EFL Play-Off Tips
EFL Promotion Play-Off Finals
Wembley will host three EFL play-off finals between Saturday and Monday starting with the £170m game between Coventry City and Luton Town. We look at this as well as the League One and League two finals, but before we do, head to the best betting site in Nigeria, BetKing, and check out our variety of betting options from live matches today to our virtual bets section. You can also read about our new feature; the Pick 11 Jackpot Bet here.
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Coventry City vs. Luton Town (EFL Championship Promotion Play-Offs Final)
On Saturday, Coventry City and Luton Town will battle in the richest game in world football. The winner of this game would be guaranteed at least £170m over the next two seasons – through TV deals and parachute payments – even if they finish bottom of the Premier League next season and its importance cannot be overstated. It’s remarkable to reflect that just five seasons ago, this fixture took place in the fourth tier of English Football (League Two). However, now both teams find themselves vying for a spot in the highly coveted Premier League, exemplifying the tremendous transformations they have undergone over the years..
Luton Town enters this match as slight favorites due to their third-place finish in the Championship, while Coventry City finished fifth. Luton is a team that understands its strengths well and plays accordingly. Their defense has been exceptional, conceding only 39 league goals, which is the second lowest in the league. However, they have scored the fewest goals among the top six teams, with a total of 57 goals. In their semi-final first leg against Sunderland, they showed resilience by overcoming a 2-1 deficit to win 2-0 at home, with goals from Gabriel Osho and Tom Lockyer in the first half.
Luton Town has an impressive record against Coventry City, remaining undefeated in their last nine encounters since suffering a 3-0 home defeat in 2017. They have won four matches and drawn five during this period. The two meetings between the teams this season ended in draws, with the first match finishing 2-2, featuring a brace from Carlton Morris. Morris, who has scored 20 goals this season, is a key player for Luton Town and will be relied upon in this important match. The 27-year-old is looking to put his Wembley demons to rest having been part of the Shrewsbury Town side beaten 2-1 by Rotherham United in the League One play-off final in 2018 – a game in which he also ruptured his ACL.
Coventry City is currently enjoying a strong streak, with only one defeat in their last 15 matches. Their impressive 1-0 aggregate victory over Middlesbrough may have appeared uneventful on paper, but it deserves recognition for their ability to keep a clean sheet against the second-best attacking team in the league over the course of 180 minutes.
A notable figure behind Coventry’s success is their manager, Mark Robins, whose name should ring a bell for older Manchester United fans. Robins famously scored the solitary goal in a 1-0 FA Cup win against Nottingham Forest in 1990. This goal is credited with saving Sir Alex Ferguson’s job at Old Trafford, as the Scottish manager was on the verge of being sacked at the time. That season, Manchester United went on to win the FA Cup, marking the first major trophy of Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure in England. Robins has now transitioned from being a player who saved jobs to becoming a manager who rescues clubs. Since his return to Coventry City as a manager in 2017, Robins, has achieved two promotions and is now on the verge of securing a third promotion in just six years. With a rich history of 34 consecutive top-flight campaigns before their relegation in the 2000/01 season, Coventry City will heavily rely on the tactical acumen and inspiration provided by their coach to guide them to success.
Coventry City Form: W-W-D-D-W
Luton Town Form: W-D-D-L-W
Coventry City has one of the most productive players in the league in Viktor Gyökeres. The Swedish striker finished as the second top scorer with 21 goals while also finishing joint-second in assists (11) alongside teammate Gustavo Hamer. He provided the assist to knock Middlesbrough out of the semi-final and would be instrumental if Coventry is to emerge victorious on Saturday.
