They won 1-0 with a goal from loan striker Ade Akinbiyi but in the end it wasn’t required as Brighton could only grab a point in a 2-2 draw at Blundell Park.
It has been an incredible turn around at the Britannia Stadium in the last two months. They looked a dreadful side when we beat them on the 1st day of March but since have lost just two of twelve games and been one of the form sides in the division.
The rest of the games were totally meaningless in terms of promotion and relegation although there was a personal success for Svetoslav Todorov. As Portsmouth signed off in style with a 5-0 win at Bradford his hat-trick means he ended the season as the division’s leading scorer after David Johnson had led from August. Johnno has found the net only six times since the New Year and finally saw his top place go.
But what about David Connolly, signed by Franchise from Wimbledon last summer. He missed the first period of the season but with his two goals against the Clarets yesterday ended the season with a total of 24 league goals from only 28 appearances.
Without the prolific pair of Connolly and Neil Shipperley Franchise would have been a struggling side and could clearly have been relegation candidates. Their goals though have seen them finish the season in the top half.
Only five players have reached 20 league goals and besides two from Franchise there were also the two from Forest, Johnson and Marlon Harewood. I am far from convinced that Forest are anything better than an average First Division side and would also struggle without the goals of their front two.
The most boring and miserable man in the First Division just has to be Preston boss Craig Brown, we christened him Mr. Weary recently. But his constant moaning about decisions going against his side also makes him the top whinger. From now on we will refer to him as The Weary Whinger.
Yesterday was no exception as they were beaten 2-0 at Delia’s place. He thought Preston were the better side, doesn’t he always, and said after the game, "We should have had two penalties when there was a definite handball and Cresswell was hauled down in the box, but that is the way our luck has gone this season."
None of the four play off candidates warmed up with a win. Reading were beaten in that important game whilst Sheffield United went down 2-0 at Watford. The other two both drew, Forest 2-2 at Rotherham and Wolves 1-1 at home to promoted Leicester.
So there will be no Portsmouth, Leicester, Brighton, Sheffield Wednesday and Grimsby next season but we welcome (if welcome is the best choice of word) West Brom, Sunderland, Wigan and Crewe.
The remaining places will be determined in the next few weeks as one of Bolton and West Ham will be relegated with that being followed by the play offs.
Leading Goalscorers (League Only)
26: Svetoslav Todorov (Portsmouth)
25: David Johnson (Nottm. Forest)
24: David Connolly (Franchise)
20: Marlon Harewood (Nottm. Forest)
20: Neil Shipperley (Franchise)
19: Kenny Miller (Wolves)
17: Paul Dickov (Leicester)
16: Michael Brown (Sheffield United)
16: Richard Cresswell (Preston)
16: Nicky Forster (Reading)
16: Gareth Taylor (Burnley)
15: Pablo Counago (Ipswich)
15: Andy Gray (Bradford)
15: Junior (Walsall)
15: Alan Lee (Rotherham)
14: Steve Kabba (Sheffield United inc. 1 for Palace & 6 for Grimsby)
14: Bobby Zamora (Brighton)
13: Robbie Blake (Burnley)
13: Darren Byfield (Rotherham)
13: Brian Deane (Leicester)
13: Paul McVeigh (Norwich)
13: Paul Shaw (Gillingham)
12: Darren Bent (Ipswich)
12: Nathan Blake (Wolves)
12: Neil Harris (Millwall)
12: Paul Merson (Portsmouth)
4: Darren Byfield (Rotherham) v Millwall (a) 10th August
4: David Connolly (Franchise) v Bradford (a) 9th November
4: Marlon Harewood (Nottm. Forest) v Stoke (h) 22nd February
4: Michael Chopra (Watford) v Burnley (a) 5th April
3: Marlon Harewood (Nottm. Forest) v Gillingham (h) 18th September
3: David Johnson (Nottm. Forest) v Grimsby (a) 21st September
3: Carl Asaba (Sheffield United) v Brighton (a) 19th October
3: Nicky Forster (Reading) v Ipswich (h) 19th October
3: Andy Johnson (Crystal Palace) v Brighton (h) 26th October
3: Nathan Blake (Wolves) v Gillingham (a) 29th October
3: Andy Johnson (Crystal Palace) v Walsall (a) 29th October
3: David Connolly (Franchise) v Norwich (h) 2nd November
3: Paul Dickov (Leicester) v Franchise (h) 22nd February
3: Kenny Miller (Wolves) v Crystal Palace (h) 1st March
3: Gareth Taylor (Burnley) v Watford (h) 5th April
3: Nicky Forster (Reading) v Preston (h) 15th April
3: Junior (Walsall) v Derby (h) 26th April
3: Svetoslav Todorov (Portsmouth) v Bradford (a) 4th May
This is a difficult one and we will use the official attendances released by each club for each game to determine the averages.
Some clubs use the actual attendance whilst others use the paid attendance (including non-attenders).
Burnley however don’t really know what to do. We started the season with the lower figure, switched to the higher figure before going back to the lower figure. And if that is not enough we made a final change back to the higher figure before the end of the season.
For the purpose of these figures we have had no option but to use Burnley’s up and down figures and just hope that someone makes a decision to stick with one or the other next season.
Preston North End
Brighton and Hove Albion
And some final stats for the season
Most Goals Scored
Least Goals Scored
Most Goals Conceded
Least Goals Conceded
Total Home Wins
Total Away Wins
Total Home Goals
Total Away Goals
Most Penalties Scored
Graham Alexander (Preston)
Derby County v Reading
Franchise v Rotherham United