The penultimate weekend of the Sky Bet Championship season will continue on Saturday when 10 matches take place in the second tier on a day where Fulham could be crowned champions without even playing.
That will form some of the focus, as will the race for the top six, and we will be able to watch one of the matches on the TV via the red button service while there will be all the usual updates in the normal places of the other games.
Saturday’s fixtures are as follows: (3pm unless stated – UK TV in brackets)
Barnsley v Preston North End (12.30pm – Sky Red Button)
Blackburn Rovers v AFC Bournemouth
Blackpool v Derby County
Bristol City v Hull City
Cardiff City v Birmingham City
Coventry City v Huddersfield Town
Middlesbrough v Stoke City
Millwall v Peterborough United
Nottingham Forest v Swansea City
Reading v West Bromwich Albion
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The televised match is a bit of a nothing affair at Oakwell where already relegated Barnsley host a Preston North End side who have seen their top six hopes dashed since this match was selected for coverage. The biggest match of the day comes from Ewood Park where Bournemouth will be looking to hold off the chasing pack in the race for automatic promotion. They will need to see off a Blackburn Rovers side for whom only a win will keep their top six hopes alive after Sheffield United’s win on Friday night. The other big matches see Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest looking to keep up their automatic promotion charge. The Terriers are away to Coventry City and Forest host Swansea City.
Best of the Rest
As well as Blackburn Rovers, two other sides sit outside the top six and still have chances of getting in. They are Middlesbrough and Millwall but both know they have to win both of their matches and hope that Sheffield United lose to Fulham next week to have a chance of extending their season. Millwall are at home to Peterborough United while Middlesbrough entertain Stoke City. Among the other matches West Bromwich Albion make the trip to Reading while Bristol City host Hull City, Blackpool take on Derby County and Cardiff City take on Birmingham City.
I saw Blackpool with my own eyes last weekend and despite having nothing to play for they looked like a good side who certainly weren’t on the beach even though it is only a short walk from Bloomfield Road to the coastline. They then followed that up in midweek with a win at Barnsley and while that isn’t much of a form guide, it does confirm that they haven’t given up on their season just because they have nothing to play for now.
That makes me think that they can beat Derby County on Saturday. As you would imagine after the disappointment of relegation the adrenalin has gone from this Rams squad and they are just playing out time now. Wayne Rooney is looking at some young players to see if he can go forward with them and they are without one of their best players in Tom Lawrence who is suspended. Having fought so hard for so long this season, Derby have lost three of their last four and everything looks to have caught up with them. Blackpool can weigh in with another punch to them while they are down.
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