EFL WEEKEND: There’s nothing quite like playoff weekend, is there? Between Saturday and Monday, six teams will go head-to-head at Wembley hoping to realise their promotion ambitions in what is guaranteed to be a weekend of high drama in the EFL.


Coventry City v Luton Town – Saturday 16:45

Having only confirmed their playoff place on the final day of the Championship season with a 2-0 win over Birmingham, Coventry successfully squeezed their way into Saturday’s final at Wembley with a tense but mightily impressive 1-0 aggregate win over Middlesbrough. Having endured such a difficult start to the campaign, picking up just two points from their opening six games, Mark Robbins deserves enormous credit for turning the Blues’ season around and putting them on the cusp of what would be an unprecedented appearance in next season’s Premier League.

Robbins’ opposite number in the dugout on Saturday, Rob Edwards, has also experienced a rollercoaster season, leading Luton into this weekend’s final after being sacked from arch-rivals Watford at the start of the season. Their dramatic 2-0 aggregate win over Sunderland in last week’s semi-finals, resulting in a 3-2 aggregate scoreline, came despite having just 38% of the ball and was a testament to the defensive discipline instilled in them by Edwards, who has seen his side concede more than one goal in just three games since he took over.

This is a tough one to call, particularly given both league fixtures between the sides ended in score-draws, but we like the look of Luton here. They were the standout pick of the four playoff teams coming into the semi-finals and displayed their Premier League credentials with that performance at the Riverside Stadium last week. Backing Luton at 2.5 is the play.

Coventry City v Luton Town markets

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League One 

Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday – Monday 15:00

Unlike in their previous encounter at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton Wanderers were unable to find a response to a Barnsley opener at Oakwell on Friday, meaning the Tykes edged past their Greater Manchester opponents by just a single goal. That victory was actually Barnsley’s first in five games after a couple of home defeats knocked the wind out of Michael Duff’s side’s sails, but the disciplined nature of their dismissal of an in-form Bolton side underlines their credentials coming into Monday’s fixture.

Even the most inventive of script writers wouldn’t have given Sheffield Wednesday much hope after being dismantled by Peterborough on May 12th, but that reverse fixture at Hillsborough simply goes down as one of the greatest playoff moments in history. Darren Moore’s men played much more like the team who had won their last four League One games on the bounce after a little slip between April and May and will arrive at Wembley as the marginal favourites to start next season in the Championship.

Barnsley proved throughout the Spring period that they are certainly one of the best teams in the division on their day, putting four goals past Monday’s opponents in March, but Sheffield Wednesday will fancy their chances. The form trajectory of each side favours the Owls, who will feel they can win from any situation after the chaos against Peterborough last week. We’re backing the Owls at 2.3 to taste victory in this one.

Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday markets

League Two

Carlisle United v Stockport County – Sunday 13:30

Stockport’s 1-0 win over Salford in the second leg of their semi-final joust maintained the Hatters’ remarkable unbeaten home record, with Dave Challinor’s side last tasting defeat in front of their own fans in the final match before the World Cup break. There will however be no home comfort when they line up against Carlisle at Wembley on Sunday, even if they did go unbeaten against their opposition throughout the domestic season by winning one and drawing the other.

Carlisle had to do things the hard way against Bradford after losing the first leg of their semi final by a single goal, winning the reverse fixture 3-1 after replicating that 1-0 scoreline after 90 minutes. The result represents a rare recent victory for the Cumbrian side, who had won just two of their previous 12 league games in a run of form that almost cost them their place in the playoff semi finals as the season drew to a close.

With both teams priced above evens, there’s certainly money to be made here, and we like the look of Stockport when evaluating both sides’ recent form and head-to-head record. Carlisle will likely give a good account of themselves and will be buoyed by their comeback victory over Bradford, but we’re backing Stockport at 2.5 to begin next season in League One.

Carlisle United v Stockport County markets

THE STRIKER Sun: Super Sunday Preview
THE ULTRA Sun: Serie A and La Liga Preview
DAQMAN Sat: Ayr Gold Cup Day !
EFL PREVIEW Sat: Championship, League One, League Two
SHAMROCK Sat: Listowel Preview
THE ULTRA Sat: Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A
THE EDGE Sat: England v Ireland 2nd ODI
THE STRIKER Sat: Premier League Preview
PAT HEALY: All eyes on Harvest Festival
WEEK AHEAD: Premier League, Solheim Cup, Rugby World Cup
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