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Football League Championship: Week 45

Written by Jason Dewey for @HollywoodbetsFollow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

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This past weekend saw the last of the three relegation places confirmed as MK Dons went down 4-1 at home to Brentford. They will be joined in League One next season by Charlton and Bolton who have also endured abysmal seasons.
It’s all still to play for at the top of the table, though. Burnley lead the way at the summit of the Championship on points difference from Middlesbrough and Brighton who have all accrued 87 points from their 44 games thus far.

Friday 29 April

Birmingham City 6/1 | Draw 3/1 | Middlesbrough 9/20

The first match of the weekend will see high-flying Middlesbrough travel to England’s second city to take on Birmingham. Three losses and two draws in their last six games has meant that the Blues’ slim chances of claiming a play-off place have all but evaporated. That said, Gary Rowett will still want to see his charges put in a solid performance against the log leaders this Friday.
Middlesbrough have the chance to put massive pressure on both Brighton and Burnley if they win this game on Friday. If they do win this match, they’ll go three points clear at the top of the table with their two closest rivals still play. The team seems to be pulling in the same direction now following a mid-season implosion that threatened their top six status. They’ve bounced back well though, and could take a big step toward winning the league in they claim all three points on Friday evening. Take the away win at 9/20.
Sunday 30 April

Bolton Wanderers 11/2 | Draw 32/10 | Hull City 5/10

This season can’t end soon enough for everyone involved with Bolton Wanderers. The financial mire that they found themselves in this term definitely affected performances on the pitch and a fresh start in League One is probably just the thing they need. They showed great fight last time out against Cardiff, taking the lead in the seventh minute. However, a red card in the 32nd minute for Niall Maher was followed by two second-half strikes from the Welsh outfit which condemned the Trotters to their 25th defeat of the season.
They’ll go up against ta Hull City side who probably feel that they should be up there with the top three. However, a poor run of results over the last few months has seen them slip away from the automatic promotion places. This was perfectly illustrated again this weekend as they threw away a 2-1 lead with just two minutes to play against a very underwhelming Leeds side. The draw all but ended their chances of finishing in the top two as they look to prepare for the play-offs. Hull will win this – add this result to your weekend multiples.

Brentford 21/20 | Draw 51/20 | Fulham 24/10

Brentford have enjoyed a magnificent run of late which has seen them surge up the Championship table over the last month or two. The Bees smashed MK Dons 4-1, condemning the Milton Keynes’ side to relegation. Brentford haven’t lost in April, winning five and drawing one of their last six games and look a good outside bet earning a promotion place next season if they can keep hold of the likes of Ryan Bidwell and Sergi Canos.
Fulham will be glad to see the end of this season as they continue to struggle to get to grips with the demands of the Championship. They also face the prospect of losing their star player, Moussa Dembele to one of the Premier League’s big hitters in the summer. They’ll do well to come away from this game with anything at Griffin Park against one of England’s form sides. Take the home win at generous odds of 21/20.
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Bristol City 27/20 | Draw 23/10 | Huddersfield Town 39/20

This match perfectly encapsulates the glitz and glamour of England’s second tier. The mighty Bristol Rovers going head to head in a titanic clash with Huddersfield town! Jokes aside, neither of these two sides have set the world alight this season with Bristol City flirting with relegation for the first three-quarters of the season. They may well have gone down too, had it not been for atrocious displays from MK Dons, Charlton and Bolton Wanderers this season.
Huddersfield Town have endured a bit of a slump in recent weeks. A solitary win from six games is a bit typical of a side not competing for play-off places without the worries of relegation. They’re simply going through the motions before launching into the 2016/17 season. They did put up a good fight last time out against Hull City, sharing the spoils at home in a 2-2 draw. I can’t separate these two teams, and honestly I’d stay away from this game. But if you absolutely need to have a bet, back the draw at 23/10.

Leeds United 13/20 | Draw 11/4 | Charlton Athletic 4/1

Leeds actually come into this match with a bit of form behind them – when last could we say that of the frenzied mess that is Leeds United?  They’ve won three of their last four games including a solid 2-2 draw away to Hull City. They look comfortable enough in mid-table and should dispatch relegated Charlton with relative ease.
Charlton are in absolute freefall at the moment. The club’s supporters are at war with owners and the side have been relegated to League One after winning promotion last season. They were comprehensively beaten 3-1 at the Valley last time out by and undercooked Brighton side. In fact, the south coasters barely clicked out of second gear and still managed to cruise past the embattled Londoners. Take Leeds to win this at 13/20 – another good bet for your weekend multiples.

Reading 11/10 | Draw 9/4 | Preston North End 5/2

Our next port of call is London, where two more mid-table battlers will go head to head for, well mid-table domination? Reading have been on a dire run of form of late losing four of their last five games. They did manage to grab a point at fellow mid-table heavyweights QPR at the weekend as they stopped halted their four-game losing streak.
Preston also went down this weekend, although losing to Burnley this season is hardly a disgrace. A sixth-minute strike from bad boy, Joey Barton condemned the Lilywhites to their fourteenth defeat of the season.  Although both teams’ results have been poor, they know their way to goal. Both sides to score at 19/20 looks a good bet!

