Wembley to relegation scrap: Hull City, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley will battle to avoid late drama

Hull City's Adama Diomande, left, and Dimitri Cavatre, of Barnsley, duel for the ball during Tuesday's 1-1 Championship draw at KCOM Stadium (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).
Hull City's Adama Diomande, left, and Dimitri Cavatre, of Barnsley, duel for the ball during Tuesday's 1-1 Championship draw at KCOM Stadium (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).
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Two seasons ago Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City met on the final day of the season hoping to leave the Championship. Now they are desperate to stay in it.

Mohamed Diame’s dramatic 72nd-minute goal saw the Tigers beat Carlos Carvalhal’s Owls at Wembley to clinch promotion to the Premier League on May 28, 2016.

Fast forward two years and both of these Yorkshire teams – along with Barnsley – are scrapping to avoid departing the Championship through the trap door, and none wants another nerve-jangling final-day scenario.

With just a dozen games remaining to salvage their season, the Tykes are just two points off the bottom three, with Hull only a single point further away.

Throw in Wednesday’s struggles in their 150th anniversary season – they are seven points off the drop zone following back-to-back play-off finishes – and it has not been a season to remember for this Yorkshire trio.

So what do Wednesday, Hull and Barnsley – who have all changed their managers this season – have to do over the final dozen games to secure Championship football?

Well, the good news is that with one team usually left marooned at the bottom of the table it is highly unlikely that all three will be relegated to the third tier of English football.

Over the last five seasons, Rotherham United (with a measly 23 points), Bolton Wanderers (30), Blackpool (26), Yeovil Town (37) and Bristol City (41) have finished bottom of the pile, their seasons over long before the final weekend of the campaign.

But there is a very real threat this season that there could be a repeat of four years ago, when two Yorkshire teams were relegated from the Championship.

Then it was Doncaster Rovers (44) and Barnsley (39) in 2013-14, but who will be the losers in 2017-18?

Currently, Sunderland – on 27 points – look the likely candidates to finish bottom, with Burton Albion (29) and Birmingham City (30) just above them.

Do not be surprised if Nigel Clough’s Burton scrap their way out of trouble, and the Blues have plenty of talent to take the relegation fight to the final weekend in May.

Looking back over the last five seasons, Rotherham stayed up with 49 points, with Huddersfield Town on 51 two years ago.

But 12 months ago that points tally would not have been sufficient. Blackburn Rovers were relegated with 51 points in the bag.

The 50-point barrier is usually seen as the threshold of safety – and in most seasons teams can start planning their summer holidays when they pass the mark.

The Millers stayed up in 2014-15 with just 46 points as Millwall (41), Wigan (39) and Blackpool (26) dropped into League One.

But five seasons ago, Peterborough United were relegated with an astonishing 54 points.

Posh actually won 15 games that campaign, had a goal difference of only minus nine, but they stand out as the exception when raking over recent statistics.

There is a ray of hope, though, for all three Yorkshire teams battling to avoid the drop this season. Things can improve.

Both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bristol City were relegated to League One alongside Posh five seasons ago.

Now both are chasing promotion out of the Championship. Wolves look nailed on for the title and the Robins are fighting for a play-off spot.

The Owls have back-to-back games at Hillsborough next week.

A maximum six points from games against Ipswich Town and Bolton would give Jos Luhukay’s team some welcome breathing space.

Wednesday have put in some decent performances at Hillsborough over the last six weeks, taking four points against promotion-chasing Cardiff City, Derby County and Aston Villa.

“I’m not concerned,” said Luhukay. “We have played very well against Aston Villa, Derby and Cardiff.

“They are three clubs that are playing for promotion to the Premier League, but we performed well at home.

“The result was not good against Villa but we competed well.

“I’m not afraid of our situation in the league.”

There is a similarly defiant message from Oakwell and the KC Stadium too.

Reds’ head coach Jose Morais, who has seen his side take five points from their last four outings, said: “My intention is to play the games and make the points that allow us to continue to play in this league, and I’m not thinking about anything different from this.

“I think the players have the quality and everything that people are saying I’m not even taking because the team are starting to play with a certain quality.

“What I want is to take them from this long, non-positive trend because I believe we are going out from this situation very quick.”

To reach the 50-point mark – which looking at the table this morning should be enough to secure safety this year – both Hull and the Reds need to win six games out of their final 12, while the Owls probably need at least another four wins.

Hull and Barnsley shared the points in a 1-1 draw on Tuesday evening, meaning Nigel Adkins’s Tigers have picked up seven points from a possible 12.

“Tuesday was another game undefeated and we’re building momentum,” said Adkins.

“That’s an important thing and particularly at home where we’re now unbeaten in eight. We’re in a relegation fight, and we are fighting.”

For Hull, Wednesday and Barnsley, all three will be hoping the battle is won before the season reaches its climax on Sunday, May 6.