This weekend signals the end of the 2012/13 npower Championship season, but there’s still plenty of potential for final day drama! There are six clubs still in danger of the drop, while four are vying for the two remaining Play-Off places. Higher up, there’s all to play for - both Watford and Hull City are in touching distance of automatic promotion. To help you use your last precious transfer, we’ve selected three key clashes ahead of another weekend of exciting action.
Crystal Palace v Peterborough United
Despite a fantastic start that has seen Crystal Palace maintain a Play-Off position since October, the Eagles have not won in their last nine matches. This drop in form seems to have also coincided with a goal drought for the league’s top-scorer Glenn Murray, who has failed to score in eight. However, Murray was one of three Palace players to make the Team of the Year alongside Yannick Bolasie and the departing Wilfried Zaha. Neither player has shone in recent weeks, leaving it to midfielder Stephen Dobbie to pick up the pieces with two goals in three games.
Peterborough United’s season has been the complete opposite. The Posh lost 16 of the first 21 fixtures, but have only lost once in their last 12. Their recent revival has, however, not had the desired effect and they remain outside of the relegation zone on goal difference alone. With so much at stake in their final match, Posh fans will be expecting much from an exciting side capable of scoring and with a history of beating the league’s top sides including a double over champions Cardiff City. Strikers Dwight Gayle and Lee Tomlin have scored over 20 goals between them this season, but a recent flurry of penalties have seen midfielder Grant McCann creep up the scoring charts.
Huddersfield Town v Barnsley
Another relegation scrap sees a Yorkshire derby that has more at stake than local pride. Huddersfield Town are three points clear of relegation, meaning that should they avoid a loss, their survival will be sealed. Unfortunately for them, Barnsley are the team they need to keep at bay. The Terriers should be confident with three wins in their last four matches, scoring three goals in each. Well-timed performances from strikers Jermaine Beckford and James Vaughan, who scored a hat-trick at the weekend, as well as midfielders Oliver Norwood and Sean Scannell, should carry the hosts over the finish line.
There is one simple objective for Barnsley this week - win! The Tykes only chance of survival is to beat their opponents, which will take them out of relegation and drag Huddersfield in. Much will depend on the performance of their striking quartet; Chris O’Grady, Jason Scotland, Chris Dagnall and Marlon Harewood. O’Grady has been particularly potent of late since his move from fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday and he could decide the outcome of this tense fixture. If you’re looking for something different, youngster Reuben Noble-Lazarus has put in some mature performances and he could provide the spark Barnsley need.
Nottingham Forest v Leicester City
With both teams gunning for a Play-Off position, this is a must-win match, although a position in the top six is reliant on other results going their way. Nottingham Forest are in the better position of the two, remaining outside of the Play-Offs on goal difference. Saturday’s win at Millwall, however, was their first in six and they will hope players like Radoslaw Majewski, Henri Lansbury, Andy Reid and Billy Sharp can recapture the form, and goals, that inspired their rise from mid-table obscurity to promotion contenders.
The visitors are dangerously close to turning what started as a promising season into another disappointing campaign. Having spent much of the season in the promotion or Play-Off places, a run of two wins in 16 has seen them fall to eighth, two points away from a potential Wembley date. The Foxes’ defence has become more generous of late, while the strikeforce has failed to hit the heights they reached earlier in the season. It is clear that they miss the goals of Chris Wood and David Nugent, but they will need to find their form again for Leicester City to challenge.
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