This Sunday sees two of League One’s best sides go head to head with a chance of playing Championship football next season. Both Rotherham United and Shrewsbury Town have proved themselves worthy of to play in the playoffs, but only one can prosper in this lottery. So who will be promoted to the Championship?
Starting with Rotherham, a side that finished 4th in the league and came into the playoffs in good form. They picked up 13 out of possible 18 points in their final few games to clinch a place in the playoffs. This set up a meeting with Scunthorpe United and they overcame the challenge despite falling to a late equaliser in the first leg. They brought The Iron back to The New York Stadium and dispatched them comfortably by winning 2-0.
Their main objective this season was to bounce back at the first time of asking having tasted relegation last season. With Paul Warne still at the helm, they have been superb and killed the demons that could have haunted them following a horrific fall from grace. They are the third highest scoring team in the league and have thoroughly deserved to be near the top.
Shrewsbury will feel that they have not done enough this season despite improving massively as they finished 18th in 2016/17. This season they secured a 3rd place finish but having occupied one of the top two places for 33 weeks of the season they will be annoyed to have missed out on automatic promotion. In the playoffs, they played how they have played all season, tight at the back and able to grab just the one goal as they defeated Charlton twice with 1-0 wins.
It has been a sensational year for the Shrews, and a lot of credit has to go to manager Paul Hurst who has transformed his side from relegation candidates to genuine automatic promotion challengers. There are no real individual talents in the side, but they are an impressive unit who work together as a team. They have the 2nd best defensive record in the league behind champions Wigan, and that could be the difference in the final.
Who will win?
The final is a one-off game, and the form book can sometimes be thrown out of the window in these types of games. Wembley can be a daunting experience as players are thrown into the lion’s den to do battle for everything they want or severe heartbreak. However, Shrewsbury have been to the national stadium before but tasted defeat to Lincoln in this year’s EFL Trophy final. They will want to avoid disappointment once again.
It is expected to be a close game especially with the way that Shrewsbury play their football. Rotherham are more attacking and have scored at least two goals in their past four out of five games but are culpable of leaking goals. Shrewsbury have kept 24 clean sheets in all competitions this season proving how tough they are to break down.
When the two teams met earlier in the season they both won away from home. Shrewsbury stole a 2-1 win at The New York Stadium, but Rotherham grabbed a 1-0 win at New Meadow. So it has set up an intriguing aspect as both teams are level with their head to head this year.
However, this match has all the capabilities of going all the way to penalties and then it is anyone’s game. But if it did not go that far, then I can see Shrewsbury getting themselves into a 1-0 lead and keeping Rotherham at bay until the final whistle.