Race To The Bottom

It looks very much like we already know which teams are going to finish in the Top Five.

Cardiff lost in the last minute at Fulham, which meant that Sheffield Wednesday – who surprisingly lost 4-1 at Bristol City – maintained their five point cushion over the Bluebirds for the last play off place.  Of course, the situation could all change over the next four games.

Bolton finally departed the Championship after four seasons and it’s highly likely that Charlton and MK Dons will join them. Having written that, after last week’s results Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest have dropped into the bottom six. The Terriers were last in this position on Boxing Day but Forest were in the top half of the table as recently as the end of February.

As you might imagine having read the opening couple of paragraphs, this week’s focus is on the bottom of the table:

Charlton v Derby

I never seem to be able to mention this game without harking back to the 1946 FA Cup Final and thanks to British Pathe and our new look, here’s some vintage footage of the game, featuring a cameo appearance by the Queen, who had celebrated her 20th birthday the week before.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that the Addicks had probably left it too late to save themselves and although they’ve only lost two of their last six games at the Valley, this game begins a brutal run in during which time Charlton have to host Derby, Brighton and Burnley. They’ve already beaten Middlesbrough, Hull and Sheffield Wednesday at home so Derby need to be wary, especially as they haven’t won on the road since the end of February. That being said, Derby have four of their last ten league games at Charlton – losing only three – and arguably don’t have as much to play for as the hosts.

Rotherham v Nottingham Forest

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve got a pet theory about some teams avoiding relegation because there are usually three sides worse than them. I mentioned it before the start of the season in the preview for Bolton and the way things are going at Forest it seems likely I’ll be dusting the theory off in August so I can apply it to the Tricky Trees.

Quite frankly, Forest are in free fall. They’ve lost nine of their last eleven games, failed to score in six of those defeats, have been as bad as Bolton over the last half dozen matches and only MK Dons have scored fewer goals this season. Forest are lucky that this season there are three teams worse than them but that may not be the case in 2016/17 – if they survive, as it’s still possible that Forest could go down.

Rotherham are currently unbeaten in eight and haven’t lost at home since the end of January. Here’s where history intervenes quite dramatically: although the Millers have only lost once at home to Forest in their last ten meetings in South Yorkshire, the last time Rotherham beat Nottingham Forest at home in the league was in September 1956. Additionally, the last six league games between the clubs at Rotherham have ended in draws, which is not particularly good news for Nottingham Forest.

Televised games this weekend: Hull v Wolves (tonight, Sky Sports 1, kick off 7:45pm), Bolton v Middlesbrough (tomorrow, Sky Sports 1, kick off 12:30pm). Some interest at the top in these matches but Hull need a win to maintain the pressure on the other teams competing for a play off spot and Bolton’s game looks like one of those Sky Sports choices that might have looked good on paper before the season began.

I’ll be back on Tuesday afternoon with a preview of the final midweek programme of the regular season. You’ve got no idea how pleased I am to be writing those words 🙂

Author: Mike Roberts

A football fan since the 1970s, I take my inspiration from the standard of writing that made Shoot! magazine streets ahead of anything else back in the day. I'm also a complete and utter stathead, which I blame on being exposed to American sports at the end of my teens.