The connotations for League One automatic promotion - can Sunderland actually do it?

Probably not the nicest read you could have on a Friday afternoon!

by GMac88 Friday, 26 April 2019 10:52 AM Comments


40k are expected at the Stadium of Light tomorrow afternoon to watch Sunderland fight to stay in the automatic promotion hunt. Lose, and Portsmouth would need just one point in their remaining two games to send us into the play offs.

Even a draw would make things incredibly difficult for Sunderland. They would need Portsmouth to slip up, and Barnsley to be winless in their final two games.

It feels like only a win puts the Lads in with a chance. But what exactly would that chance look like? Let's have a look at the three teams above us and how many points we should expect them to get.



An incredible seven straight league wins have rocketed Portsmouth into a position where their own fate is firmly in their hands. Win all three games, and they are at worst runners up. That said, they have the hardest run in. With a trip to the Stadium of Light, where only Coventry have left victors, followed by the visits of play-off hopefuls Peterborough before possibly the more straight forward affair of Accrington Stanley at home.

I hope expect Pompey to slow down in their last three games starting with defeat tomorrow night. I also think Peterborough are a side you don't want to play at the moment, and perhaps they could get a point, before Portsmouth win their final game against Stanley. That would leave them on 90 points, a total Sunderland are capable of surpassing.



Having sat fairly comfortably at the top of the table for some months, Luton have stumbled at an inconvenient time. Just one win in their last four, dropping seven points in the process, has allowed the trio of hungry hunters behind them to close the gap. They're certainly not home and hosed, but for Sunderland to catch them they will have to only gain a solitary point in their remaining two fixtures given their vastly superior goal difference.

Their two games begins away against Burton, who have never threatened an immediate return to the Championship after an indifferent campaign. They are capable of an upset, but it feels an unlikely source. Should they lose, their final game is an incredibly tricky one against a resurgent Oxford United side who are unbeaten in eight - despite going down to ten men in three of those encounters.

I expect them to secure four points here, ending their season on a total of 95 and out of reach for Sunderland. However, they really need to get things done against Burton, which will be no walk over despite the bookies having the away side priced as odds on favourite at 10/11. You can find more tips at to find better value than the current leaders' promotion odds of 1/25.



Four wins on the bounce have thrown Barnsley back into the ascendancy for at least 2nd place after a few draws saw Sunderland leapfrog them for an all too brief period. Things could be very uncomfortable for them if we find three wins, as the Tykes would need five points from their remaining two fixtures to keep ahead of us, assuming they maintain their superior goal difference. Should Portsmouth win out, Barnsley can't do anything about it.

The first of Barnsley's final games come against the only team capable of beating our draw tally this season, Blackpool. They've picked up 17 draws, one less then us, and we'd love them to draw out the season. It would be fantastic. They end their campaign away against Bristol Rovers, who have probably done enough to ensure their safety. 



Without the red and white specs on, Barnsley are in a fantastic position and should win out, putting them on 94 points and out of reach of Sunderland.

To summarise, a trip through the play offs looks the most likely outcome of the regular League One season even if we were to win tomorrow. However, it wouldn't take monumental slip ups from either Luton or Barnsley to change that, but that is all assuming Sunderland win three out of three games. That would get us to 93 points, and  anything less would probably not be enough.

We could, quite incredibly, end up with four teams breaking the 90 point mark this campaign.