Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Championship 2012/13: Season Review

Moving on from League's One and Two, focus turns to the Championship and a time to reflect on a brilliant season in the top division of the Football League.

The craziness on the final day of the season was one that will take some beating, and as for the play-offs, the level of entertainment will be difficult to match. Automatic promotion, the play-off positions and relegation all needed sorting on the final day of the season with the majority of the sides in the league having something to play for.

The race for the title was settled fairly quickly as Cardiff finally secured promotion after a number of unsuccessful attempts in previous seasons. Under the management of Malky Mackay, the Bluebirds finished eight points clear of second place. It was the battle for second place though that caught the eye throughout the year as it went down to the final moments of the last game of the season. Watford and Hull had it all to play for as the latter at one point were six points clear of Watford. However after a poor run in their final few games, Hull managed to better Watford's result on the final day of the season to finish second and give Steve Bruce another chance to manage in the Premier League.

Malky Mackay guided Cardiff to the Premier League
For Watford and Gianfranco Zola, it was the play-offs. The drama continued for the Hornets as they overcame Leicester in the semi finals to reach Wembley and be 90 minutes away from the Premier League. The drama came as Leicester were awarded a late penalty in the second leg of the semi final which if scored, essentially sent them through to the final. However a heroic double save from Manuel Almunia allowed Watford to break up the field and score themselves sending their fans wild and putting them through to the final. They faced Crystal Palace in the battle for the final promotion spot, with an extra time penalty from Kevin Phillips making sure it was Ian Holloway's men who made a return to the top flight, after an eight year absence. They had beaten Brighton 2-0 over two games in their semi final.

Moving down to the other end of the table, and the fight for survival also went down to the final day of the season. Bristol City had already been relegated before the final day, as six teams went head to head to avoid the drop. Having already been relegated from the Premier League in the previous season, Wolves faced another relegation as they were beaten by Brighton to send them down to League One. They were joined by battling Peterborough United who threw away a 2-1 lead away at Palace to lose 3-2, and saw Barnsley draw at Huddersfield to end their time in the second tier of English football. The results on the final day meant that looking at the final league table, just the seven points separated third bottom Peterborough with tenth place Derby County.

Looking forward to the 2013/14 season, six new teams join the Championship. Coming from the Premier League will be QPR, Reading and Wigan Athletic, with all three teams looking to make an immediate return to the top flight. From League One, Doncaster, Bournemouth and Yeovil will join the division making up the 24 teams.

The fixtures for the 2013/14 Championship season will be released on Wednesday 19th June 2013 at 9am.

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