Play-offs decoded: What's now required for Portsmouth, Charlton Athletic, Blackpool, Sunderland, Oxford United and Lincoln City to reach the top six

The picture has become a lot clearer for Pompey and their play-off fate following the latest round of games in League One. Here’s a definitive account of what’s required for the Blues and the rest of the contenders to achieve a top-six finish.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 1:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 2:20 pm


Eyes are chiefly trained on Charlton for the Blues after the dramatic finish to Tuesday night’s games. Pompey know that six points would be enough to earn them a top-six finish if Nigel Adkins’ side slip up in any one of their three remaining fixtures.

It’s a testing trio of games for the Addicks, too. They go to Accrington on Saturday, who gave Danny Cowley’s side such a stiff challenge last night, before entertaining Lincoln on Tuesday and leaders Hull City on the final day.


After last night’s results, Charlton know their play-off fate is in their own hands. Win all three games and they take the final spot, as a minimum. Obviously, acquiring a higher total than Pompey and Oxford with their game in hand and it’s the same outcome.


The managers involved in the play-off picture (from left) Sunderland's Lee Johnnson, Oxford United's Karl Robinson, Blackpool's Neil Critchely, Charlton's Nigel Adkins, Lincoln's Michael Appleton and Pompey's Danny Cowley

A maximum Pompey return over the final two games would see them better the 74 points Oxford United could attain from winning their final two games against Shrewsbury (A) and Burton Albion (H).

The U’s are left requiring both the Blues and Charlton to slip up, win their games and hope their slightly superior goal difference (16 to Pompey’s 13 and Charlton’s 11) carries them through if they end up level on points.


If Charlton were to pick up nine points from three games, the Blues’ play-off ambitions then becomes a lot harder to achieve - but not impossible.

The focus would be on overhauling Blackpool, who require five points from their final three games to get over the line. The Tangerines face Northampton (A) on Saturday, who need two wins from their last games to stand a chance of survival if Wigan falter, before home fixtures against Doncaster and rock-bottom Bristol Rovers.


Pompey could also conceivably overtake Sunderland whose form has bombed with no wins in seven. The Black Cats incredibly still need to find a win from their final two outings to be certain of a play-off place, although with their goal difference of 26 two draws would do the job in all probability. They go to Plymouth this weekend before Northampton go to the Stadium of Light on the final day.


Lincoln are virtually assured themselves of a play-off position with a 1-0 win over Shrewsbury at New Meadow last night. The Imps, however, require a single point from the remaining games at Peterborough and Charlton, before AFC Wimbledon go to Sincil Bank on the final day.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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