The EFL Championship playoffs get underway on Saturday, as Sunderland plays host to Luton.
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Sixth Versus Third
Sunderland may have reached the playoffs, but manager Tony Mowbray needed a huge favour from his former employers Blackburn.
Leaving It Late
Although Sunderland carried out their part of the Championship’s final day equation, it looked as if Millwall were going to stand in their way when it came to trying to crack the playoff code. Thankfully for the Black Cats, their luck was most definitely in.
What was a 3-1 home lead at The Den for Millwall would eventually become a 4-3 away win for Blackburn. Playoff drama at its absolute maximum, a scenario that not even a Sunderland-based scriptwriter could have penned.
While it was a scenario that meant Tony Mowbray’s men earned themselves a golden ticket and the opportunity to extend their season by at least another week. An opportunity that sees them paired with Luton this weekend.
Much has been made of Luton’s away end in recent weeks, but it is they who are on the road for Saturday’s first leg and with Rob Edwards’ men having known their own fate for quite a while, they will be primed and ready for the challenge that this semi-final tie offers.
When a team is pipped to automatic promotion by a point or two, a sense of deflation usually follows. Just falling short of the finish line in the regular campaign and not even making Wembley’s showpiece event as a consequence.
Thankfully for Luton, there is not that sense of deflation within the Kenilworth Road camp. Instead, the feeling is inflation and with an unbeaten run of 14 league matches under their belt, the Hatters enter this playoff process as the form candidate.
Of course, Sunderland’s form cannot be overlooked either, the Wearside outfit have gone unbeaten in their last nine and it is this streak that took them out of the midtable doldrums and into the top six.
While their last home outing in the league may have been the most pivotal of all. With the clock ticking down towards its final additional seconds, Sunderland found themselves 2-1 down to Watford and edging closer out of the playoff race.
That was until Patrick Roberts’ sensational strike not only sent the Stadium of Light into raptures but also secured a very important point. The importance which would not truly be felt until the final seconds of Bank Holiday Monday.
But now it is time for the first of my two tips and with Sunderland having home advantage, I think they may just struggle to make best use of it. Therefore, I am backing the draw and over 1 total goal in a bet builder at odds of 7/2.
While in addition to this, I mentioned Patrick Roberts as the recent hero at the Stadium of Light and I believe he will etch his name on the scoresheet once again. This time he breaks the deadlock and if this does come to fruition, odds of 8/1 will be converted into winnings.
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