The business end of the season is upon us now for supporters around the country. Whilst it has been a difficult season for fans with games behind closed doors, supporters all still feel connected now more than ever.
Some teams fighting against relegation and others pushing to win promotion however today we will be focusing on those at the top of League One and predicting who will finish the season on a high and who may fall just short.
Of course, these are all just predictions – so no hard feelings!
Champions – Peterborough United
There’s only one place to start and that’s with the team I expect to win the division; Peterborough. After 8 years in the division, I have predicted The Posh to go up this season as champions and there’s a few reasons for that.
Firstly, Clarke-Harris. The key to promotion is a goalscorer (Cheers Geoff). JCH has 29 goals at the time of this article and I have no doubt that he will smash the 30 goal barrier sooner rather than later. The former Bristol Rovers man has played a huge part in Peterborough’s successful season so far and certainly filled the boots left by Ivan Toney who departed the club in the summer for Brentford. However unlike their promotion rivals, they have numerous sources of goals with Szmodics and Dembele both in double figures for the season.
Whilst their attack gets a lot of praise, their defensive form sometimes gets ignored. They have conceded just twice in their last four games whilst scoring 12.
When Peterborough win, they do it emphatically. The 7-0 win against Accrington immediately springing to mind. With a game in hand on current league leaders Hull, it’s certainly in Peterborough’s hands.
Northampton / 4-0 win
Gillingham / 2-1 win
Charlton / 1-1 draw
Doncaster / 1-0 win
Lincoln / 2-2 Draw
Doncaster / 2-1 win
Runners up – Sunderland
Next up in 2nd place is Sunderland. After the start they had to the season, no one would have predicted the Black Cats to be anywhere near the top two come this stage of the season but here we are!
Lee Johnson has transformed Sunderland and we can only wonder where they would be had he been in charge from the start…
Charlie Wyke has been a huge factor in Sunderland’s climb up the table with the forward getting 23 goals this season with Aiden McGeady assisting the overwhelming majority of them. The latter having missed the opening 3 months of the season.
Prior to Saturday, Sunderland had been on an unbeaten 14 game run and I fancy them to go unbeaten from now until the end of the season despite having possibly the toughest run in of the top 3. The North East side have two games in hand on Hull with them still to play and one over Peterborough.
Denver Hume has returned to training and Bailey Wright is due to return very soon which would be a huge boost defensively for Sunderland who have managed the last month with just one central defender.
If Sunderland fans are to have any concern, it could be that their second top scorer is Grant Leadbitter on 6 goals. However with Jordan Jones. Aiden McGeady and Lynden Gooch they have plenty of players that could chip in from now until the end of the season.
Blackpool / 1-1 draw
Hull / 1-1 draw
Accrington / 2-0 win
Blackpool / 2-1 win
Plymouth / 1-0 win
Northampton / 2-0 win
3rd – Hull City
As your reading this, you’re probably thinking how you have stumbled across a prediction that sees current league leaders Hull finish 3rd. As I was doing the score predictions, I have to say I was surprised myself.
Hull of course dropped down into League One last season and many tipped them to finish mid table but they’ve had a excellent season under Grant McCann and are currently on a great run. Unbeaten in the last 10. However like all good things, it will come to and end and whilst I have predicted their loss to come at the end of the season, it would still have a huge impact with the Tigers having played the most games out of the top three with Sunderland still to play. A game that if someone does come out as winner, they may be promoted in the end.
Similar to Peterborough they have three forwards on double figures for goals. Magennis, Wilks and KLP. Three players that could play a huge part in the final five games.
Fleetwood / 3-1 win
Sunderland / 1-1 draw
Lincoln / 1-1 draw
Wigan / 3-0 win
Charlton / 2-1 loss
4th – Portsmouth
In 4th place I’ve gone for Portsmouth. Very similar to Sunderland in the sense that things could have been very different if they had changed managers earlier. However, since the arrival of Danny Cowley, Pompey seem to be on the up, and I’d be very shocked if they don’t cement their place in the play offs in the coming weeks.
