Playoff Final weekend

EFL Playoff Finals Preview

Wembley Way. Photo: PA Images

The playoffs, for a football fan can either create the most fond and ecstatic memories or cause the most gut-wrenching moments following your team. 

There is no in-between. 

Some of the most dramatic and unbelievable games football has ever created have occurred in the playoffs, and this season was no different. 

Starting with the Championship, the four teams who made it to the playoff semi-finals were Luton, Middlesborough, Coventry and Sunderland.  

A lot of people tipped the two north east teams to make it to the final, especially after both sides picked up positive results in the first leg.  

However, in typical playoff fashion, that is not what happened. 

Luton welcomed Sunderland to Kenilworth Road in the second leg, chasing a one goal deficit. Of course, most people were expecting Sunderland to hold onto their lead and head for the Wembley arch.  

Yet, excellently Luton overturned the result and won 2-0, putting themselves within one game of reaching the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history.  

It would be surreal to see Premier League football be played at Kenilworth Road! 

Kenilworth Road. Photo: News Images Ground View of Luton Town FC Stock Photo – Alamy

The other semi-final saw Middlesbrough play Coventry. Boro travelled to the South Midlands in the first leg in a game which finished goalless.  

Again, people were excepting Boro to make the final as they had the home advantage in the second leg, but of course, that was not in the script.  

Coventry came out deserved 1-0 winners sending themselves to the Championship playoff final, only five years after playing League Two football.  

Both teams were competing in League Two just five years ago, and now they face off against each other in the ‘most expensive game in football’, for a place in the most prestigious league in the world. Kick-off is at 4:45pm on Saturday 27th May.  

League One was full of giant clubs this year, and four of the biggest, managed to make it to the playoffs.  

The 4th vs 5th clash saw Bolton have the home advantage as they faced Barnsley. The first leg was a closely contested game and ended up as a 1-1 draw.  

But the second leg saw Barnsley have the home crowd on their side, which soon saw them prevail as they came out 1-0 victors sending them to Wembley as they look to return to the Championship at the first time of asking. 

The other semi-final was drastically different.  

Peterborough hosted Sheffield Wednesday in the first leg and as the Owls finished 19 points above their opponents in the regular season, no one could have predicted what happened.  

Incredibly, Peterborough pulled off a shocking, but dominant 4-0 victory giving Sheffield Wednesday a massive mountain to climb in the second leg.  

Everyone wrote them off as it seemed too big of a mountain to climb. Yet somehow the Owls pulled off a football miracle.  

They returned the favour and won 4-0 sending the game to extra time. Inevitably, such an incredible contest was written to go to penalties, and that it did.  

The Owls completed one of the greatest comebacks you’re ever likely to see defeating the Posh on penalties, catapulting themselves into the final.  

The final is played at 3pm on Monday 29th May, and the Owls will be packing out their end of Wembley yet again. 

Sheffield Wednesday fans at Wembley. Photo: Graham Hogg The Sheffield Wednesday supporters’ flag © Graham Hogg cc-by-sa/2.0 :: Geograph Britain and Ireland

The League Two playoffs also decided to provide incredible entertainment.  

Salford hosted Stockport in the first leg of their semi-final and came out 1-0 winners.  

The second leg saw Stockport chase a 1-0 deficit which they managed to achieve in normal time. With the score at 1-1 the game went to extra time where Salford regained their lead.  

With Stockport looking down and out, suddenly they rose again, late in extra time to level the scores and send the game to penalties.  

Stockport went on to win the penalty shootout thanks to some goalkeeping heroics from en Hinchliffe meaning they are one game away from back-to-back promotions.  

Underdogs Carlisle played against favourites Bradford, and after Bradford won the first leg 1-0, it looked all but certain they would be heading for Wembley.  

But another incredible performance from the team chasing the game saw it head to extra time.  

Carlisle went ahead, but shortly after Bradford equalised making it 2-2. It was heading for another penalty shootout before Carlisle dramatically scored a third, late into extra time to seal their place in the final. The game will be played at 1:30pm on Sunday 28th May. 

Each one of these teams will be walking down the famous Wembley Way, in hope that their beloved club can elevate themselves to another level.