League One and Two boast tasty set up for final day frenzy
Holly Thackeray | May 6, 2016
There’s more to life, and football, than the Premier League. So, for a true taste of the English game at the business end of the season, Coral cast their eyes across some enthralling action from the lower divisions.
While our experts have already run the rule over the last day of Championship action, it’s now time to focus on the final matches of Leagues One and Two, where the margins are incredibly fine and there could still be room for manoeuvre from some familiar faces as well as a fair few fantastic flutters up for grabs.
So, grab your pie and pint and prepare to watch the lower league drama unfold…
League One still to cement last six
Wigan waiting in the wings for winners crown
The last glimpse many viewers may have seen of Wigan Athletic, was when the Greater Manchester club slipped out of the Championship with a whimper, just one season after scaling the heights of success with a famous FA Cup final win over Manchester City and also simultaneously suffered the blow of Premier League relegation.
It’s been a long and winding road for Wigan but the Latics are already promoted back into the second-tier and all-but assured the League One crown as they head into the last match of the season, with what would usually be a nerve-wrecking three point advantage on second spot Burton Albion if not for the humongous goal difference of 20 between them.
This is largely due to the exploits of superb summer signing and division top scorer William Grigg and his 24 goals making him the star of Gary Caldwell’s cast, while notable names such as Jussi Jaaskelainen are still among the ranks.
Caldwell’s contingent play their last League One game against Barnsley (6/1 with Coral to achieve promotion), but their is no guarantee of joy against the play-off place seeking Tykes, so Wigan will have to make sure not to take their foot off the brakes for this farewell fixture.
Tykes trying to avoid last-gasp slip-up
While, speaking of Barnsley, Oakwell is expecting – but those tricky Tykes cannot count on a play-off place just yet, with Millwall and Bradford City already sure they will take to the stage to contest Championship status. It could all go down to the wire as the South Yorkshire side pack their bags for a brave battle with Northwest summit straddlers Wigan.
Caretaker coach Paul Heckingbottom needs one final push for a top six place, as though the Yorkshiremen occupy that last play-off position currently, they are still level on points with Scunthorpe (13/8 to pip the Tykes to that finish) who face mid-table Sheffield United.
It’s hard to see who has the advantage here, as neither opposition has much left to play for, but one thing for sure is that the Tykes must equal whatever result the Irons manage at Bramall Lane in their lunchtime liaison. So, crucially it could all come down to goal difference, with Scunthorpe needing to catch up by three strikes at least if the pair stay evenly matched.
One to watch out for here may be Manchester United’s on-loan marksman Ashley Fletcher, who fired in a brace last time against Colchester United to keep Barnsley in the running. The Tykes have a decent track record of rearing Red Devils, with tenacious midfielder Ben Pearson recently a hit in his time at the club, so perhaps if Barnsley clinch promotion they will propel the young poacher up a level with them.
Burton and Walsall jostle for automatic promotion
It’s not over until the final whistle for Walsall, as the West Midlands men travel to 12th placed Port Vale with ideas of leapfrogging Burton for the last automatic promotion spot.
Interim gaffer John Whitney still hopes his side can prove heroes, with the Saddlers (2/1 for promotion) needing to turn around three points and the same amount of goal difference to clinch safe passage and second.
It’s still coach Nigel Clough’s to lose though, as the Brewers must only match Walsall’s result to cement their Championship status for next season, though a draw would also do the job but a loss could turn the tide dangerously due to the Saddler’s superior scoring.
Doncaster Rovers going down?
Darren Ferguson will have his hands full at the Keepmoat as, if Donny do not defeat high-flying Burton ( which is a 16/5 shot), they can kiss League One status goodbye, just two terms after being dumped out of the Championship.
Doncaster’s fall from grace can still be quelled; but only if the Viking’s storm to a shock victory against bullish Burton while relegation rivals Blackpool and Fleetwood Town drop points, though there would also need to be an unlikely 10-goal swing to trade places with the latter.
At this point, it is the Tangerines (1/50 to fall through the trap door) and Donny that look by far the most ripe for the drop alongside Colchester and Crewe Alexandra.
While, Fleetwood will not need to sweat about their competitors’ status if they take care of already relegated and rock-bottom Crewe, with a win all that’s needed to stay safe. A draw due to a deadlier goal difference could do, but Fleetwood would then potentially be playing with fire.
League Two elevation to be decided
Rovers eyeing Accrington and Oxford
While, in English football’s fourth-tier, the League Two title has already been sewn-up by Northampton Town, as League One status awaits after the Sixfields side romped to a 12 point lead over closest competitors Accrington Stanley.
As always, three will be propelled automatically to League One, with the Crown Ground club and neutral darlings Oxford United currently ahead of the chasing pack. If victories are gained by both against Stevenage and Wycombe Wanderers respectively then the top trio will have all sealed the deal.
It’s Bristol Rovers that are the only side in with a shout of breaking up the automatic promotion party, if the Pirates pinch all treasured three points from already relegated Dagenham and Redbridge while awaiting a slip up from the two teams above. A draw is not enough to overhaul Oxford realistically, unless The Boys from Up the Hill somehow ship 10 strikes.
Promotion play-offs aside from fourth are set up to feature former Harry Redknapp hideout Portsmouth, Plymouth Argyle and 90s nostalgia club Wimbledon, who complete the Wembley roster and are now awaiting their final competitor in fourth to be finalised.
While at the other end of the table, York City and the Daggers are the unfortunate duo heading to the depths of the National League.