Match Of The Midweek: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Middlesbrough

The heightened feeling of expectation that is generated by a place in the play-offs is one of the more curious phenomena that has come to accompany this most modern of season end jamborees. Four teams in every division take part in them, but only one can win through and win promotion but it often feels that, in the excitement of the end of season battle to grab something – anything! – from nine months of blood, sweat and tears, the simple logic of the equation that four into one doesn’t go is lost upon us. The hangover of an unsuccessful bid for the play-offs can be mixed. In the Championship this season, Cardiff City have reacted reasonably positively to their Wembley defeat at the hands of Blackpool last May. The beaten semi-finalists, however, have found the new season to be somewhat more laborious. In the case of Leicester City, this is perhaps unsurprising. Catapulted into the play-offs in their first season back in the Championship after a spell in the relative purgatory of League One, their second season was always likely to be more difficult than last, though they can be expected to pull clear of the relegation zone. For the other beaten semi-finalists, Nottingham Forest, however, the hangover has been more mystifying. A state of what has been described as a “Mexican stand-off” is said to exist between...

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