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Fixtures

#FixtureReleaseDay: A look back at last season's key dates

17 June 2016

With the EFL's Fixture Release Day for the 2016/17 campaign fast approaching, we're taking a look back at some highlights from last season's key dates.

When the fixtures are released at 9am on Wednesday 22nd June, there will be certain games that all fans will be keeping an eye out for.

Home or away on the opening day? Where will you be travelling to over the festive season? And, of course, who will you have to beat to potentially win the title in the final game?

Here, we pick out some of the crucial match-ups from last term, which went a long way to deciding the outcome of promotion and relegation.

But, before that, check out our Fixture Release Day Q&A with EFL Competitions Manager Paul Snellgrove to learn more about the fixture compilation process.

Read more: Behind the scenes at the EFL – Fixtures Q&A with Competitions Manager Paul Snellgrove


Opening Day

Brighton & Hove Albion versus Nottingham Forest was selected as the 2015/16 season opener live on Sky Sports, and the Seagulls won 1-0 to start an incredible unbeaten run of 21 Sky Bet Championship games.

Three points in the opener doesn't always breed that sort of success, though. Milton Keynes Dons fans enjoyed a trip to Yorkshire for their first ever second-tier fixture, but their 4-1 victory at Rotherham United was one of few highlights as they went on to suffer immediate relegation.

The fixture list threw up two London derbies for the fans to enjoy over the first weekend – one in the Sky Bet Championship and one in Sky Bet League Two. Charlton Athletic hosted Queens Park Rangers, while Leyton Orient and Barnet clashed in the capital – the hosts ran out 2-0 winners in both.



A Staffordshire derby took place on the opening Saturday of the Sky Bet League One season, with Port Vale fans making the 13-mile journey to neighbours Crewe Alexandra to witness a goalless draw.

A very northern-looking division meant relatively short journeys for a number of other sides. Barnsley were one of those, making an unsuccessful 50-mile round trip to Chesterfield, but they famously turned their season around to achieve promotion.

Yeovil Town fans are used to long journeys from their southerly location, but they opened up their League Two campaign with less than an hour's drive across to Exeter City. It would have felt a lot longer coming back though, following a late 3-2 defeat to the Grecians.

Exeter's Devon rivals Plymouth Argyle were victorious at AFC Wimbledon on the opening day, but the Dons had the last laugh – overcoming the Pilgrims at Wembley in the Play-Off Final.

Festive period

With some clubs facing the prospect of up to five games across the 18-day festive period, the weeks either side of Christmas can be the difference between success and failure over the course of a year.

It's also a time when the weather can wreak havoc with the fixture list, which was the case in all three divisions last term.

In the Sky Bet Championship, Middlesbrough topped the standings on Christmas Day, but their postponed clash with Blackburn on Boxing Day meant Derby County replaced them at the summit, following a 2-0 win over Fulham.

Hull City and Burnley both won promotion to the top flight come May, but it was the Tigers who prevailed convincingly in their Boxing Day match-up, winning 3-0 at the KCOM Stadium.

Elsewhere, Sheffield Wednesday bagged an important victory over fellow Play-Off rivals Birmingham City – winning 3-0 – while Rotherham United secured an important three points against bottom club Bolton Wanderers. The Millers would go on to book another season in the Championship, while the Trotters were relegated.

A few days later, and Burnley bounced back with a win as Sky Bet Championship Player of the Year Andre Gray netted his first EFL hat-trick, and Middlesbrough's win over Sheffield Wednesday saw them return to the top at Derby's expense, after the Rams were held at Leeds United.

In Sky Bet League One, it was Walsall who seized the festive period initiative, taking maximum points – against Millwall and Peterborough United – to top the pile heading into 2016.

But the Saddlers would go on to miss out on promotion last season – they were knocked out in the Play-Off Semi-Finals at the hands of eventual winners Barnsley – with Burton Albion pipping them to the honour.

And the Brewers had a relatively successful Christmas, going unbeaten throughout December to occupy joint-top at the turn of the year.