The main issue for Portsmouth is simply goals. Their top scorer is Marquis with only 14, followed by Ronan Curtis and Marcus Harness who both have seven.
Since appointing Cowley, Portsmouth have lost just once. Burton the team that did end the run. On paper a surprise result, however Burton sit 2nd in the table based on recent form. Prior to that, Portsmouth had won four in a row with the most notable victory coming against Ipswich just a day after Cowley was appointed.
Portsmouth have some favourable fixtures coming up as well with three relegation favourites still to play. Games that you would expect Portsmouth to be victorious in.
MK Dons / 2-1 loss
Swindon / 2-0 win
Bristol Rovers / 4-1 win
Accrington / 1-1 draw
Wimbledon / 1-0 win
Accrington / 2-0 win
Who saw this one coming at the start of the year? Blackpool have been on an incredible run with their last defeat being over two months ago away to Ipswich. Since then, they have won eight and drawn six in a run that currently sees them 4th in the table.
However two fixtures against Sunderland will likely prove to be their toughest games remaining and with teams around them having far more favourable fixtures, I have them in 5th
Jerry Yates has certainly played his part in what has been a good season for Blackpool with the former Swindon striker bagging 18 league goals so far this season. However he has been their only real source of goals this season with KaiKai next in the list with just 5.
If Blackpool are to finish in the play offs, they may well be a good bet to win it if they can continue their run and keep gaining momentum.
Sunderland / 1-1 draw
Rochdale / 3-0 win
Shrewsbury / 1-1 draw
Sunderland / 2-1 loss
Northampton / 1-0 win
Doncaster / 2-1 loss
Bristol Rovers / 1-1 draw
6th- Charlton Athletic
The last team I have picked to make up the top six is Charlton. The London based club had a troubled start to the season but a change of ownership and change of management has given the club the boost that they certainly deserve. Nigel Adkins took over from Lee Bowyer and has done an excellent job so far and I predict for that to continue.
Just days before writing this, Charlton achieved a huge victory with an away win against Sunderland. A side that hadn’t lost in their previous 14. The experience they have within their squad is something that I believe will play a huge part in the final run in. Defensively they have improved and have plenty of forwards capable of causing trouble for opposing defenders.
Chuks Aneke has been in great form this season with 12 goals. A number that doesn’t stand out as anything particularly impressive but his all round play has been excellent. Jake Forster-Caskey is another player who has excelled this season in midfield for Charlton and has possibly been their most important player thus far. Keeping him fit could be key.
The Addicks are unbeaten since the end of February and don’t look like they will be stopping that anytime soon based on recent performances. However they do have some tough fixtures coming up including a huge game against Lincoln who currently sit one place above them. With that being the penultimate game of the season, it could decide who ends the season in the play offs and who just misses out.
Ipswich / 1-1 draw
Plymouth / 3-1 win
Peterborough / 1-1 draw
Crewe / 2-0 win
Accrington / 2-1 win
Lincoln / 1-0 loss
Hull / 2-1 win
The four teams I expect to battle it out for the final promotion place are Portsmouth, Blackpool, Hull and Charlton. As we all know, season form becomes largely irrelevant during these games as it is simply a case of who is better on the day.
That being said, gaining momentum going into the play offs could be essential and for me, Blackpool could quite possibly be favourites. Whilst Hull have had a great season, some of their recent performances have shown signs of fatigue whereas Blackpool seem to be getting better and better with each game.
Of course going as far as predicting who will play who is determined by who finished where. Based on my predictions, Hull will face Charlton and Portsmouth will face Blackpool. For me, the final will be a Hull – Blackpool tie.
Who do I fancy to win the play offs? I’ll go with Blackpool. They’re constantly improving and on a great run. If they can continue the run, I see no reason why they can’t be playing Championship football next year.
Play–Off Winners- Blackpool FC
Of course these are all just predictions and opinions will vary! We are intrigued as to who you think will go up this season so let us know!