David Prutton’s Easter Monday Sky Bet Championship predictions
Middlesbrough vs Huddersfield, Bristol City vs Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest vs West Brom all live on Sky Sports Football throughout Easter Monday; Barnsley vs Peterborough, Cardiff vs Luton, QPR vs Derby all live on Sky Sports Football Red Button from 2.55pm
Things have fallen a little bit flat for Middlesbrough of late, with Good Friday’s goalless draw with Bournemouth meaning they have now taken just a point from their last three games and not scored since the 4-0 win over Peterborough on April 2. They are still so close to breaking back into the top six, but they cannot afford for this slump to go on for too long.
Huddersfield’s slim chances of finishing in the automatic promotion places are still very much alive, even though second-placed Bournemouth have a four-point advantage and two games in hand, so they will pose a stern threat. I think this will be a cracker, but the points will be shared.
There really is not much between the three sides in the relegation places at the moment, but the gap between Barnsley, Peterborough, Derby and 21st-placed Reading is not getting any smaller and time is running out fast.
Poya Asbaghi’s Tykes let a 1-0 lead slip in the draw with Swansea last time out, when holding on would have boosted their survival chances just that little bit more, but Posh kept themselves in the race with a statement win against promotion-chasing Blackburn. If it does happen, it will not be ideal for either side, but I can’t split these two.
Prutton predicts: 1-1
It is all about finishing as high as possible for Steve Morison and Cardiff now. They have nothing to play for in the remaining games and can go out and enjoy playing without pressure before building again for next season.
Meanwhile for Luton, there is now a healthy five-point cushion between themselves and the teams outside of the play-off places. The crucial 1-0 win at home to promotion rivals Nottingham Forest will have done their morale the world of good and, having lost just one of the last six, I can see them sneaking another important win here.
Prutton predicts: 0-1 (Sky Bet odds)
For so long, it looked as though QPR would be a shoo-in for a play-off place this season, but two wins since the start of February illustrates just how much of a dip in form they have endured. The 2-2 draw with Huddersfield kept them in with a mathematical chance of a top-six finish, but it looks unlikely at this stage.
Derby will give them a tough game, though, that is for sure. With preferred bidder Chris Kirchner in attendance on Friday night, Wayne Rooney’s Rams fought back to beat leaders Fulham and delay their automatic promotion party. I could well have to swallow my words here, but I think Rangers may just edge this one.
Prutton predicts: 1-0 (Sky Bet odds)
Bristol City’s situation is similar to that of Cardiff, in that Nigel Pearson’s men are simply playing for pride now. I suppose that, given their 19th-placed finish last term, bettering that is a realistic prospect in what remains.
Sheffield United currently occupy the final play-off spot, two points clear of Middlesbrough, but recent results suggest their place there is far from secure. The 2-1 loss to Reading last time out hit their chances of gaining further comfort and they are now 16th in the form table over the past 10 games. However, I think three important points will be for the taking here.
Prutton predicts: 1-2 (Sky Bet odds)
That narrow defeat to Luton on Friday will have hurt Forest, who were riding high after winning five games on the trot before that. It is clear to see they will be out to put the record straight and make sure they finish inside the top six, with their place far from secure.
A cautiously optimistic West Brom boss Steve Bruce has asked the question: “In football anything can happen. But I still think we have too much to do. It’s still ‘what if?'”. The Baggies have been written off as late play-off contenders by many, but I think Monday’s game will well and truly put any talk to bed.
Prutton predicts: 2-0 (Sky Bet odds)
Prutton’s other predictions (All Monday 3pm kick off unless stated)
Blackburn vs Stoke: 2-1
Millwall vs Hull: 2-2
Reading vs Swansea: 2-1
Fulham vs Preston (Tues 7.45pm): 3-1