Championship – Stoke go up and send Leicester down

Eurosport

Stoke were promoted back to the top flight after a 23-year absence following a goalless Coca-Cola Championship draw against Leicester at the Britannia Stadium.

FOOTBALL Stoke City fans celebrate promotion - 0

However, it was heartbreak for the Foxes as the result saw them slip out of the top two divisions for the first time in their 124-year history.

It was a rollercoaster of emotions on the final day of the season for the 26,609 inside the Britannia Stadium, particularly for those supporters from Leicester whose transistor radios were tuned into the extraordinary events taking place at St Mary’s between Southampton and Sheffield United.

The tide turned many times for Foxes fans, but ultimately Southampton’s 3-2 victory ensured they would be frequenting League One stadia next season.

By contrast, Stoke’s promotion was all-but sealed when news filtered through midway into the second half that Hull were losing at Ipswich.

Whatever the result had been at Portman Road, Stoke’s draw meant they went up any way and it sparked a massive pitch invasion by their jubilant supporters.

Leicester had known only a win would guarantee their safety, but they couldn’t find a way through the hosts’ defence.

The closest they came was when defender Richard Stearman’s header hit the bar in the 82nd minute, but defeat would have been harsh on Stoke who dominated the clash.

Southampton’s win – coupled with Sheffield Wednesday‘s 4-1 victory over Norwich – meant a draw wasn’t good enough for the Foxes and their manager Ian Holloway.

Saints had to come from behind to secure their status.

Stephen Quinn (23) had given the Blades, who still had an outside chance of making the play-offs heading into the match, the lead.

Marek Saganowski equalised for the Saints three minutes before half-time and Stern John then grabbed his first goal of the match in the 53rd minute.

United substitute Jonathan Stead levelled matters in the 65th minute but John smashed the ball home from inside the penalty area four minutes later to score the decisive goal.

John was then sent off with 10 minutes left for a second bookable offence to set up a tense finale – but Nigel Pearson’s side hung on to avoid the drop.

Sporting Life / Eurosport

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