Football league play-offs - excitement, drama, happiness and heartbreak, it’s all to play for in League One this year with four sides ready to battle for a spot in the Championship.
Sheffield Wednesday finished just two points shy of automatic promotion with a staggering 96 from the season, and yet they’ve got to do it the hard way. On paper, they deserve it the most, coming so close, however, they remain so far.
Barnsley, Bolton and Peterborough with just as much chance, as points from the season are disregarded and become somewhat meaningless at this stage in the season.
Yes, they indicate the stronger side, and who is likely to fare better against opponents. But, in the ruthless and cut-throat play-offs it could be anyone’s on the day.
Wednesday visit the Posh in the first leg of their tie tonight, battling to earn a trip to Wembley.
Sheffield Wednesday’s points tally of 96 would’ve been enough to secure automatic promotion in every other League One season, as manager Darren Moore led the Owls to a club-record 22-match unbeaten run.
Peterborough snuck into the play-offs on the final day with Derby losing out at Wednesday, finishing 19 points behind the Owls, but have equal opportunity to reach the Championship.
Johnson Clark-Harris who’s netted 26 goals will be a threat for Darren Ferguson’s side while Michael John Smith of Sheffield Wednesday will look to bolster his tally for the season so far.
Ferguson told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire that his Posh side won’t fear their play-off opponents who’ve had such a good season.
He said: “We’re coming into the play-offs with momentum after a fantastic result on Sunday (against Barnsley) and now we’re looking forward to these games.
“We’ll treat them with the respect they’re due but we won't fear them.”
Ferguson’s side beat fellow play-off opponents Barnsley 2-0 to take the final play-off spot ahead of the Rams, and we’ll see how it goes down between them and the Owls, although the odds are certain to favour Moore’s men.
First Leg: Friday 12th May, 20:00, Weston Homes Stadium
Second Leg: Thursday 18th May, 20:00, Hillsborough
Meanwhile, tomorrow Bolton host Barnsley at the University of Bolton Stadium hoping to reach and have success at Wembley for the second time this season.
Having claimed victory earlier in the season against Plymouth Argyle in the Papa Johns Trophy final in April, the Wanderers will be keen to return and play under the arch for a chance of promotion.
Finishing five points behind their opponents Barnsley they may be less favoured, but boss Ian Evatt hopes momentum could help.
“We’re in good form and good spirits,” said the Bolton boss.
“The team are coming to boil at the right time and I see lots of positives. Barnsley are good team and it’s going to be a challenging game.”
Barnsley manager Michael Duff is looking forward to the play-offs hoping to immediately return his side back to the Championship after relegation to League One in 2022.
He said: “I have been looking forward to this for three weeks now."
“It’s all fully focused on for two cup finals.”
Barnsley will look to bounce back and reset after three games without a win to finish the season. Momentum may have picked up at the right time for Bolton as the Tykes have dropped off.
First Leg: Saturday 13th May, 15:00, University of Bolton Stadium
Second Leg: Friday 19th May, 20:00, Oakwell Stadium
We’ll see who is successful and prevails in the play-offs, and no matter who you’re supporting, enjoy them!