Derby set for promotion party

  • By: Craig Chisnall
  • Last Updated: May 24 2014, 7:14 BST

Craig Chisnall previews the Sky Bet Football League play-offs with Derby fancied to gain promotion to the Premier League.

Steve McClaren: Can guide Derby to the Premier League
Steve McClaren: Can guide Derby to the Premier League

Derby stormed into the Championship play-off final by hammering Brighton 6-2 on aggregate and I can't see QPR stopping them on Saturday.

Steve McClaren's men were a class above the Seagulls over two legs, winning the clash at the iPro Stadium 4-1, and that was their seventh win in the last eight games.

Even when they went a goal down at Brighton there was not an ounce of panic as they turned the first leg around to win 2-1 and romped to victory in the return.

Such is the belief and confidence coursing through their squad that Albion got off lightly in the end. And just like Blackpool and Swansea in recent seasons they have hit the play-offs in fine form.

They've got goals from all over the pitch, not just leading scorer Chris Martin, as well as pace going forward with the likes of Jamie Ward, Johnny Russell and Will Hughes.

On the vast open spaces of Wembley I believe this could well be a factor against QPR's ageing squad.

I'm convinced Rangers will look to keep it tight for as long as possible in the hope experienced campaigners Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar will create a chance for the lethal Charlie Austin.

But even if Rangers do get on the scoresheet the Rams look to have the firepower to nick one more than them.

There's also more pressure on QPR given their financial outlay in recent seasons so that could also be a factor.

I believe it will be tight but I'm going with McClaren, who was a coach at QPR at the start if the season, to get one over his former employers. That's available at a best price 16/11 with 888sport.

Of all the finals this weekend I believe Sunday's League 1 clash between Leyton Orient and Rotherham will be the most entertaining.

Their semi-finals with Peterborough and Preston provided plenty of thrills and spills and both teams have goals in them.

The O's, who have been superb all season under Russell Slade despite constantly being written off, have Kevin Lisbie, David Mooney and Dean Cox as their constant threats, while hile the Millers main men have been top scorer Kieran Agard, Alex Revell and Ben Pringle. And it's Agard who I'm going with in the score at any time market given his fine form.

The former Everton youngster has always been tipped for big things but this season he's finally living up to that billing.

His pace and power have helped him plunder 26 goals, including the winner against North End, and he will relish this big stage.

The 24-year-old has also been deadly from the spot and that's always more than useful in this market.

Ladbrokes offer him at 7/4 and I will be taking them up on that.

The League 2 semi-finals were much more conservative and I believe the final will be exactly the same between Fleetwood and Burton after they saw off York and Southend.

There was only one goal in the tie as the Cod Army saw off York while Burton battled brilliantly for a 2-2 draw at Roots Hall to beat the Shrimpers 3-2 on aggregate.

These two have already met four times this season with the Brewers winning two of them, one an FA Cup replay, and there's been very little between them throughout.

Their league matches saw the away teams run out victorious and given their semi-finals everything points to a stalemate.

There's more pressure on Town given how much chairman Andy Pilley has invested in Graham Alexander's squad.

Albion have been magnificent all season and boss Gary Rowett hasn't got anywhere near enough credit for the job he's done since taking over from Paul Peschisolido two years ago.

Both bosses were high-class defenders in their playing days and they are heading in the right directions on the sidelines. It could even take penalties to separate their sides at Wembley though so get on the draw at a widely available 23/10.