When people talk about the lottery of football there is always two things which spring to mind in my head, that is penalty shoot outs and the play-offs. First introduced 1987 to spice up the end of season race for promotion, they have arguably gone on to be one of the greatest hits in English football and give real excitement to all fans, even ones who don't follow those teams.
Many of you last season I am sure were huddled round TVs captivated by the excitement unfold as 16 teams fought it out for four separate promotions. For me I always usually cheer on the underdog, so last seasons League One play-off I was actually cheering for Yeovil to win, sorry Uwe!
We have never had much success in the play-offs as a club. Having featured four times, we have only once made the final in 2000 where we had overcome Millwall before losing 3-2 to Gillingham at the old Wembley. So history here is stacked up against the blue and white army, we have however been making history in the past few years and I think it is time we made some more in the play-offs.
Usually you would always go with the in-form high flying team, which in the case of we four who have qualified that would be Derby County. Steve McClaren talking this week how all the pressure is on us and QPR, I would however disagree. Wigan eight month ago were not expected to really make this charge to the play-offs but we have, and while the side closes in on playing there 61st and 62nd games of the season tired legs will have a massive impact on the outcome. With all that said I am glad it is QPR we face over the two legs.
They concede few and score few, a lot of their games this season ended 1-0, which could be a bonus for us. Charlie Austin is expected to make a return in the game and could prove to be the main goal threat. Yet unlike Derby, who have players all over the pitch who seem to nick goals, QPR have struggled to score consistently apart from Austin. Loan signing Ravel Morrison has chipped in with a few and will be a key player to watch.
Brighton it has to be said are the rank outsiders for this play-off which will work to their advantage. Defiantly the one team I am glad we are not playing, after losing to Crystal Palace last season their players will be out for blood and Derby will have to deal with that. Only Burnley had a tighter defense than Brighton this season, which makes for an interesting match up as the highest goalscorers go up against one of the toughest defenses, will be an interetsing game tonight.
Whatever the outcome will be, for both us and Brighton the importance of the first match and getting a good lead is going to be crucial. I would hope that we can rack up a couple of goals and take a nice cushion down to QPR, so we can play with a solid back line and hit them on the counter, I am sure Brighton are hoping to do the same.
Either way, the fight for the Premier League starts here!