We love some playoff final drama here at Paddy Power. In the last few years it’s mainly come from League One with two penalty shootouts in the last couple of seasons, alongside a few worldies (copyright Paul Merson) and a Jermaine Beckford hat trick. Yes, you heard that correct. Jermaine Beckford has three goals at Wembley.
His Preston side are now comfortable in the Championship and Barnsley and Millwall collide on Sunday to join them in next years second tier.
Barnsley got into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth in 6th place only qualifying by virtue of four goals. But once they got there they crushed Walsall 6-1 on aggregate. They’re unbeaten in their last nine matches, are the fourth highest scorers in League One and are on fire. It’s a far cry from the 14th of November.
On that day, Barnsley sat 23rd in League One having lost eight games on the trot. They would drop to the bottom of the league the following month. Sam Winnall and captain Conor Hourihane found their form and their shooting boots to fire Paul Heckington’s team to Wembley. In beating Walsall they made a little bit of playoff history as for the first time no 3rd placed team made the final in any of the three divisions.
They’ve won one and lost one playoff final before and have already been at Wembley this year for the JPT final.
Like their opponents, Millwall have won and lost a playoff final at this level and are the slight outsiders for the match, despite beating Bradford quite easily in their semi final. Lee Gregory and Steve Morison combined well and tore the Bantams apart, sending Millwall back to the giant arch where their record isn’t sensational – their last four visits to Wembley has seen three defeats.
Their record in the league this year was fantastic, losing just three times in 2016 to storm their way to fourth place. Having seen Burnley do it in the Championship, the Lions gaffer Neil Harris will hope to lead his side straight back up after relegation last season. Almost 60% of their matches saw over 2.5 goals but when they score first, they tend to win.
Something which will help them on Sunday if history is anything to go by.
- Of the 26 third tier playoffs the team scoring fist has gone onto win 14 times
- Barnsley did the double over Millwall in the league and have won five of the last six meetings
- Millwall’s 73 goals in the league was only better by champions Wigan
- Both Harris and Paul Heckingbottom have made appearances at Wembley as players
Of the three playoff finals this is the trickiest to call because they are both in irresistible form. Over 2.5 goals is a banker at. But looking around the odds there’s one bet that sticks out. When you’re in a massive final and the whole
world of Yorkshire is watching, you need a leader to step up. Conor Hourihane has grabbed some key goals this season for the Tykes. Him to score and Barnsley to win in 90 minutes is.
For Millwall, the best bet is for Lee Gregory to open the scoring at.