Few fans know the agony of an end of season collapse as well as those of Cardiff City, who have watched their team throw away their chances of promotion more times than they would care to remember.
Perhaps their lowest moment came in 2011, when they watched their Welsh rivals Swansea triumph in the play offs to earn an unlikely promotion to the Premier League before Cardiff.
The previous year had seen Cardiff losing 3-2 to Blackpool in the play-off final, despite having led twice in the match, and they have lost in the semi-finals in the past two seasons. Perhaps more agonising than those play-off losses has been the fact that they could have clinched automatic promotion in many of those seasons, only ending up in the play offs at all because of dismal form towards the end of the season.
However this year, it seems different, with Cardiff looking almost certain to take their place in the Premiership. Following their 2-1 win away at Wolves on Sunday, they are eight points clear at the top with a game in hand.
That win was also important in settling the side after a 2-0 home defeat to Brighton on the previous Tuesday which ended a nine game unbeaten run and understandably sparked fears of another collapse. Despite all their previous failings, this Cardiff side are surely far too good to let their promotion place slip away again.
At home they have dropped only eight points all season, and in their last seven away matches they have won five and drawn two. The addition of Frazier Campbell in January should ensure they don’t lack firepower in the closing weeks, with the striker scoring both goals in the win over Wolves at the weekend, and their defensive record is amongst the best in the division.
Having watched Swansea go from strength to strength in the Premier League, and indeed claim the League Cup on Sunday, Cardiff will be desperate that Michael Laudrup’s side are not the only Welsh team with something to celebrate this season, and neutrals should be able to look forward to a completely new Premier League derby next year.
image: © joncandy