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Barnsley vs. Sheffield Wednesday (EFL League One Promotion Play-Offs Final)
Sheffield Wednesday produced a miracle for the ages in the semi-final tie against Peterborough. Having finished 3rd in League One and accrued 96 points, Darren Moore’s side were clear favorites against a 6th place Peterborough team that only clinched a play-off spot on the final day of the season. To everyone’s surprise, Peterborough delivered a stunning blow to Wednesday with a resounding 4-0 victory, placing themselves just one game away from a coveted appearance at Wembley. The odds seemed insurmountable for Sheffield Wednesday, as no team had ever overturned a deficit of more than two goals in the history of the EFL playoffs.
However, in a remarkable turn of events in the second leg, Wednesday managed to equalize the aggregate score by scoring all four goals, with the decisive fourth goal arriving in the 98th minute. The moment felt incredibly poetic, considering the infamous “Fergie Time” associated with Sir Alex Ferguson, which originated in the 1992/93 season when Manchester United clinched their first league title in 26 years with a 97th minute winner against Sheffield Wednesday. Now, in a twist of fate, Peterborough, managed by Sir Alex Ferguson’s son, Darren, suffered a fatal blow to their promotion aspirations with a 98th minute goal conceded. The match proceeded to extra time and ultimately penalties, where Sheffield Wednesday displayed flawless execution to complete their remarkable comeback.
It’s hard to see anything but a Sheffield Wednesday win on Monday. They’re the better side, having finished 10 points above Barnsley, and they’re on a better run of form with five wins in their last six games – Barnsley have just one win in five games, with just one clean sheet in that stretch. Sheffield Wednesday’s Michael Smith – who opened the scoring in their comeback win – finished the season with 18 goals and 7 assists in 41 games while Scottish midfielder, Barry Bannan fished 2nd in assists with 13. However, it’s worth noting that Sheffield Wednesday suffered two of their six League One losses this season against Barnsley, with a 2-0 defeat at Hillsborough and a 4-2 defeat at Oakwell.
Barnsley Form: L-D-L-D-W
Sheffield Wednesday Form: W-W-W-L-W
Sheffield Wednesday’s 96 points would have been enough to secure automatic promotion in each of the last 10 League Two seasons.
Carlisle United vs. Stockport County (EFL League Two Promotion Play-Offs Final)
Following over a decade out of the football league and wallowing in mediocrity, Stockport County are one win away from securing back-to-back promotions. The Hatters knocked out Gary Neville’s Salford City in the semi-final via penalty shootout having found themselves down a goal on two occasions over the course of the tie.
Carlisle United, meanwhile, could secure a return to League One for the first time since 2014. The Blues lost to 1-0 Bradford City in the first-leg of the semi-final but came back to win 3-1 in extra time. Unfortunately for Carlisle United, one of their standout performers in the 3-1 win, Ben Barclay, will not be able to participate in the upcoming match as he is on loan from Stockport and will have to watch from the stands.
Maintaining confidence in Carlisle United can be challenging, despite their recent semi-final victory. Their entry into the playoffs was barely secured, and they won only two out of their last 11 matches during the season. Despite having a better and deeper roster, they sometimes rest on their laurels and can be made to pay for it. In a two-legged tie, they’re a safer bet as they can make up for their mistakes in a second game, but in a must-win single-leg game, they could be found wanting. Furthermore, when both teams faced each other earlier this season, Stockport County convincingly triumphed with a 2-0 victory at home, followed by a draw (2-2) in the away game against Carlisle.
The availability of their leading goal scorers will be a major concern for both teams as they approach this match. Kristian Dennis of Carlisle United, who is the league’s third top scorer with 20 goals, missed both semi-final games against Bradford due to a shin injury he suffered prior to the game. Meanwhile, Stockport’s top scorer, Kyle Wotton, is facing a more challenging situation as he has missed the last six games due to an injury and may continue to be sidelined for the upcoming match.
Carlisle United Form: W-L-D-L-W
Stockport County Form: W-W-D-L-W
This could be a low-scoring game with 11 of Carlisle United’s last 15 games producing under 2.5 goals. Stockport County, meanwhile, has scored under 1.5 goals in 11 of their previous 14 fixtures during regulation time.
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