The final weekend of the regular EFL campaign never fails to deliver, and the 2020/21 instalment was no different!
Here are just some of the key stories as promotions, relegations and Play-Off places were confirmed...
When the merry-go-round finally stopped, the winners were…?
Hope. Disappointment. Relief. Despair. Elation. Pride. The Sky Bet Championship relegation battle had it all in a final 90 minutes that was played out from Middlesbrough through Derby to Cardiff. In turns during a nerve-jangling climax, Derby, Rotherham, Derby again, Rotherham once more, Sheffield Wednesday and finally Derby for keeps had hold of the precious ticket into next season’s Championship. Rotherham’s brave fight was sunk by a late Cardiff equaliser, Wycombe’s 3-0 win at Middlesbrough fell predictably short and Wednesday conceded a penalty 12 minutes from time at Pride Park which saved Derby at the expense of the Owls.
Goals galore on a madcap final day
Maybe it was because the Championship players were demob happy after squeezing 55 sets of fixtures into a 46-week period, including the frantic delayed end to last season, because 48 goals flew in during the season finale on Saturday lunchtime. No single matchday in the past 12 months had witnessed so many. Coventry City and Blackburn Rovers led the way in the jamboree, with 6-1 and 5-2 victories over Millwall and Birmingham City, respectively.
Reliable quartet seal promotions for Cambridge and Bolton
Having already frittered away three opportunities for automatic promotion between them prior to Saturday afternoon, Cambridge United and Bolton Wanderers relied on old favourites to see them take the final step into Sky Bet League One. Wes Hoolahan scored his seventh goal to add to nine assists this season, while Paul Mullin’s 32nd goal of an astonishing campaign sealed Cambridge’s decisive 3-0 win over relegated Grimsby. Eoin Doyle and Antoni Sarcevic were among Bolton’s scorers in the 4-1 win at Crawley. It was the third League Two promotion of Doyle’s career and the fourth for Sarcevic.
Haven’t we played you here before?
Two seasons ago, Tranmere Rovers squeezed past Newport County in extra-time in the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final. An intriguing set of final day results mean that the pair could meet at Wembley again. They began the day seeded to play each other in the Semi-Finals and each claimed the point they needed to secure a Play-Off berth - Newport in a 1-1 draw at Southend, Tranmere in a tense 0-0 draw with Colchester. However, Forest Green Rovers’ 3-0 victory at Oldham separated the pair into different Semi-Finals and set up the tantalising prospect of a Wembley rematch.
Twenty-four hours like no other
It was quite the weekend for Oxford United midfielder James Henry whose wife gave birth on Saturday night. Henry showed no signs of fatigue on Sunday lunchtime when his 10th-minute cross was converted by Olamide Shodipo for the opening goal of a 4-0 victory over Burton Albion. That win clinched Oxford’s Play-Off place at the expense of Portsmouth, 1-0 losers at home to Accrington Stanley. It’s safe to assume that Henry won’t be asking for extended paternity leave.