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Championship final day: Stevens on target as Sheffield United seal playoff spot

Luton also made the playoffs, thanks to a bizarre winning goal against Reading.

Enda Stevens celebrates his goal.
Enda Stevens celebrates his goal.
Image: PA

THERE WAS LITTLE final-day drama in the Championship, with Sheffield United and Luton Town booking their places in the play-offs. 

Both sides were the incumbents at the start of play and could only be caught by Middlesbrough and Millwall, but both took control of their own destines by winning their games against Fulham and Reading respectively. Neither ‘Boro and Millwall won their games, meanwhile, robbing the final day of a dramatic crescendo. 

The play-offs were all left to be decided: Fulham and Bournemouth had already sewn up the automatic promotion places while Peterborough, Derby and Barnsley had already been relegated going into the final day. 

Sheffield United profited from the fact Fulham had nothing left to play for, hammering the newly-minted champions 4-0 at Bramall Lane. Irish international Enda Stevens rounded out the scoring, with John Egan starting and Conor Hourihane introduced from the bench. 

Fulham secured the title with a 7-0 hammering of Luton Town in midweek, but Nathan Jones’ side bounced back to eke out a 1-0 win at home to Reading, the game secured with a baffling Harry Cornick goal in first-half stoppage time. 

In the end Luton could have afforded to lose the game, with Middlesbrough’s hopes crashing with a miserable 4-1 defeat away to Preston North End. ‘Boro were 2-0 down at half-time with Irish international Alan Browne opening the scoring. Chris Wilder’s side rallied with a Marcus Tavernier goal three minutes after the break, but their dreams died with a brace from Emil Riis, the second of which was a penalty, an incident for which Paddy McNair was sent off. Aaron Connolly was introduced as a second-half substitute for ‘Boro. 

Bournemouth finished off Millwall’s playoff hopes, winning 1-0 at home to Gary Rowett’s side. Irish trio Mark Travers, Robbie Brady and Gavin Kilkenny all started for the promoted side. 

Luton will face Huddersfield in the play-off semi-finals, with the latter beating Bristol City, who had Irish international goalkeeper Max O’Leary on the bench. Callum O’Dowda was uninvolved ahead of an expected exit. 

Nottingham Forest, meanwhile, will face Sheffield United, as they rounded out the season with a 1-1 draw away to Hull City. Sean McLoughlin played the full game for Hull. 

Former Drogheda United defender James Brown made his full Championship debut for Blackburn in their 2-1 win against Birmingham. 

Fresh from signing for the club permanently, Jayson Molumby won a penalty as West Brom hammered relegated Barnsley 4-0. Dara O’Shea played the full game for Steve Bruce’s side, with Callum Robinson playing the final 20 minutes off the bench. 

Another of the relegated sides, Wayne Rooney’s Derby, ended their resolute but nonetheless torrid season with a 1-0 loss to Cardiff. Jason Knight played the full game for Derby, with a couple of Irish U21 internationals appearing for either side in the form of Eiran Cashin and Joel Bagan. Without their 21-point deduction, Derby would have finished 17th.

One relegated side did salvage some final-day pride, with Irish international Sammie Szmodics scoring twice for Peterborough in a 5-0 battering of Blackpool. Former Irish international Richard Keogh started for Blackpool but was withdrawn after 35 minutes with injury, while Irish-eligible CJ Hamilton played the full game. 

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Finally, Stoke and Coventry drew 1-1, while Michael Obafemi, Cyrus Christie and Ryan Manning all played in Swansea’s 1-0 loss at home to QPR. 

Championship results 

  • Bournemouth 1-0 Millwall 
  • Birmingham 1-2 Blackburn
  • Derby 0-1 Cardiff 
  • Huddersfield 2-0 Bristol City 
  • Hull 1-1 Nottingham Forest 
  • Luton 1-0 Reading 
  • Peterborough 5-0 Blackpool 
  • Preston 4-1 Middlesbrough 
  • Sheffield United 4-0 Fulham 
  • Stoke 1-1 Coventry 
  • Swansea 0-1 QPR 
  • West Brom 4-0 Barnsley 

2021/22 Championship season 

Champions: Fulham 

Promoted: Bournemouth 

Play-off fixtures: Huddersfield vs Luton Town; Nottingham Forest vs Sheffield United

Relegated: Peterborough, Derby County, Barnsley 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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