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Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

22-1 Colchester are a good bet to come through playoff pack

Colchester could be celebrating promotion at the end of the season
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We have hit the final furlong in the Sky Bet Football League and here's how the picture looks for the many sides who still have plenty to play for over the next few weeks.

Sky Bet Championship
Brighton are already promoted and Newcastle are 1-100 to join them in the Premier League next season, but for the teams in the playoff pack it looks as if one from Sheffield Wednesday, Fulham and Leeds will miss out on.

Fulham head to Sheffield on the final day which could be a playoff before the playoffs, while there's a real scrap down at the bottom where Wigan are almost certain to join Rotherham in division three and Blackburn are odds-on to slip out of the Championship too.

However, Tony Mowbray's men are only one point behind 4-1 shots Nottingham Forest. That's the same price as Birmingham, who possibly have most to fear from a Blackburn revival unless Harry Redknapp's appointment works its magic.

Sky Bet League One 
Unlike the other Football League sections there are only two full rounds of matches remaining rather than three. Sheffield United have already been crowned champions but second-placed Bolton are wobbling with just one goal scored in their last five games and Fleetwood two points behind.

The playoff picture is just as tight with Millwall (4-6 to finish in the top six with Sky Bet), Southend (11-8) and Rochdale (14-1) the three teams realistically battling for the last place.

Southend have an easier run-in than Millwall so could be the value, although there is no great desire to get involved, while down at the bottom it's long odds-on that Swindon join relegated Coventry and Chesterfield in League Two next season.

Port Vale, despite having a game in hand, are 3-10 to also go down which is fully justified as they still have to play Bolton and Fleetwood.

Sky Bet League Two 
Doncaster, Plymouth and Portsmouth have been promoted and Rovers are 1-7 to win the title as they hold a three-point buffer on Argyle but all three sides can still be crowned champions.

However, the race for the playoffs is set to be a thriller with fifth-placed Stevenage only four points clear of 13th-placed Wycombe and only Luton at this stage seem certain to be in the top seven.

The playoff market is made for a bet as there are big prices knocking around, particularly as Stevenage have lost star striker Matt Godden to injury and have a goal difference of only plus eight which makes them more vulnerable than Exeter (plus 16) or Blackpool (plus 19).

Eighth-placed Carlisle have won once in 11 and maybe 22-1 pokes Colchester are the ones who can take advantage. Their run-in looks quite nice with a short trip to bottom club Leyton Orient and a home date with Yeovil to come after Plymouth have visited Essex.

This is the perfect time for United, who are on a run of ten wins in 13 matches on home soil, to face a Plymouth side who gained promotion only on Monday. 

Luton and Stevenage have been turned over at Colchester in recent weeks despite the continued absence of influential performers and if they can justify narrow favouritism against Plymouth the last two games look perfect.

A small dart on Mansfield may also be worth chancing. On shots-on-target ratio (share of match shots) the Stags are the second-best side in the division behind Pompey and if they can bypass plenty of traffic Steve Evans's side would be a huge playoff threat.

Orient need a miracle to survive down at the bottom, while Newport are one point behind Hartlepool in what looks a match between the two strugglers to survive.

Newport are scrapping better than Hartlepool so County are a little short at 4-6 to drop out of the Football League and those looking for a punt are pointed towards 13-8 Hartlepool.

Recommendations
Colchester to be promoted
0.5pt 22-1 Sky Bet
Mansfield to be promoted
0.5pt 20-1 general


Championship remaining fixtures - Friday: Norwich v Brighton; Saturday: Brentford v QPR, Bristol City v Barnsley, Burton v Leeds, Huddersfield v Fulham, Nottm Forest v Reading, Rotherham v Ipswich, Sheff Wed v Derby, Wigan v Cardiff, Wolves v Blackburn; Sunday: Aston Villa v Birmingham; Monday: Newcastle v Preston; Tuesday: Wolves v Huddersfield; April 28: Cardiff v Newcastle; April 29: Barnsley v Burton, Birmingham v Huddersfield, Blackburn v Aston Villa, Derby v Wolves, Fulham v Brentford, Ipswich v Sheff Wed, Leeds v Norwich, Preston v Rotherham, QPR v Nottm Forest, Reading v Wigan, Brighton v Bristol City; May 7: Aston Villa v Brighton, Brentford v Blackburn, Bristol City v Birmingham, Burton v Reading, Huddersfield v Cardiff, Newcastle v Barnsley, Norwich v QPR, Nottm Forest v Ipswich, Rotherham v Derby, Sheff Wed v Fulham, Wigan v Leeds, Wolves v Preston.


League One remaining fixtures - Saturday: Bradford v AFC Wimbledon, Bury v Northampton, Chesterfield v Charlton, Coventry v Walsall, Gillingham v Fleetwood, Millwall v Oxford, MK Dons v Sheff Utd, Oldham v Rochdale, Peterborough v Bristol Rovers, Port Vale v Bolton, Shrewsbury v Southend, Swindon v Scunthorpe; Tuesday: Walsall v Port Vale; April 30: AFC Wimbledon v Oldham, Bolton v Peterborough, Bristol Rovers v Millwall, Charlton v Swindon, Fleetwood v Port Vale, Northampton v Gillingham, Oxford v Shrewsbury, Rochdale v Bradford, Scunthorpe v Coventry, Sheff Utd v Chesterfield, Southend v Bury, Walsall v MK Dons.


League Two - Saturday: Blackpool v Cheltenham, Colchester v Plymouth, Crawley v Carlisle, Crewe v Leyton Orient, Exeter v Morecambe, Grimsby v Yeovil, Hartlepool v Barnet, Luton v Notts County, Newport v Accrington, Portsmouth v Cambridge, Stevenage v Mansfield, Wycombe v Doncaster; April 29: Accrington v Luton, Barnet v Grimsby, Cambridge v Crawley, Carlisle v Newport, Cheltenham v Hartlepool, Doncaster v Exeter, Leyton Orient v Colchester, Mansfield v Portsmouth, Morecambe v Wycombe, Notts County v Blackpool, Plymouth v Crewe, Yeovil v Stevenage; May 6: Blackpool v Leyton Orient, Colchester v Yeovil, Crawley v Mansfield, Crewe v Barnet, Exeter v Carlisle, Grimsby v Plymouth, Hartlepool v Doncaster, Luton v Morecambe, Newport v Notts County, Portsmouth v Cheltenham, Stevenage v Accrington, Wycombe v Cambridge.

A small dart on Mansfield may also be worth a second look
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