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Two matches and too many possible outcomes: breaking down the end of the season

Charlie Crowhurst

Bolton Wanderers occupy the sixth and final play-off place. They sit a point above seventh-place Leicester City, two above Nottingham Forest, one behind Crystal Palace, and three behind Brighton & Hove Albion. Each of those four teams have just two matches left to play except for Palace (with three). The Eagles take on Millwall next Tuesday.

In order to lock down their playoff place, Bolton Wanderers have to do just one thing: win. Six points from the final two games would ensure a chance at promotion no matter what the other results are. However, those two wins are easier said than done. The Trotters will travel to face league champions Cardiff City before finishing the campaign at home against Blackpool.

Cardiff City have nothing to play for. They have secured promotion and the title. For them, the final matches are an opportunity to add six points to their 85-point total.

Blackpool sit in the lower half of mid-table in 16th place. They are four points clear of the drop zone and while the fans are breathing easy in that regard, they are not mathematically safe. If there are no drastic changes at the bottom of the table this weekend, Blackpool will have confirmed another season in the Championship and will have nothing to play for on the final day.

What if Bolton stumble along the way? What if there is a draw or loss at Cardiff city? What does that mean in terms of play-off hopes?

Four points will put Bolton Wanderers on 70 for the season and three will (obviously) put them on 69. At the seventy point mark, anything short of Leicester City winning out will keep Bolton in the play-offs. Six points for the Foxes puts them a point clear of Bolton should the Trotters take four. Even if Nottingham Forest win out (given that the margins aren't huge), Bolton will remain above them on goal difference.

Still, it will not be an easy road for Leicester City. Their final two matches consist of a Friday night TV game against Watford before finishing away to Nottingham Forest. Watford still have all to play for as they push for automatic promotion rather than a play-off spot. That final match of the season is a big one though. No matter what the outcome, one of Bolton's rivals will drop points. In that case, a draw is the best result for Bolton with a Nottingham Forest win a distant second.

Above Bolton sit Crystal Palace. Unlike the other four teams fighting for three playoff spots, they have a game in hand. Palace will travel to Ewood park to take on Blackburn before returning to London for a Lions clash. During Millwall's FA Cup run, their derby match against the Eagles was postponed. Millwall are very much mid-table but they are always up for London derby, especially ones at the Den. Earlier in the season, the two sides drew 2-2 at Selhurst Park.

The final two matches of the season will not be easy for Bolton Wanderers. Get two wins and the playoffs are guaranteed. Anything less and it will be a very nervy affair. It may fall out of the Trotters' hands but if it does, there is still plenty of hope. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

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