Bolton missed out on a great opportunity to secure their play off place yesterday. A goal to the good against partying Cardiff, they should have seen out the game and banked their place. But they didn't, so now all bets are off as we go down to 4 cup finals before the play offs themselves start.
Points in the bank are crucial at this stage, but so are current form and the fixture list. Bolton must still be favourites to make it, with a home game against Ince managed Blackpool: Bolton are in the best form of the contenders and apart from the little matter of personal pride, Blackpool have nothing to play for. The trouble is, this is a Lancashire derby and so the Blackpool fans and boys will not be wearing their Kiss Me Quick hats quite yet. I still mark this one down for a Bolton win, meaning there are three clubs chasing two places.
For Leicester to get through to the play off lottery, therefore, they need to win at Forest and pray that Palace don't pick up one point from two games. Let's start with Palace.
The Eagles have the talons of sparrows at the moment and are not likely to tear any opposition apart. The first of their two games is at Millwall, who must get a result to ward off relegation threats. The Lions are toothless themselves and are in a spiral of poor form, but there will be a menacing atmosphere in the stadium and Olly Gummage seems to have lost the plot, and the respect of his players with it. Bet on a red card for Palace and a Millwall win is my advice. Then it is a home game against Posh. Take out the first 7 games of the season and Peterborough would be challenging for the play offs, not struggling to avoid the drop. They need at least a point from the game and I take them to win the match.
Which means that if Leicester win at Forest, because of their superior goal difference, they will finish sixth. That is a huge if, of course, given recent results, but anything can happen in a derby game and Forest will have to go all out for a victory. Imagine how their players will feel if news comes through that Bolton have taken the lead; Leicester players will shrug and think, "So what?"; the guts of Forest players will melt. It's a recipe for a Leicester win!
I wonder what the combined odds are for Palace to lose at Millwall and against Peterborough, Leicester to win at Forest and Bolton to beat Blackpool? You can only get 6-1 for Leicester to finish in the top six which is ridiculous given the results that have to go in their favour for that to happen. However a fourfold on Bolton and Leicester to win, and Palace to lose both games might be tempting.
Anyway, despite appalling form, Pearson's mangy Foxes could yet slip into the play off chicken coop. And then who knows what might happen? If Hull end up missing out on automatic promotion, and I expect that to happen too, then they will go in to the knock out competition utterly deflated. The Seagulls won't fly into the Prem. Bolton would be my favourites, but Leicester would be on an absolute high if they secured their place with a win at Forest; so don't rule them out yet!