Harty on the battle for the last play-off spot

Brighton v Yeovil. Picture by Angela Brinkhurst
Brighton v Yeovil. Picture by Angela Brinkhurst

I DON’T know who’s going to be sweating more on Saturday morning, Albion or Reading fans. The Seagulls face a midday showdown in Nottingham, which will, along with events elsewhere, decide who gets the fourth place in the Championship play-offs.

After a rollercoaster of 45 games, it comes down to the last 90 minutes and, basically, in layman’s terms, now the Albion have to better Reading’s result at the Madeski Stadium to get that all important sixth place.

That is where I actually see a glimmer of hope. If I could probably pick a team and its manager to have to go and get a result at Reading, Saturday’s visitors Burnley would be very high, if not top of the list.

In Sean Dyche, they have a classic, what you see is what you get British football manager, and he spoke about the upcoming game on Sky on Sunday.

At that point, prior to Wigan’s victory at Birmingham on Tuesday, it was a three-horse race for fifth and sixth. And, when asked who he felt would miss out, he replied he thought it would be Reading for no more reason than they were playing Burnley.

Dyche stated he would put out his strongest side in order to win all three points, with the added incentive of extending a club record of league wins in a season.

That’s backed up by the fact that 4,000 Clarets fans will leave Turf Moor at 4am, so there is no way Dyche will put out a side that will merely roll over.

But that means nothing if the Albion don’t deliver against Forest at the City Ground. And all the talk of Forest having nothing to play for doesn’t really wash with me.

A visit to their stadium tells you everything. The statue of Brian Clough clearly indicates a club steeped in tradition, throw into the mix that Stuart Pearce, although not due to take over the manager’s job until July, will be in attendance, and no doubt will visit the dressing room.

Like Dyche, he doesn’t do ‘rolling over’ and if the Albion are to be successful, they will have to earn their victory.

It’s a far cry from 11 years ago in 2003 when, fighting relegation at the other end of the table, the Albion travelled to Grimsby for a showdown, hoping other results went their way as well.

Sadly, they didn’t and Steve Coppell’s men were relegated, although my abiding memory of the day was the frantic exchange of mobile calls as the much-maligned Albion striker Paul Kitson, for whatever reason, got off the coach and the-then club ‘man Friday’ Matt Hicks was frantically trying to get him a lift home.

Needless to say, as a result of his performances that season and his general attitude, he got short shrift from our particular vehicle, spare seat or not.

As for this Saturday, I’m going to stick my neck out and predict Reading will not beat Burnley and, deep down, despite some woeful performances throughout the campaign, when it comes down to it, I think the Albion will produce a top-quality performance and return down the M1 still in the mix.

I was away last week but, prior to going, I witnessed one of the most distasteful episodes in the history of domestic football.

Manchester United may claim to be one of the greatest clubs in the world but that treatment of David Moyes over his dismissal was nothing short of disgusting.

He finally got sacked at 9am on Tuesday morning. I, and no doubt several thousands of others, received a text telling me at 2.35pm on Monday.

What would Sir Matt Busby have made of it all?