Forget the EPL, The League One Promotion Race is Where it’s at
None of the top three will want to leave their chances of promotion to the play-off gods
There is far more to English football than what goes on in the EPL, or even in the Championship. League One tends to fly under the radar of many football fans, and even that of the bookmakers, which is one reason why punters choose to use some of the proliferation of free bets listed by OddsChecker on precisely that league. This season, more than any other, has seen an incredible race for the automatic places, as well as the right to be in the play-offs.
There are some big football clubs in League One. Clubs with history, Premier League stadiums, Premier League fanbases, not to mention Premier League ambitions.
League One Competitors
Ipswich Town, Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and Portsmouth have all been in and around the very top echelons of the sport in the not-too-distant past. You can add the likes of Barnsley, Bolton and Charlton to that list too. And let’s not forget to mention Plymouth, who for long stretches of this season have been the outstanding side, as well as Peterborough, who on their day can hand any club in their league a sound beating (and also be on the receiving end of one the next game!).
This season has largely been a tussle between Ipswich, Plymouth and Sheffield Wednesday for top spot and the two automatic places. At least one will miss out, and that will be a huge blow for everyone at that club. Whoever does receive that blow will have to quickly lick their wounds so they can gain promotion through the play-offs. So many times when the race for the top two is a three-horse race, the side that misses out compounds the heartbreak by underperforming in the play-off games.
At various times this season, one or more of those three teams has been as good as up, or certainly that was how it seemed. Then, a sudden inexplicable loss of form has seen them not just dragged back by the chasing pack, but overtaken by them.
Recent Run of Form
Plymouth are almost invincible at Home Park, where they have won 17 of their 20 games. They have also been the kings of late goals. At the back of their minds, however, will be their dramatic fall off in form last season, when they went from automatic hopefuls to missing out on the top six on the last day of the season.
Sheffield Wednesday fans were probably already planning their return to Championship football when their side went on a 23-match unbeaten run. South Yorkshire rivals Barnsley put an end to the streak and the Owls followed that up by losing to bottom-of-the-table Forest Green. The next five games gave Sheffield Wednesday three draws, one loss and just one win, meaning they not only lost the top spot, but dropped out of the automatic places completely. This is exactly the wrong time of the campaign to lose form, confidence, belief and momentum. They are also dealing with injuries to key players.
On the other side of the coin is Ipswich Town. The Tractor Boys were looking like firm automatic contenders up until a remarkable game at the Valley late last October. Not only did they lose a two-nil lead in normal time, they managed to lose another two-nil lead after 94 minutes. That 4 – 4 draw seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Suffolk outfit, and it took them until February to really find their mojo again, but how they have found it.
In a run of nine games, they kept nine clean sheets, winning eight games, scoring four goals in three of them, and three goals in another. Scalps in that sequence of games included Derby and Bolton, both beaten on their own patch. Last week, Ipswich finally laid the ghost of that Charlton game to rest, putting the Londoners to the sword with six unanswered goals. If Sheffield Wednesday have lost their momentum at the wrong time, then Ipswich have found theirs at precisely the right time. There is still a way to go, and there are bound to be more twists and turns in this race yet.