Championship Play-Off latest odds, news and free bets

West Ham United have failed in their attempt to finish first or second this season, with Reading’s meteoric rise up the table and Southampton’s remarkable consistency meaning that Sam Allardyce’s team need to take their chances in the play-offs

It was not a scenario that the supporters envisaged when the season kicked off, although a home defeat against Cardiff in August set the tone for inconsistent form at the Boleyn Ground that would see the Hammers win just 11 games from 23 matches.

Therefore, playing the second leg of their play-off tie against the Bluebirds at home might be far from ideal, although the bookies do make West Ham strong favourites to join the Royals and Saints in the Premier League next term, with odds of 9/5 (Boylesports) available about the Hammers returning to the top flight.

The east London side have been the best away side in the division and that includes a recent 2-0 win at the Cardiff City Stadium, although Malky Mackay’s team might benefit from being the underdogs in this contest.

Cardiff have a rotten recent record in the play-offs, losing to Reading last season in the semi-finals twelve months after a final defeat against Blackpool, although Mackay has steered this team to a Carling Cup final this term and that experience might stand them in good stead.

City are unbeaten in ten games and have claimed three wins from their past four matches, with odds of 4/1 (Blue Square bookmaker) on offer that they make it to the Premier League despite finishing sixth in the Championship.

Perhaps it will be the Tangerines who once again stand in the way of Cardiff when it comes to the play-off final and Blackpool also come into this end-of-season shoot-out off the back of a big unbeaten run, having won and drawn their last seven.

Ian Holloway guided the seaside club to promotion two years ago and they can be backed at 10/3 (William Hill free £25 bet) to be celebrating at Wembley once again, a prospect that can’t be discounted considering the team have a philosophy of attacking football.

However, there is the small matter of getting past Birmingham City, a club that saw Alex McLeish and several key players leave St Andrews in the summer although Chris Hughton has got the team back on a level footing and Premier League football would be the icing on the cake.

The Blues have been playing massive catch-up after their Europa League exploits, although City haven’t tasted defeat in their last nine games and a 2-0 win over Reading on Saturday has set the tone for a potential play-off triumph.

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