Former giants Leeds in five-way battle for promotion

LONDON: Fallen English giants Leeds United were locked in a five-way fight to escape English football’s Division Three on Saturday.

Leeds, Millwall, Swindon, Charlton and Huddersfield could all secure the second promotion spot behind champions Norwich City on the final day of the campaign next Saturday.

Leeds, 2001 Champions League semi-finalists before their financial implosion, blew their chance to seal automatic promotion.

They lost 1-0 at Charlton due to an 88th-minute Richard Naylor own goal before 23,198 fans at The Valley but retained second place on 83 points, while Millwall lost 2-0 at relegation-threatened Tranmere to stay third on 82.

Swindon beat visitors Brentford 3-2, while Huddersfield scraped a last-minute win over visitors Colchester before a 17,950 crowd to stay in the fight, three points behind Leeds.

All five sides have qualified for the play-offs at least.

Both Leeds and Huddersfield have won the English title three times, while Leeds, Swindon and Charlton are all former Premier League clubs battling to clamber back up the divisions.

At the bottom, Stockport, Wycombe and Southend are relegated, while one of Tranmere, Exeter and Gillingham will join them in League Two.

In Division Four, Notts County, Bournmouth and Rochdale have already secured the three automatic promotion places.

County started the season with former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson on board and Arsenal defender Sol Campbell in the ranks but despite the high-profile regime’s collapse, the Magpies have still claimed the title.

The clash of the day was at the bottom of the table, where Grimsby and Barnet were both fighting to stop themselves joining Darlington in being relegated from the Football League.

Home side Grimsby triumphed 2-0 before 7,033 fans at Blundell Park.

The Mariners looked certainties for relegation but a terrific run has seen them close in on their rivals.

But both sides, plus Cheltenham – who lost 5-0 at Notts County – are all in danger of filling the final relegation spot in the final round of games next Saturday.

Conference winners Stevenage have been promoted to the Football League and one of either Luton, Oxford, Rushden and Diamonds and York – all former league sides – will join them in Division Four. — AFP

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