Two incredibly tight affairs swang in Sunderland's favour after an opening day victory at the Stadium of Light. Lyle Taylor, who had been heavily linked with a move on Wearside for a lot of the summer, opened the scoring from the penalty spot before a second half comeback was completed by a last gasp Lynden Gooch winner (yes, he did do some things at the start of the season, surprising I know). The reverse fixture was one of those rare 1-1 draws as Reece James scored an own goal after setting up Luke O'Nien for the opener in the opening couple of minutes.
Charlton have won seven of their last eight, with six clean sheets during those victories - it's no surprise to see they are the bookies (joint) favourites at 5/2. We would not see them until the final, should we see them at all, which will have everyone talking about 1998 and give Micky Gray the perfect opportunity to bleat on some more.
Sunderland are yet to concede a goal against Doncaster this season, winning both games to nil. Chris Maguire grabbed the winner at the Keepmoat Stadium, whilst SAFC seemed to shake off the Coventry cobwebs by beating them with goals from Lewis Morgan and Charlie Wyke in a very comfortable affair at the SoL. Obviously we then went on to a four game winless run to end the season and finish fifth. Great job Sunderland.
Our win at home started a mini-slump for Doncaster too, who had previously won four on the bounce. But they managed to recover and get the important three points at home to Coventry to seal their play-off spot. In terms of quality, you'd rather play Doncaster than any other and, unsurprisingly, they are the 5/1 outsiders that nobody is talking about as potential winners. But perhaps they are the team to fear most, as they are the only ones who will feel pretty swell about making it to the playoffs. If you fancy a flutter on the finals, you can check out the Top 5 betting sites in the UK to make sure you're getting the odds you want. Just don't bet on Sunderland.
Let's face it, everyone wants Pompey to eff off. Play up Pompey is annoying. The fact they call themselves Pompey is also annoying. Blue is becoming an increasingly annoying colour despite my childhood affection for it, and Kenny Jackett's name is hilariously punnable. Side note I agree, but it's true. Kenny could do with a Barbour. Stop - it was funny.
If we don't go up, I hope they do because I can't bare another League One campaign with them in it. They have managed to beat us twice, once after Glen Loovens was a bit of a pr*ck and the other in the now infamous EFL Trophy final penalty shootout. If that wasn't enough, they earned a 1-1 draw at the SoL, effectively ending our automatic promotion challenge and hoyed a flare at us in the process (it was one 'fan', let's be clear and fair).
And if that wasn't enough, since the turn of the millenium, Sunderland have only managed to beat Portsmouth once. A Kieran Richardson double in January 2008 which was part of a very productive month that helped Roy Keane keep us in the Premier League. That wouldn't be so bad, had we not played Portsmouth 12 times, losing eight of those if you count the final. Now we've got to beat them over two legs. They are joint favourites with Charlton at 5/2.
Portsmouth were the team we wanted to avoid. We wanted someone else to get them, beat them and then we'd all feel much happier. But, to go up, that's not an option. Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise, with Saturday's visitors also licking their wounds after throwing away a golden opportunity to go up automatically.
Dare I say the League One Playoff winners come from this fixture? Yes, I do dare, because at the moment it's hard to see Sunderland coming out on top. But, KTF and all that.