Championship focus: Automatic promotion looks to go down to final day

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images
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Brighton’s hope heading into Tuesday’s batch of Championship matches was that Burnley and Middlesbrough would split points and open up the automatic promotion race.

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The Seagulls got just that in a day that saw six of 12 matches end as draws, and it sure looks like the final day of the season will end up dictating which two teams go up automatically, and which remaining squad will be the top seed in the playoffs.

Burnley 1-1 Middlesbrough

Jordan Rhodes’ red-hot form continues, as the big January buy scored in 70th minute and looked set to give Boro a 4-point lead atop the table. But Michael Keane equalized in stoppage time, giving the hosts a dramatic draw and a hold on second place.

Brighton & Hove Albion 4-0 QPR

Former Leicester City man Anthony Knockaert scored twice to key the Seagulls’ rout of Queens Park Rangers, giving Brighton wins in six of seven and consecutive blowout wins (The Seagulls clobbered Fulham 5-0 over the weekend).

The rest of the way in…
Middlesbrough: vs. Ipswich, at Birmingham, vs. Brighton
Burnley: at Preston, vs. QPR, at Charlton
Brighton: at Charlton, vs. Derby County, at Middlesbrough

Yes, it looks almost certain that the Seagulls and Boro will be within touching distance table-wise when they lock horns on the final day of the season, while Burnley will face already-relegated Charlton on the road.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Derby County and Hull City picked up wins, while Sheffield Wednesday drew to almost assure it will be the fourth seed in the promotion playoffs, and earn a date with the disappointed team that fails to clinch automatic promotion.