Leeds are at last marching on together
After several disappointing seasons and several false dawns can Simon Grayson finally lead Leeds United a step closer to the promised land?
The Whites have been excellent since the former Blackpool manager took over from Gary McAllister in December, winning 16 of his 25 games in charge including an incredible sequence of 11 consecutive victories at Elland Road.
A run which has seen Leeds move from ninth in the table and a huge 11 points off Millwall to a fourth place finish, two points above the Lions. Millwall will certainly have their work cut out if they don't manage to take an advantage from their home match on Saturday.
Of course United's leading striker (Jermaine Beckford) will get most of the headlines, and why not he's blasted in 34 goals in just 35 league and cup starts. But he wouldn't be scoring all these goals if he didn't have decent service, which has come in the shape of Robert Snodgrass.
The Scot was a summer signing from Livingston and arrived supposedly as a striker but his great pace and trickery meant he was more suited to a role out on the wing where he has really excelled, and after being in and out of the team at the start of the season he's a virtual ever present under Simon Grayson and has set-up more goals than anybody in the division - the 6ft winger has supplied 16 assists, and scored nine goals, to help propel the Whites up the table. Not bad from just 25 starts.
With the current form that the Yorkshire outfit are showing it's no great surprise to see them as the favourites to win this year's League 1 play-offs at odds of 7/4.
Because of the fact that Milton Keynes Dons finished third they're the next most likely candidate to challenge Leeds, available at 11/5 to emerge victorious from Wembley in the final, but Roberto Di Matteo's side really shouldn't have got themselves in this position to begin with.
The Dons were in the top two for over 10 weeks of the season and at one stage had a couple of games in hand over their nearest opponents, it was looking like a foregone conclusion that they would earn a second successive promotion.
A poor run of results started at the turn of the year with a draw at home to Colchester, and only four wins were achieved from then up to the start of April, including defeats against potential final opponents Leeds and Millwall.
In fairness to MK they finished the season in fine style, winning six of their last seven games to secure third spot which means they'll play their second leg at home.
Millwall have had a fairly consistent season; they've been in the play-off positions for near enough the whole campaign - never really looking like challenging for automatic promotion and never really in any danger of losing their top six place. That said the Lions' first half of the season makes for better reading than the second half, with nine league defeats suffered since the start of the year.
One of Millwall's biggest problems has been scoring goals, Kenny Jackett's team have only scored two more than relegated Northamton - 63. You can't help thinking that if Jason Price had arrived on loan earlier in the season then he could have scored a lot more than the three he's managed from his six starts. Part of the reason that Price didn't arrive sooner was because Leeds (understandably) didn't want their player Tresor Kandol to return to the New Den to continue his loan spell where he found the net eight times from 16 starts.
The Lions really need to sharpen up in front of goal if they're to have any chance of getting past Leeds and booking a place at Wembley, although only four teams have conceded fewer goals than Millwall so they are capable of frustrating sides. The Londoners can be backed at 10/3 to gain promotion to the Championship.
Scunthorpe are the outsiders in the betting at 7/2 but by no means will they be a pushover, the Iron have already beaten MK Dons this season, got a league double over Millwall and have scored three against Leeds, but unfortunately for them they did lose both games against the Whites.
The Iron will be dangerous if presented with chances, in Gary Hooper and Paul Hayes Scunny possess one of the most prolific strike forces in League 1, the front two have smashed in 50 goals between them in all competitions and coming from midfield Grant McCann has weighed in with 10 strikes as well.
Of course Nigel Adkins will want to take something into the away leg at Stadium:mk but it won't be game over if they don't manage a lead on Friday night, the Dons have already lost seven times at home this season whilst the Lincolnshire side have scored more goals away from Glanford Park than all but two of the other 23 teams in the division.
Here at William Hill we will, as ever, be offering you the best choice of in-running betting. We'll have a huge range of markets for you to bet on throughout all five of the League 1 play-off matches, which promise to be dramatic and tense affairs, culminating in the final at Wembley on 24 May.