Cardiff to hold off Cottagers’ charge


Fulham look set to have to settle for a play-off spot for the second campaign in a row as Cardiff City can clinch second place in the Championship by beating Reading on Sunday.

The Cottagers had been tipped to go up via the play-offs last term only to be surprisingly beaten by Reading and appeared to have suffered a hangover when they entered 2018 in mid-table.

An incredible run of 18 victories and five draws in their last 23 games looks set to be not quite enough to secure an automatic promotion spot, although they are 5/7 to finish the regular season in style by beating Birmingham City at St Andrew’s.

Cardiff have wobbled recently, losing three of their last six matches, but appear to have just enough left in the tank to see off Fulham’s late challenge.

It is an incredible achievement by Neil Warnock as the Bluebirds were expected to be a mid-table team at best this season.

They can keep a clean sheet against Reading at odds of 20/23, with a 2-0 victory for Warnock’s side available at 11/2.

Derby County have been very inconsistent recently but should limp into the play-offs by edging to victory against a Barnsley team that desperately need to take something back to South Yorkshire as they attempt to stay in the Championship.

A nervy 1-0 win for the Rams can be backed at 8/1 and such a result may be enough to send the Tykes down.

Bolton Wanderers start the day one point below Barnsley after suffering a disastrous 2-0 loss at Burton Albion last weekend.

Phil Parkinson’s team have only taken one point from their last seven fixtures but can give themselves a chance of staying up by getting the better of a Nottingham Forest side that have nothing to play for. A Bolton win by a one-goal margin is available at 47/20.

If Derby slip up against Barnsley, that could give Preston the opportunity to sneak into the play-offs – if they can beat Burton.

The Brewers appeared doomed less than a month ago but three successive victories have given them hope of defying the odds once again and remaining in the Championship, an incredible feat considering their resources.

However, the fact that Preston can still finish in the top six could conspire against Nigel Clough’s team with a victory from behind for North End available at 11/2.

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