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Reading FC Promotion Watch - Matchday 41/46

So just six games remaining this season starting with the first set of fixtures over the Easter Weekend. The top three all have staggered kick-off times, with Reading playing early Friday afternoon, followed by West Ham later that day and then Southampton on Saturday.

So here's how this first set of games could change the promotion landscape and the mathematical permutations going forward.

At the time of writing here's how the top 10 line up

                 PLD    PTS   GD  GS (MAX PTS)
1.Southampton 40 78 +34 76 96
2.Reading 40 76 +24 60 94
3.West Ham 40 72 +21 63 90
4.Birmingham 40 66 +23 84
5.Blackpool 40 63 +13 81
6.Brighton 40 63 +8 81
7.Middlesbrough 40 61 +7 79
8.Cardiff 40 61 +7 79
9.Hull 40 58 +2 76
10.Leeds 40 57 +1 75

The Maths


By beating West Ham, Reading have already ensured they've made it 10 straight seasons of finishing 10th or higher in the Championship. Brian McDermott's side can finish no lower than ninth and could wrap up a play-off spot if they beat Leeds while Middlesbrough vs Cardiff ends in a draw and Hull fail to win away at Millwall.

Automatic Promotion

With six games left on the slate, West Ham can now finish on a maximum of 90 points, Reading on 94 and Southampton on 96.

That means Reading need to win five from their last six games to ensure promotion. Four wins and two draws would be good enough to seal at least second if Reading can preserve their superior goal difference, with Reading currently 3 to the good.

Reading are also in charge of their own destiny with regard to winning the Championship as due to the fact they play Southampton at St Mary's a week on Friday. By winning that and their other five games, Reading would be confirmed as Champions. Should Reading draw that game at St Mary's then they'd need to win the other five and hope Southampton lose one or draw three times to win the title, unless there's a massive swing in goal difference in Reading's favour.

The Bookies

Southampton remain the bookies favourite to go up with odds of 1/10. Reading are rated a 1/4 shot to go up while West Ham have dropped to 6/5 to make it up one way or the other.

The Fixtures

With the above in mind, let's look at who each of the top 3 have left to play, with their league positions in brackets. Home games are in bold

                 Southampton          Reading             West Ham
Friday/Saturday Portsmouth (23) Leeds (10) Barnsley (18)
Monday/Tuesday C Palace (15) Brighton (6) Birmingham (4)
April 13/14 Reading (2) Southampton (1) Brighton (6)
April 17 Peterborough (17) Forest (19) Bristol C (22)
April 21 Middlesbrough (7) C Palace (15) Leicester (12)
April 28 Coventry (21) Birmingham (4) Hull (9)

Reading still have the hardest of the run-ins, with three trips to sides inside the top six and the average position of their opponents ninth, with West Ham's opponents an average of 12th and Saints 14th.

This Friday's live Sky Game against Leeds see's Neil Warnock's side coming to the Madejski Stadium 6 points adrift of the play-offs so they'll still feel they have an outside chance if they can win all six of their remaining games.  They are in ok form, with 8 points from a possible 18 but have been impressive on the road with just one defeat in their last 6 games away from Elland Road.

Also on Friday, West Ham travel to 18th placed Barnsley who are nine points clear of the relegation zone and therefore pretty much safe baring some ridiculous sets of results. The Tykes have looked pretty poor after Christmas and have just one win in their last six Championship games. At Oakwell they've not been quite as bad, with three wins and a draw in the last six. However, they've lost at home to Reading, Southampton, Middlesbrough and Birmingham this season, conceding 11 goals and scoring just once, so I wouldn't hold out too much hope of them plucking out a result on Friday.

Then on Saturday Southampton host local rivals Portsmouth at St Mary's. Pompy's problems are well documented and they've lost a host of players since entering administration and being docked 10 points. They go into Saturday's match five points adrift of safety and their last outing saw them smashed 5-1 at home by Burnley. They also haven't won away from home since January but lets hope that Pompy can rouse themselves for what could be the last ever South Coast derby.

Predictions For Match 41

Reading 2-1 Leeds

I think Reading will edge a tense game 2-1. The jig is just about up for Leeds and with a full house and buoyed by Saturday's win, we'll have enough to go 7 points clear.

Barnsley 1-3 West Ham

Hard to see anything but an away win from this fixture. Barnsley looked dreadful at home to Reading a couple of weeks ago and despite their struggles at Upton Park, West Ham have been banging in the goals on the road and should win easily.

Southampton 3-0 Portsmouth

Pompy probably owe us a result here after the way the 2008 season ended but I'm sad to say that I can't see it happening. Even with Lambert struggling for fitness Billy Sharp and Co should have more than enough to get all three points.

So how do you see this weekend's games going? send us a tweet to @thetilehurstend or leave your comments below.

If you'd like to find out how Southampton and West Ham fans are viewing this whole run-in lark, I recommend checking out George Weah's Cousin for Southampton and We Love You West Ham or The Game's Gone Crazy for the Hammers.