Play-Off weekend at Wembley Stadium to bring down the curtain on enthralling English league season
UCFB students have had their say and predict Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley and AFC Wimbledon will prevail in their Play-Off finals at Wembley Stadium.
Following a gruelling 48 game season, six teams from the Championship, League One and League Two will battle it out one last time for the chance of promotion at the iconic stadium, home to the UCFB Wembley campus.
Up first is the Championship final, billed as the richest game in world football with the winner estimated to collect £200million from added revenues and the ever increasing pot of TV money next season. Sheffield Wednesday and Hull will go head to head for a place in the Premier League and those riches.
Hull are looking to bounce straight back following their relegation from the top flight last season. Steve Bruce’s side finished fourth in the Championship before overcoming Derby 3-2 on aggregate in their semi-final.
After an impressive season in which they finished sixth, Sheffield Wednesday are looking to re-join the Premier League for the first time in 16 years. Wednesday were one of the founders of the Premier League, but have found themselves languishing in the second and at times third tier of English football since. An impressive 3-1 aggregate win over Brighton, who only missed out on automatic promotion on goal difference, was enough to see them through to the Wembley show piece.
A poll run by UCFB found students think Sheffield Wednesday will be back with the big boys come full time on Saturday and overcome the Tigers. Both sides just did enough to get through their semi-finals and the bookies can’t pull them apart. It promises to be a superb game of football.
In League One, it’s Barnsley and Millwall who will be vying for a place in next year’s Championship and the added carrot of away games at Villa Park and St James’ Park.
Barnsley impressively overcame Walsall 6-1 on aggregate after sneaking into the play-off picture with a superior goal difference of three over Scunthorpe. Londoners Millwall will be looking to bounce back to the Championship at the first attempt following their relegation last year. They qualified for the final with a 4-2 aggregate win over Bradford City.
A similar poll found UCFB students think Barnsley, Yorkshire’s second side playing at Wembley over the play-off weekend, will prevail and prevent Millwall from that immediate return.
Organisers will hope the League Two final between Plymouth Argyle and AFC Wimbledon will be more pleasing on the eye than last years between Southend United and Wycombe Wanderers. The Essex seasiders won the tie on penalties after equalising with the last kick of the game in extra time in an otherwise forgetful game.
Plymouth pulled off their own last-minute heroics in their semi-final against Portsmouth. A 2-2 draw at Fratton Park meant it was all to play for on the Devon coast. In the return leg, a header deep into stoppage time from Peter Hartley found the back of the net to send the home side through and the locals delirious.
Their opponents AFC Wimbledon are aiming to continue their fairy tale rise and ply their trade in the third tier of English football for the first time. Their dramatic 3-2 aggregate win over Accrington Stanley means they are just 90 minutes away from playing in the same league as MK Dons, who controversially relocated to Milton Keynes from Wimbledon leading to the formation of AFC in 2002.
The last poll run by UCFB for the League Two final found students getting behind Wimbledon and predicting their success. The bookies have the Pilgrims as favourites though, but then again they had Leicester City at 5000/1 to win the Premier League, didn’t they?