Other significant results included back-to-back wins for Gillingham, who were well in the promotion hunt at the time, and Barnsley's 4-2 triumph at Blackpool, which ignited a run of seven-straight League One victories as they later stormed to a promotion and Trophy double.

In what was an otherwise smooth season for Sky Bet League Two winners Northampton Town, their festive schedule was interrupted by the weather as their Boxing Day trip up to York City was called off.

And although the Cobblers defeated Accrington Stanley 1-0 at Sixfields two days later, it meant Plymouth Argyle's successive wins – over Yeovil Town and Newport County – handed them top spot on New Year's Day.

Oxford United kept within striking distance of their two promotion rivals too, taking four points from a possible six over Christmas, with their draw at Yeovil reducing the Glovers to the bottom of the table, as Dagenham & Redbridge – eventually relegated – momentarily escaped the drop zone.

It was also a solid month for League Two's final promoted club, Bristol Rovers, who contested a goalless draw with Play-Off Final winners AFC Wimbledon, and downed Leyton Orient 2-1 to grab a foothold in the race for Sky Bet League One.

Final Day

Bristol Rovers were handed a last-day clash against Dagenham & Redbridge who had already been relegated, and they came from behind to triumph 2-1 with Lee Brown netting a last-gap winner.

That saw Rovers leapfrog Accrington Stanley to earn a second successive promotion in the most dramatic fashion, after John Coleman's men were held at home by Stevenage.

Wycombe made the relatively short trip up the M40 to face Oxford United on the last day but they couldn't stop the U's rising into Sky Bet League One as Michael Appleton's men cruised to a 3-0 success. Champions Northampton Town, meanwhile, ended their season in style on the south coast by beating Portsmouth 2-1.

Elsewhere, Hartlepool United fans were up to their usual fancy dress antics on the final day, making the long trip to Plymouth Argyle in Stormtrooper outfits, only to watch their side suffer a 5-0 thumping.

The fixtures computer came up trumps in the Sky Bet Championship on the final day with Middlesbrough and Brighton & Hove Albion going head-to-head in a straight shoot-out for promotion.

A draw was enough for Boro to go up and they achieved that in a 1-1 scoreline, while champions Burnley ended the campaign in the capital, winning 3-0 at relegated Charlton Athletic.

There was a last-day Yorkshire derby at the KCOM Stadium as Hull City hit form going into the Play-Offs – which they eventually won – courtesy of a 5-1 victory over Rotherham United. Elsewhere, Fixture Release Day came up with a Lancashire versus Yorkshire battle at Deepdale, where Preston North End and Leeds United shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

In Sky Bet League One, champions Wigan Athletic had been given a final day clash with Barnsley, who needed a victory to confirm their Play-Off place. The Tykes came out on top at the DW, flying to a 4-1 win, before going on to seal Play-Off success at Wembley.

Scunthorpe United were the side that could've denied them a place in the top six and, although they won 2-0 at Sheffield United, who were managed by their former boss Nigel Adkins, it wasn't enough.

The fixtures computer gave Burton Albion a last-day visit to Doncaster Rovers and few would've predicted that they would be going there on the verge of securing promotion, while Rovers were all-but relegated. It was a nervy affair but the Brewers secured the all-important point in a 0-0 draw in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Walsall missed out on promotion to Burton despite winning 5-0 at Port Vale, and Peterborough United also hit five against Blackpool to relegate the Tangerines. While Blackpool were on the road, their near-neighbours Fleetwood confirmed their Sky Bet League One place for another season with a 2-0 victory at home to Crewe Alexandra.

Elsewhere, Millwall made the relatively short journey to Gillingham and won 2-1 to go into the Play-Offs on form, but the Lions eventually fell under the arch to Barnsley in the final.

Click here to register your details to receive your club’s fixtures into your inbox from 9am on 22nd June and be the first to know when you can download all the Season 16/17 fixtures directly to your calendar.

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