Play-Offs Promise Plenty of Excitement

Andrew BarrySenior Analyst IMay 7, 2008

After the closest ever Coca-Cola Championship race, four teams will battle it out for the lucrative final Premier League place. Hull City, Bristol City, Crystal Palace and Watford.

All four of these sides in December would not have expected the chance to go to New Wembley for the right to be promoted.

Hull City lay in the bottom half after a 4-0 pasting by Southampton but Phil Brown's side only lost three times before May. At one stage the Tigers looked set for automatic promotion but two defeats in April consigned them to the play-offs.

Bristol City in their first season in the second tier remained in the top two all year, Gary Johnson's men looked all set for trips to Man Utd and Chelsea but two wins in eleven games derailed automatic hopes.

Crystal Palace are the real surprise package of the play-offs, they lay in the relegation zone come December and I don't think Neil Warnock's goal was promotion when he took over.

Forget December, Watford were first in February and needed an almighty collapse to avoid an instant return to the Premier League. Cue one win in fifteen attempts which included eight straight draws!

The first legs see both Watford and Palace with home ties and they must make the most of it with Bristol and Hull formidable at home.

Palace have momentum and Watford don't, so expect Neil Warnock and Phil Brown's men to take the initiative ahead of the replays.

Luck will play its part, the reward is a trip to Wembley to attempt to force themselves in with the big boys.

There is simply no room for error.