
SkyBet Price Boost – Forestieri to score and Sheffield Wednesday to win – was 5/2, now 9/2.
Derby v Hull.
On Saturday, the other two teams come face to face and like Sheffield Wednesday, they have known their fate – and likely opponents – for a while, giving lots of preparation time to both sides.
That’s why, this match is so tough to call, both sides have given key players a break or two over the last couple of games.
Derby have the first chance to impress in front of a home crowd and I feel that playing at home second could be the key.
That’s why, if Hull get through the first game with a result of any kind, I’d fancy them to over power the Rams on home soil.
Derby have had a topsy turvy season, stuttering enough to relieve their first head coach, Paul Clement, of his duties before settling themselves and keeping their heads above the line.
Both these sides have picked up 14 points from their last 8 games, so there are little clues to take from the form guide.
They did however win both league games against the Humber side and that throws up more question than answers as I was more than ready to side with the Tigers over the Rams – it’s the food chain all over again… right?
This tie all comes down to the first leg in my opinion, two sides who’ll not want to chase the game in the second leg, if Hull get anything they’ll prevail at the KC, if Derby can take a lead to the Hull, you’d be fancying them to defend it.
So, I’m settling slap bang in the middle, a draw this Saturday.
Going by the above theory, if the first game does end in a tie, I’d fancy Hull to progress in the long term.
Derby v Hull to end in a draw – 21/10
Hull to qualify – 8/11
BEN’S FINAL – Hull v Sheffield Wednesday.
The M1 southbound will be a much travelled route on the day of the final with two Yorkshire sides heading to Wembley known they will be 90 minutes away from a huge Premier League Pay Day.
Two in form sides will meet and I think there will be one key factor to remember with this game.
Hull have success in the Play Offs and Sheffield Wednesday’s big final form isn’t so great.
That comparison of confidence in the big event vs nervous tension could be key, especially early on.
Hull have a plethora of players who have played in the big league, especially down the spine of their side.
Curtis Davis, Tom Huddlestone and the in-form striker Abel Hernandez could settle in the game earlier and early goals often result in promotion at the end of the game.
Hull are set for success here, Hernandez firing his side up with Steve Bruce’s side successful at Wembley.
A 2-0 Hull win.
Hull To Be Promoted – 5/2
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