League One promotion race looks to go to the wire

Winger Adam Lallana stings the Bees : Courtesy of Southampton Football Club

Another thrilling day of League One football saw the race for the final automatic promotion slot go right to the wire. With wins for both Southampton and Huddersfield, the automatic promotion race can’t officially be sewn up untill the final day of the season. Huddersfield were victorious thanks to a

last-minute winner against champions Brighton to keep the heat on second place Southampton, who defeated mid-table Brentford with a comfortable three-nil win.

Both teams began the day on 83 points, however the Saints held the automatic promotion place, due to a superior goal difference of +41, compared to the +28 of Huddersfield. The Saints began the game strongly, with a few early chances. The early pressure told on the sixteenth minute, when Saints winger Adam Lallana struck home from outside the area, after a clever passing move from Guly do Prado and Rickie Lambert. This early goal was necessary seeing as The Terriers had taken an early lead against Brighton at the Withdean.

Saints continued to pile the pressure on the hosts, notching up chances. Veteran striker David Connolly latched onto a ball from keeper Kelvin Davies and somehow managed to clip the ball over the head of the advancing Brentford stopper, Simon Moore. The Saints dominated the entire first 45 minutes, with the Bees unable to create any decent chance at Davis’ goal. Guly do Prado had to be removed after the second goal with a minor injury. He was replaced by Oscar Gobern.  Half Time 0-2 at Griffin Park and 0-1 at the Withdean.

The second half began with jubilation for the Southampton fans, as news spread of an equaliser at the Withdean. The travelling Saints filled Griffin Park with a chant of “Seagulls, Seagulls” in appreciation for the Brighton equaliser. The 1,800 travelling Saints remained in great spirits throughout the second half, while their side continued to dominate control of the match.

Brentford did begin to enter the game late in the second half. The Bees sent a few balls across the box to no avail and Davis was forced to make a good save low down. These chances mounted, untill right back Frazer Richardson took down Weston unnecessarily in the box, giving the Bees a late chance from the spot. Saunders stepped up to the spot, only to have his kick saved by Kelvin Davis.

Saints completed their domination of the game in added time, when midfielder Oscar Gobern tucked into an empty net after Lallana tricked his way through the Bees defence and cut back nicely for Gobern to score his first for the club. Securing the three-goal win was not quite enough to send the Saints into the Championship, as in an action packed second period at the Withdean, Brighton had twice come from behind, only for Huddersfield to grab an injury time winner.

Both sides finish the day with 86 points, however the Saints have only increased their goal difference with their big win against Brentford. With the Saints playing Plymouth on Monday and Walsall next Saturday, it is looking likely one win will secure automatic promotion. Despite the result on Monday, it will still be mathematically possible for the Terriers to catch the Saints, despite an extremely inferior goal difference.

The Saints promotion party may have been spoiled today, but needing just three points from two games, Huddersfield look like they are going to need a miracle to earn promotion to the Championship automatically.

How do you think the League One promotion race will end? Let me know your comments on Facebook, Twitter @naspearing and on the blog itself.

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