Championship Play-Offs; Half-Way to Wembley
Updated: May 17
The EFL Play-Offs are often cruel. Four teams from each division put it all on the pitch to earn a fantastic day out to Wembley and perhaps secure promotion to the division above.
Notts County have already joined Wrexham in League Two by beating Chesterfield on penalties, but which two Championship teams are on their way to Wembley?
It felt like the Championship play-offs got underway on the final day of the regular season, with Blackburn ending Millwall's hopes whilst Coventry and Sunderland earned fantastic results to sneak in.
Despite only clinching a top-six spot on the last day, Coventry and Sunderland both earned excellent results in the first legs of their play-offs, with Coventry fending off Middlesbrough for a 0 - 0 draw at the Ricoh Arena and Sunderland turning it around to stun Luton Town on Tyneside.
The Black Cats were fantastic at the Stadium of Light, recovering well from an early Elijah Adebayo goal for Luton. The equaliser came through a spectacular free-kick from Amad Diallo before Trai Hume thumped home a second-half header to send the home fans into raptures.
Luton's first defeat since 18th February against Burnley has set up the classic playoff scenario, with the lower-ranked side edging the home leg but having to go away and defend their lead. But this one isn't quite that simple.
Sunderland actually have more away wins than Luton have home wins the season. The Hatters haven't been poor at home, they've only lost four, but have drawn nine, and as the scoreline clearly shows from the first game, Luton have to win.
The advantage for the visitors is that they haven't got a lot to lose. Of course, they'd love to return to the Premier League, but their goal at the start of this season was simply to survive. A trip to Wembley would cap off a fantastic season for Tony Mowbray's team, and it really is in sight after a stunning performance on Saturday.
The other semi-final is even tighter one game in, with Coventry holding on to draw 0 - 0 with Middlesbrough at the Ricoh Arena. This is a good result on the face of it, but the task awaiting the Sky Blues up North is a daunting one.
Michael Carrick has revolutionised Middlesbrough, creating easily the best Boro team since they were last in the Premier League and a lot of their success this term has come at the Riverside.
Middlesbrough have managed two points per game at home this season, conceding just 19 times in 23 home matches in the league. Whilst Coventry did very well to fend off their visitors on Sunday, they were easily second best, and face an even more challenging game on Wednesday when they bid for a spot at Wembley.
That being said, they will be boosted by their hard-earned draw on the final day of the regular season against Carrick's side. Coventry got the point they needed to secure play-off football, albeit against a Middlesbrough side who already knew they'd finish fourth.
Whichever two teams make their way to Wembley, the playoffs promise to be enthraling. Two more enormous games on Tuesday and Wednesday will decide the finalists and one of them will be promoted to the Premier League on Saturday 27th May.