Four into one: Who takes the second League One promotion spot?
Barring a spectacular collapse, Luton Town look safe at the top of League One. Then things get interesting. Barnsley, Sunderland, Portsmouth and Charlton are all fighting it out for the final automatic promotion spot in the third-tier.
But who will get it over the line? We’ve taken a look at the pros and cons of the four fallen giants fighting it out for promotion back to the Championship.
Barnsley (8/13) P42, PTS 82
Pros: First and foremost, Barnsley are already in position. The Tykes have a two-point gap back to Sunderland and don’t face any of League One’s top-half in their final four matches.
They’ve also got history in this division. Daniel Stendel’s men were last promoted in 2016. A number of that squad still remain and will be crucial in understanding what it takes to go up.
Cons: Their form remains pretty good. But the goals have dried up somewhat without Kieffer Moore. The 26-year-old has 18 to his name but won’t be available again until next season.
That’s meant a number of inconsistent results, including five draws in their last 10 matches. More of the same could see them leapfrogged by their promotion rivals.
Sunderland (4/6) P41, PTS 80
Pros: They’ve got a game in hand. That gives them a type of insurance policy. But they need to win it. The Black Cats also have no trouble scoring with Will Grigg and Charlie Wyke leading the line.
Ultimately they’ve probably got the squad best equipped for the job. However, the best squads don’t always go up.
Cons: After a 19-match unbeaten run in League One the Black Cats are now winless in two. They arguably have the toughest run-in, too, with Doncaster, Peterborough and Portsmouth to come.
If they falter at home to Rovers on Good Friday, it could be tough for the Mackems to revive their promotion bid.
Portsmouth (11/10) P41, PTS 80
Pros: Pompey are the form team. The South Coast club have won five in a row in the league and have netted twice or more in each match. Striker Brett Pitman is on fire at just the right time.
Don’t forget Kenny Jackett either. There’s a reason the 57-year-old has led both Wolves and Millwall to promotion from this division. He knows what it takes to get a side over the line in this situation.
Cons: It’s difficult to find a hole in Portsmouth at the moment, although one criticism which could be levelled at them is that they’re a streaky side. Lose one or draw one and it could snowball.
Their record at Fratton Park is also comparatively week against the home form displayed by their rivals. Could that haunt them with three more home matches yet to come?
Charlton Athletic (3/1) P42, PTS 79
Pros: Momentum. The Addicks are latecomers to the promotion race but their momentum shouldn’t be underestimated following a run of seven wins in an 11-match unbeaten run.
Lyle Taylor is proving the difference-maker up-front. While their final four fixtures look very attractive against Oxford, Scunthorpe, Gillingham and Rochdale. They also have a fully fit squad to choose from for the first time this season.
Cons: Lee Bowyer’s men aren’t always the best on the road. The Addicks have the worst record of the four main contenders away from home, although they have won their last two on their travels.
Not only that, but they’re chasing. The Londoners have an inferior goal difference to the three sides above them and require snookers if they want to make it back to the Championship.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.