Sheffield Wednesday 1/1 | Draw 24/10 | Cardiff City 26/10

This could well be the game of the weekend simply because of the ramifications the result will have on the race for sixth place. Wednesday – who currently occupy the final play-off place – have faltered of late, drawing their last three games. They were unlucky to concede a late equaliser against Derby on Saturday as Darren Bent found the back of the net late on following Barry Bannan’s 69th-minute strike.
Cardiff haven’t really capitalised on Wednesday’s dip in form, drawing one, losing one and winning one in their last three games. A win for the Welsh side will see them move to within a point of Carlos Carvalhal’s men. I most certainly don’t want to be responsible for picking a winner here, take both teams to score at 17/20.

Nottingham Forest 13/10 | Draw 9/4 | Wolverhampton 2/1

Nottingham Forest finally put an end to their eight-game losing streak by squeaking past Fulham two weeks ago. They’ve actually been one of the worst sides in the league this season. Forest have gone from pushing for a play-off place to narrowly avoiding a relegation scrap in the space of a few months. That form saw Dougie Freedman unceremoniously dumped with Paul Williams taking the hot seat as a caretaker manager. He’s only managed one win in eight attempts though, and will be looking to finish strong before the board brings in a new boss.
Wolves have also been disappointing this season and are no more value than their mid-table finish suggests. They went up against Rotherham – who have become my one of my favourite teams this season – but could only manage a 0-0 draw as the Millers’ miraculous run of form continued. Neither of these sides have been good of late – and their mediocrity could just cancel one another out. Take the draw at 9/4.

Ipswich Town 13/20 | Draw 28/10 | MK Dons 4/1

My heart breaks every time I see Ipswich Town drop points this season – the Premier League could definitely do with a bit more of Mick McCarthy antics next season. That said, the side have punched well above their weight this season, only faltering in the last few weeks where they’ve drawn five and lost one of their last six matches.
They go up against an MK Dons side that have been relegated in their first season back in the Championship. Let’s face it, though, it was always going to happen. They have neither the quality of the budget to compete with even the smaller teams in the division and will do well to remain competitive in League One next season. They were smashed 4-1 by Brentford last time out, condemning the Dons to their 23rd defeat of the season. Add an Ipswich Town win to your weekend multiples at 13/20.

Rotherham 14/10 | Draw 22/10 | Blackburn 19/10

Rotherham completed a truly miraculous escape from relegation when they drew with Wolves last time out. Neil Warnock has performed absolute miracles at the club who looked dead and buried until they went on a defeat the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough, Derby and Ipswich Town as they rocketed out of the relegation zone.
Blackburn have endured another disappointing season. They’ve managed to sell their two best players in Rudy Gestede and Jordan Rhodes without really reinvesting the money in quality replacements. If that money isn’t put to use come the off-season, the Lancashire club could be become involved in a relegation scrap next season. Rovers have failed to win in their last nine games. Not backing Rotherham here would be silly – get on at 14/10!
Monday 2 May

Brighton 6/10 | Draw 29/10 | Derby 9/2

Following a bit of a mid-season slump, Brighton and Hove Albion have come roaring back into automatic promotion contention in spectacular style. They’re playing some exhilarating football at the minute and they’re my favourites to win the League at the moment. In the five matches they’ve played in April, they’ve won five and drawn one – against Burnley – scoring 18 goals while only conceding five.
They won’t have it all their way if Derby Country have anything to do with it. The Rams have all but secured a spot in the play-offs this season following an impressive run of late season form. They’ve managed four wins and a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United in their last five games and will look to take this momentum with them into the play-offs. A win against Brighton will give them a massive confidence boost, although I just don’t see it happening. Take Brighton to win at 6/10.

Burnley 3/10 | Draw 17/4 | QPR 19/2

Burnley will be the last of the top three clubs to play this weekend, something that could either work for or against them when they host QPR. If Brighton and Boro drop points, they’ll be fairly relaxed. However, if both of their title rivals win, there will be massive pressure on the Clarets to win this match. That being said, they’ve handled themselves confidently at the summit of the league over the last few weeks and never really look like dropping points, especially at home against mid-table riff-raff like QPR.
I don’t think that the QPR boys will be looking forward to this match too much. They’ve struggled for form of late and have looked shaky at the back against some of the division’s more mediocre sides. This weekend will see them come against Championship Player of the Year, Andre Gray as well as one of the league’s best midfielders in Joey Barton. The two have formed a deadly partnership this season, slicing opposition teams apart at will. I think Burnley will win this one, however, QPR are not as bad as their 19/2 price sounds. There will definitely be pressure on the Clarets heading into this game, especially if Boro and Brighton win earlier in the week. Throw a cheeky tenner on QPR at this price and add the Burnley win to a few of your multiples.
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