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Championship Promotion Watch: March 14-19

OK, so things are getting a little bit more nervy for Reading.

BOLTON V READING

(1) Newcastle - 13 Points Ahead - 9 Games Left

Results last week: Reading 0-0 Newcastle, Newcastle 1-3 Fulham

Promotion Odds: This Week: 1/33 - Last Week: 1/50

It was down to earth for Rafa Benitez and Newcastle who went from winning at first and third, to earning just a single point from games with Reading and Fulham. Even so, they've done the hard work and the bookies are far from nervous, with a bet of £100 only netting you about £3 profit.

Games This Week: SAT: Birmingham (17th) (A)

Birmingham shouldn't provide too tough an opponent but then these seem to be the games that Newcastle slip up in.

*****

(2) Brighton - 13 Points Ahead - 9 Games Left

Results last week: Rotherham 0-2 Brighton, Brighton 3-0 Derby

Promotion Odds: This Week: 1/9 - Last Week: 1/5

Chris Hughton couldn't have asked for a much better response from his squad after a tricky period, as they earned six points from six, scored five and didn't concede a goal. Hughton's team have so far overcome the loss of defender Shane Duffy to hold off charging Huddersfield

Games This Week: SAT: Leeds (4th) (A)

Let's face it, any shred of automatic hopes are dead for Reading so from here on in we want the top two winning just about every game, especially this one.

*****

(3) Huddersfield - 7 Points Ahead - 10 Games Left

Result last week: Huddersfield 1-0 Aston Villa, Brentford 0-1 Huddersfield

Current Promotion Odds: This Week 5/4 - Last Week: 7/4

Huddersfield refuse to give in and drop out of the automatic promotion hunt, but will they end up as Brighton did last season? Two gritty 1-0 wins have kept them six points behind the top two but they do have a game in hand.

Games This Week: FRI: Bristol City (21st) (A)

City are no mugs but Huddersfield seem to be capable of brushing off all but the very best, in fact you have to go back to November 19th at Cardiff to find the last time David Wagner's side failed to get at least a point away from home against a team outside the top six.

*****

(4) Leeds - 2 Points Ahead - 9 Games Left

Result Last Week: Fulham 1-1 Leeds, Leeds 0-0 QPR,

Current Promotion Odds: This Week: 4/1 - Last Week: 3/1

While you might look at Reading's results lately and think we're collapsing, as we'll see it's not been a heck of a lot better for those either side of us, including Leeds. They conceded a last minute equaliser at Fulham before drawing a blank against QPR at home.

Games This Week: SAT: Brighton (2nd) (H)

And things get no easier for Garry Monk's team as they welcome Brighton to Elland Road live on Sky this Saturday afternoon. A Reading win at Sheffield Wednesday coupled with a Leeds defeat would see us end the weekend in fourth spot.

*****

(5) Reading - 64 Points - 9 Games Left

Result Last Week: Reading 0-0 Newcastle, Preston 3-0 Reading

Current Promotion Odds: This Week: 9/1 - Last Week: 7/1

You can now get a generous 9/1 on Reading to be playing Premier League football next season and while you might look at Saturday's result and scoff that 99/1 seems more appropriate, we're still very much undervalued in my book. Consider that 73 points usually gets you in the top six and that 78 is the most that's ever been needed and getting 9-14 points shouldn't be that difficult.

Games This Week: FRI: Sheffield Weds (6th) (A)

Sadly our run-in remains tricky for the next few weeks, starting with Sheffield Wednesday on Friday. Yet as you'll read, Wednesday themselves are far from in dominant form so we shouldn't be totally writing this one off just yet.

*****

(6) Sheffield Wednesday - 2 Points Behind - 9 Games Left

Result Last Week: Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Burton, Aston Villa 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Current Promotion Odds: This Week: 9/2 - Last Week: 7/2

Yup, that's two very sloppy results from a strong Sheffield Wednesday team who should know how to get the job done after last season's play-off run. A defeat to an improving Villa team is no disgrace but failing to get the job done at home to Burton is a big blow.

Games This Week: FRI: Reading (5th) (H)

Yup, this one is a biggie. After this it doesn't get a lot easier with back-to-back Yorkshire derbies away at Barnsley and Rotherham, before Newcastle go to Hillsborough on April 8th.

*****

The Chasing Pack

(7) Fulham - 4 Points Behind - 10 Games Left

Points Last Week: 4/6 - Current Promotion Odds: 3/1

OK, so usually I don't write about the chasing pack but clearly we need to talk about Fulham. Just like in 2008, this team seems to be coming from the dead to make a late charge and as Reading fans know only too well, momentum is a powerful force. The bookies are also spooked, as Fulham are now just 3/1 to go up, shorter odds than ourselves, Leeds and Wednesday who are all above Fulham in the table!

Games This Week: TUES: Blackburn (22nd) (H), SAT: Wolves (20th) (H)

A pair of home games that look easy on paper but will the pressure of suddenly being EXPECTED to make the top six get to Fulham? Blackburn and Wolves have both won big away games this season, Blackburn at Newcastle and Wolves at Liverpool so there's plenty of work to be done for Fulham. They'll also finally be done with that game in hand on Tuesday night, so we'll be back in a straight fight.

*****

(8) Preston - 8 Points Behind - 9 Games Left

Points Last Week: 4/6 - Current Promotion Odds: 100/1

Games This Week: SAT: Blackburn (22nd) (A)

*****

Outsiders

(9) Norwich - 10 points behind

(10) Derby - 12 points behind