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Sunday, 05 May 2013

The View Outside The Premier League: Hull City enjoy the rollercoaster but Peterborough lose out in musical chairs


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Sqf hugh larkin

To call it high drama doesn't even do justice to the last day of the Championship. All three major issues - promotion, play-offs and relegation went to the last minute.

At the KC Stadium Hull City made sure they did it the hardest of hard ways before finding a way back to the Premier League. Going a goal down to champions Cardiff, then they battled to a 2-1 lead and were offered a gilt-edged chance to seal matters with a last-gasp penalty.

But Nick Proschwitz failed from the spot and a minute later Cardiff had their own spot kick at the other end. When Nicky Maynard converted, it left the door open to Watford.

The Hornets had struggled against Leeds all afternoon after losing Manuel Almunia in the warm-up and then Johnathan Bond went down in the game. It left untried teenager Jack Bonham between the sticks and the game about 15 minutes behind the others.

The Hornets were struggling to a draw with Leeds when news of Cardiff's late equaliser came in. It meant one goal could promote Gianfranco Zola's side and they came close to it before they were picked off on the break by Ross McCormack to save Hull's bacon.

Poor Bonham was at fault for both goals, but hopefully his time will come again. Watford have to gird up for the play-offs. Brighton and Crystal Palace will join them and are paired together for what is always a spicy contest.

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When the dust settled at the bottom of the table it was Peterborough United and Wolves who were left in the two reaming relegation slots. Wolves knew their fate early on and Brighton skated to a comfortable victory; but not the Posh who came within just a few minutes of a great escape.

Peterborough put up a tremendous battle at Crystal Palace, who have wobbled into the close of the season. Sheffield Wednesday solved their problem by dispatching Middlesbrough, so Posh were competing with Barnsley, Huddersfield Town and Millwall.

The two Yorkshire sides were in opposition and at one point in the afternoon Huddersfield were in the relegation places as their visitors took the lead. But late in the day the home side had pulled things back and with Peterborough on for a point, the Tykes were back in the soup.

Unfortunately (or not, if you're from Barnsley) Crystal Palace grabbed a late, late goal and it was too late for the valiant Posh to fight back again. It capped a remarkable escape for Dave Flitcroft's squad after their 6-0 home mauling by Charlton just a few weeks ago.

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While all the mayhem was happening at top and bottom, Leicester City managed to pip Nottingham Forest and Bolton Wandeers to the final play-off berth. They started third favourites and were even longer odds when Forest grabbed an early goal against the Foxes.

The good news was that Bolton were imploding at home to Blackpool, conceding twice before the break. But the Trotters fought back to level. Meanwhile Leicester and Forest went toe-to-toe and that game went to 2-2 as well.

Amazingly, Anthony Knockeart produced the knockout blow (sorry) in the 90th minute to give Leicester a win that leapt them over Forest and also Bolton on goal difference. For the moment Nigel Pearson still has a job at the King Power and two games to plot a way past Watford.

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Hugh Larkin

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