Sheffield United and Luton Town secured their Championship play-off spots on the final day of the season – as both sides picked up wins to guarantee their places for a potential spot in the Premier League next season.
Sheffield United disposed of champions Fulham at Bramall Lane with an emphatic 4-0 win. The Blades tore their visitors apart at times with some excellent football – but the Cottagers’ boss Marco Silva will be less than impressed with his side’s defending, despite the title having already been sealed going into their final game.
Goals from Morgan Gibbs-White, Iliman Ndiaye, Sander Berge and Enda Stevens sealed the points as United finish in fifth and booked a play-off semi-final tie against Nottingham Forest.
Luton Town also booked their place in the Championship play-offs after cementing their highest league finish for 30 years by beating Reading 1-0 at Kenilworth Road. Harry Cornick pounced on a lapse of concentration from Royals’ keeper Ørjan Nyland to tuck home the only goal of the game and set up a potentially lucrative finale to this wonderful fairy tale.
Sunday. A day for worshipping our Gods. Ladies and gentlemen. Orjan Nyland. pic.twitter.com/xqKisaTcSb
— LutonTownExile (@LutonTownExile) May 8, 2022
Finishing in sixth place means the Hatters will take on Huddersfield Town in the play-off semi-final. For Reading however, their miserable season finally comes to an end, as they finished 21st, just four points clear of relegation.
After securing promotion in their penultimate game of the season, Bournemouth rounded out the campaign with a 1-0 win at home to Millwall. After dominating most of the game, the deadlock was broken in the final 10 minutes when Kieffer Moore fired the ball home with just Bartosz Bialkowski to beat. Scott Parker’s side return to the top flight at the second time of asking after being beaten in the play-offs last year by Brentford. For Millwall, they finish in ninth place in the Championship table and improve on Gary Rowett’s second full season in charge.
Looking to return to the Premier League at the third time of asking are Huddersfield Town as they finish third this season thanks to a final day 2-0 victory at home to Bristol City. A brilliant individual goal from Harry Toffolo and a scrappy second added by their top goalscorer Danny Ward saw the Yorkshire side fight off the challenge of Nottingham Forest to finish in the top play-off spot. The Robins finish this season in 17th.
Forest thought they may have snatched third spot from the Terriers when Brennan Johnson put them at ahead at Hull City with a 93rd minute penalty, only for Keane Lewis-Potter to equalise for the Tigers just a minute later in a match that ended 1-1 at the MKM Stadium. The appointment of Steve Cooper at the City Ground in late September has been a masterstroke by the Forest board as the Welshman has taken the former European champions from bottom of the Championship to potentially playing in the top flight for the first time since 1999. City finish their first season back in the Championship in 19th and will be happy to have ensured survival this year.
Any chance Middlesbrough had of finishing in the play-off positions on the final day were demolished at the hands of Preston North End who eased past the Teessiders 4-1. Alan Browne got the hosts off the mark with a superb volley with his back to goal, only for Emil Riis to put in a standout performance, grabbing two goals of his own and forcing Dael Fry’s own goal in the first half.
I love Alan Browne , he always gives his all
— L.D.G (@PNEGOINUP) May 7, 2022
Marcus Tavernier did head Boro back to within one goal just minutes after half time, but at 3-1 down, Paddy McNair was shown a straight red card for deliberate handball and Riis dispatched the resulting penalty to grab Preston’s fourth of the afternoon. Chris Wilder’s side finish the season in seventh while the side from Deepdale finish in 13th.
After seeming to be a promotion favourite at the turn of the year, Blackburn Rovers‘ poor second half of the season sees them finish eighth and six points off the play-offs. Despite a poor 2022, Rovers finished the season in style with a deserved 2-1 win away at Birmingham City. Two wonder strikes from John Buckley and Ben Brereton Diaz gave Tony Mowbray’s side all three points in this one, with Kristian Pedersen grabbing the Birmingham consolation goal by finishing off a well worked move.
The Blackburn job appears to be available this summer after Mowbray confirmed that to this point his contract is yet to be renewed, so there is a solid foundation at the club for a new manager to mount a serious promotion charge next season. For the Blues however, Lee Bowyer’s side finish the season 20th and have not finished a campaign higher than 17th in the last six years.
West Bromwich Albion rounded out their campaign by cruising to a 4-0 victory over already relegated Barnsley. Albion took the lead through a controversial penalty which Karlan Grant slotted home. Just three minutes later Adam Reach lobbed Jack Walton to make it 2-0, before Matt Clarke added a third and Grant grabbed his second of the game to complete the rout. It could have been six for Steve Bruce’s side as Grant also hit the post and saw another penalty saved but the damage had already been done. In their first season back at this level, Albion end the season in 10th while Barnsley will be playing in League One next season as they finish bottom of the table.
Another job that appears to be available this summer is the QPR manager’s position after Mark Warburton also confirmed that to this point his contract has not been renewed. If this was to be Warburton’s last game in charge, then he would have ended his tenure with a smile as his side beat Swansea City 1-0 in Wales. Andre Gray grabbed the only goal of the game with 10 minutes to go as QPR ended the season in 11th place, as the Swans finished their first season under Russell Martin in 15th.
Mark Warburton's final @QPR career record.
Goals for: 201
Goals against: 207
away (won) 2-1
— Chris Guy (@ChrisGuyW12) May 7, 2022
Stoke City and Coventry City shared the spoils in their final day clash with a 1-1 draw at the bet365 Stadium. Viktor Gyokeres gave the visitors the lead with a tidy near post finish in the 14th minute. Mark Robins’ side could have been 3-0 to the good before half time if not for some wonderful saves by Joe Bursik in the Stoke goal. Just two minutes before the break, though, Sam Clucas grabbed a leveller for the hosts. Coventry had the better of the second half and could have won the game if not for a goal line clearance by James Chester. The Potters finish 14th for the second season in a row while Coventry improve from last campaign to secure a 12th place finish.
Peterborough United will be playing their football in the third tier next season after their relegation was confirmed before heading into their final game. That did not dampen spirits at the Weston Homes Stadium however as Posh slammed Blackpool 5-0 on their way out of the Championship. Jonson Clarke-Harris opened the scoring before two from Sammie Szmodics, a goal from Jack Marriott and a sensational fifth from Jack Taylor put the teams playing in League One next season on notice that Grant McCann’s side still have what it takes to compete at this level on their day. United end the season 22nd and four points adrift of safety, whereas an excellent season from Blackpool sees them finish 16th on their return to the second tier.
After their disastrous season off the pitch condemned them to relegation on the pitch, Derby County ended their campaign with a 1-0 home defeat to Cardiff City. Jordan Hugill grabbed the only goal of the game 10 minutes after half time with the Bluebirds’ only shot on target of the entire match. Despite their domination throughout and their endless chances in the second half, the Rams could not find a way to break down the Cardiff defence. Without their points deduction, Derby would have finished the season in 17th and would be preparing for another campaign at this level. However, with a takeover seemingly all but agreed, there may be a bright future ahead for Wayne Rooney’s men and the potential for an immediate return to the Championship.