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Jon Riley 27th Apr 2012 - 12:38

The Championship Final Day Deciders

With Reading already confirmed as the champions and the three relegated teams consigned to their fate last weekend, the final day of the Championship season should yield less dramatic scenes than in previous years but there are still matches of huge importance to be played out.

Southampton entertain already relegated Coventry City at St Mary's knowing that they only have to equal West Ham's result in order to gain back-to-back promtions and a return to the Premier League. Saints are a short priced 1/3 to win in 90 minutes while League 1 bound City can be backed at 10s.

Saints Manager Nigel Adkins knows that his team should have already wrapped up automatic promotion but two defeats in three matches have meant that the champagne is still chilling ahead of any expected celebrations. Adkins will be looking to leading scorer Rickie Lambert (3/1 first scorer) and the sharp shooting Billy Sharp, also 3/1, to fire in the goals to lead his team back to the promised land.

West Ham are currently two points (and three goals Goal Difference wise) behind Southampton going into the final weekend. The Hammers have been the architects of their own downfall in the last few months, drawing far too many games and dropping valuable points along the way. In fact, Sam Allardyce's men have drawn five of their last ten matches, only actually losing once in that period.

They must beat Hull City at Upton Park on Saturday to have any chance of going up. The hosts are priced at 4/9 and the visitors 7/1. Hull are no mugs on their travels, they have an identical away record to fourth placed Blackpool and have only just missed out on the play-offs. If there are any nerves at all floating round the stadium, I can actually see the Tigers nicking a point (draw 3/1).

The only other meaningful position left to decide is which team will take the final play-off position. The two teams fighting it out are Cardiff and Middlesbrough.

Cardiff face a tricky tie away at Crystal Palace (Match betting 11/10) and are priced at 7/2 to gain promotion this season. The Welsh club are in the driving seat when it comes to sealing that final play-off spot, sitting two points clear of Boro' with just the one game remaining. They also have a far superior goal difference, meaning that a draw in South London would almost certainly be enough (draw 21/10).

Middlesbrough travel to Watford more in hope than expectation as their Play-off dreams all hinge on a slip-up by Cardiff. The Teesiders can be backed at 6/4 to win at Vicarage Road and are 20/1 to go on and earn promotion.

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