Coventry v Middlesbrough: Championship playoff semi-final – live | Championship
Coventry (probable 3-5-2): Wilson; McNally, Doyle, McFadzean; Norton-Cuffy, Hamer, Kelly, Eccles, Bidwell; Godden, Gyokeres. Subs: Moore, Panzo, Allen, Wilson-Esbrand, Sheaf, Maguire, Dabo.
Middlesbrough (probable 4-2-3-1): Steffen; Smith, McNair, Lenihan, Giles; Mowatt, Hackney; Jones, Akpom, McGree; Archer. Subs: Roberts, Fry, Barlaser, Dijksteel, Forss, Crooks, Bola.
So both XIs are unchanged from the 1-1 draw at the Riverside on the final day of the regular season but there are a couple of important returns on the Boro bench – forward Marcus Forss, who has missed the last three games, and centre-back Dael Fry, who has been out since March.
Ah the play-offs. It’s really not a stretch to say that in terms of sheer excitement and drama these really are the best fixtures in the British football calendar.
A quick recap of the weekend so far: Things kicked off on Friday night with promotion dreams being broken by 4-0 thumpings north and south of the border: Peterborough’s extraordinary win over 96-point Sheffield Wednesday surely consigning the Owls to another season in League One (save for something even more remarkable happening in the second leg) and Patrick denying Queen’s Park a return to the top flight after 65 years.
On Saturday Sunderland came from behind to beat Luton in their first leg, Hamilton came back from 3-0 down on aggregate to beat Alloa 5-3 in the Scottish Championship and the main event was the madcap National League final at Wembley where Notts County somehow scraped past Chesterfield on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
So expectations are high for this one. Middlesbrough and Coventry finished fourth and fifth respectively in the Championship, but there’s no doubt about who are the form team. Mark Robins’s City side have lost just once since 3 February – a run of one defeat in 17 games that saw only the top two pick up more points. Boro, on the other hand, have someone stuttered of late after at one point looking like threatening the automatic spots. Michael Carrick’s team have won only twice in their last eight games.
It should be a good ‘un. Kick-off is at 12noon BST.