Championship play-off permutations: Four-way battle looms on final day


illwall will attempt to snatch an unlikely Championship play-off berth as another hectic second-tier campaign draws to an exciting conclusion this afternoon.

Gary Rowett’s Lions have put together a five-match unbeaten run including a 3-1 win over already relegated Peterborough on the penultimate weekend of the campaign to keep alive their slim hopes of finishing in the top six and pursuing Wembley and a first top-flight stint since 1990, not to mention around £100million.

Millwall are up against it on the final day, make no mistake, and need a lot of things to fall their way if they are to sneak in at the last hurdle.

They are away at Bournemouth on Saturday, with Scott Parker’s hosts having already clinched their instant Premier League return with a 1-0 win over fellow promotion-chasers Nottingham Forest in midweek.

Bournemouth are already guaranteed to finish second with prolific Fulham having wrapped up the title with a 7-0 demolition of Luton last time out, though will be keen to finish a memorable campaign on a high.

Currently eighth and three points outside the top six, Millwall must win at the Vitality Stadium this afternoon while hoping that sixth-placed Luton are beaten at home by strugglers Reading and seventh-placed Middlesbrough drop points against Preston at Deepdale.

Luton’s shellacking by Fulham on Monday means that Millwall now boast a better goal difference than the Hatters, though fifth-placed Sheffield United’s is comfortably better as things stand and they would need a five-goal swing to catch the Blades today.

If Millwall win, Luton are beaten and Middlesbrough do not get all three points in Lancashire, then the Lions will make it.

Sheffield United and Luton would rubber-stamp their play-off spots with wins today of course, while a draw would also be enough for the Blades if Luton or Middlesbrough do not emerge victorious.

Middlesbrough need to beat Preston and hope that Sheffield United are beaten or Luton drop points. Boro have a better goal difference than Luton, but it is two behind United’s at the start of the day.

Elsewhere in the top six, Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield are level on points, with Forest currently third by virtue of a far stronger goal difference.

Forest are at Hull today, while Huddersfield host Bristol City. They are guaranteed to be third and fourth in whichever order, meaning they will not go head to head in the play-off semi-finals.

The position of the top two cannot change on the final day, meanwhile, with Fulham five points clear of Bournemouth at the summit.

Derby, Peterborough and Barnsley are already relegated, with the latter destined to finish bottom with a four-point gap to Posh in 23rd.

Derby (22nd) and Peterborough are level on points, so could swap places as they take on Cardiff and Blackpool respectively today, but it matters little in the grand scheme of things.

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