On the day that 33-1 outsider Rule The World won the Grand National at Aintree the Football League runners and riders faced crucial matches which could go a long way to determining their divisions for next season.
With plenty of hurdles left in the promotion race and potential fallers looking directly at the relegation trap door it was a crucial afternoon for many Football League clubs.
In the Championship, Burnley and Middlesbrough showed their ability to grind out results after recording narrow 1-0 victories over Leeds United and Preston North End. The pressure is now on the shoulders of Brighton & Hove Albion in third position who do not play until tomorrow night.
Wigan Athletic’s 1-0 victory over Coventry City puts The Latics four points clear at the top of League 1 and the Lancashire club now look the likely champions and could be set for an immediate return to the Championship. At the bottom of the table, Oldham Athletic’s revival continued with an impressive 1-0 home success over promotion chasing Walsall which hauled the club out of the relegation zone.
In League 2, a 2-2 draw with Bristol Rovers was enough to ensure that Northampton Town become the first Football League club this season to seal promotion. Accrington Stanley’s excellent season continued with a 2-0 away victory over Luton Town and AFC Wimbledon pulled off a shock 2-1 success over Plymouth Argyle at Home Park to edge into the Play Off places.
Cardiff City’s Play Off chase took a significant set back as a 2-1 defeat at Fulham left The Bluebirds five points behind sixth position. It was a bad day for the bottom three clubs who all suffered defeats. Bolton Wanderers were relegated to League 1 after a 4-1 mauling at Derby County while Charlton Athletic lost 2-1 in a London derby at Queens Park Rangers. Rotherham United’s 4-0 demolition of MK Dons at Stadium MK looks to have sealed relegation for all three clubs currently sitting in the relegation zone.
Burton Albion’s recent stutter in League 1 continued with a 1-0 defeat at Scunthorpe United while Johnstones’ Paint Trophy winners Barnsley’s Play Off hopes suffered a blow with a 2-1 home defeat to Chesterfield. Blackpool dropped back into the relegation zone after being defeated by lowly Colchester United at Bloomfield Road while Shrewsbury Town’s 3-1 defeat at Millwall pushed The Shrews closer to danger.
In League 2, Bristol Rovers and Plymouth Argyle blown their chances of moving into the automatic promotion places after failing to win while a 1-1 draw between York City and Wycombe Wanderers did nothing to help either clubs’ cause. The Minstermen look certain for a non league return along with Dagenham and Redbridge who were beaten 4-1 at home by Portsmouth.
The Football League continues to be one of the most exciting competitions in world football and there are many twists and turns ahead before the season reaches it’s finale next month.