Such a statement as ‘April is sure to be a pivotal month in the Championship promotion picture’ smacks of regurgitating the obvious given its standing as the penultimate twelfth of the calendar before the season’s climax.
But, as fate would have it, the Football League fixture generator has thrown out multiple meetings between the four clubs squabbling over those pair of automatic berths on the boat to the top flight.
Below are the six fixtures we’ve sounded out that will decide the promotion race, currently being contested between Bournemouth, Watford, Middlesbrough and Norwich.
Ipswich v Bournemouth – April 3rd
This Good Friday clash precedes Watford’s tricky trip to Derby, where the Hornets can be expected to plunder the points against Steve McClaren’s reversing Rams.
A Cherries slip up at Portman Road will see them fall off the top and that’s exactly what will happen.
No second-tier side has picked up more points at home than Ipswich, whereas Bournemouth have failed to win four of six on the road.
The reliable Tractor Boys are 39/20 for success.
Watford v Middlesbrough – April 6th
These could well be the top two on Easter Monday, but a Vicarage Road win will put at least three points between them and Boro.
Only once this century have Aitor Karanka’s men prevailed at this venue and three away losses from four spells more misery.
Brighton v Bournemouth – April 10th
Should the above go to plan, victory in this Friday night game could consolidate Bournemouth’s spot in the top two.
Brighton have won three of four pre-Easter home games though and have taken seven points from nine against teams based in the top third; they’ll ensure it doesn’t happen.
Norwich v Middlesbrough – April 17th
Our forecast squandering of spoils from both Boro and Bournemouth will present Norwich with the opportunity to photobomb the promotion picture.
The awful away form of the visitors here will prove of huge assistance for the Canaries, but eight pre-Easter wins from 11 says they won’t need a helping hand.
Watford v Birmingham – April 18th
The Hornets have won six on the spin against those residing in the Championship’s middle third so can capitalise on Boro’s foretold loss at Norwich by beating the humdrum Blues, as they have done on four of their previous five face offs.
Rotherham v Norwich – April 25th
Alex Neil’s outfit can cement their spot on the launch pad for Premier League football by besting woefully inferior Rotherham, who have lost three straight pre-Easter.
The Norfolk side have the highest away-day points tally in the division so far and they’ll finish in the silver-medal spot behind Watford after game 46.