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Adams demands pride and passion as Sheffield United stare into abyss

Football League

In a vital day of action in the Championship, Norwich will today seek to maintain their slender advantage in second place when they entertain Derby at Carrow Road, while at the other end of the table Sheffield United attempt to keep their chances of survival alive when they go to play-off contenders Reading.

The Yorkshire club's Championship hopes are hanging by a thread, despite claiming three points on Saturday; Jordan Slew scored a late winner to beat Bristol City 3-2, after both teams had had a man sent off. However, if United's result is worse than that of Crystal Palace at home to Leeds today, then the Blades will be relegated. Asked if his side now had a realistic chance of avoiding the drop, United manager Micky Adams said: "We don't know. We've asked them to show a bit of pride and passion in their own performance and be brave and that's all they can do."

Their game at the Madejski Stadium takes on a different significance with the news that Chris Armstrong, the former Reading and Sheffield United full-back, who was forced to retire due to diagnosis of multiple sclerosis earlier this season, will lead the two teams out. Reading's Andy Griffin paid tribute to the 28-year-old, saying: "It is a tragedy at such a tender age. You might have a few emotional people on Monday afternoon."

Burnley sit just outside the play-off spots on goal difference having joined Leeds nd Nottingham Forest on 66 points following their 4-2 win over Derby on Saturday. Burnley twice came from behind to claim victory; the decisive moment coming on the hour mark when Jamie Ward, who had previously put Derby in front, was dismissed for bringing down Tyrone Mears in the penalty box. Having already scored an audacious lob in the first half, Chris Eagles netted the resulting spot kick to equalise 2-2 for Burnley before Wade Elliot and Chris McCann sealed the win.

Burnley today host a Portsmouth side that are lingering in mid-table after a dull 0-0 draw at home to Swansea on Saturday. Off the field there are reports that Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov is nearing a takeover deal for the south-coast club with current owner Balram Chainrai agreeing a payment deal that will see him receive back most of his £17m loan.

In League One, Peterborough will today look to revive their promotion push at home to Yeovil after a 2-1 loss to play-off hopefuls Leyton Orient on Friday, which saw them lose ground on second-placed Southampton and Huddersfield in third. Martin Allen's Notts County came from behind to beat fellow strugglers Swindon 2-1 on Saturday to boost their survival hopes. County, who play one of Allen's old clubs Brentford today, have now put daylight between themselves and the bottom four, while last-placed Swindon will be relegated if they lose or draw and other results transpire against them – leading Robins manager Paul Hart to admit that he has "a decision to make [about his future] this weekend".

In League Two, leaders Chesterfield drew 0-0 at Oxford United on Saturday and will be crowned champions if they beat Bury this afternoon in the top-of-the-table game. The bottom two, Barnet and Stockport, both secured away wins on Saturday to Gillingham and Port Vale respectively. Barnet now sit just one point from safety and play Oxford United today while Stockport must beat fellow strugglers Northampton if they are to avoid relegation from the Football League.

The big issues: what can be decided in today's games


* Promotion

QPR will be promoted and crowned champions if they beat Hull today.

* Play-offs

Norwich and Cardiff have now confirmed their play-off spots: Reading will secure their place with a win over Sheffield United this afternoon.

* Relegation

A Crystal Palace victory at home to Leeds will relegate Sheffield United regardless of the Blades' result. A Palace win will also send Preston down, if the Lancashire team lose to Cardiff today.

League One

* Promotion

Brighton are champions with Southampton and Huddersfield fighting it out for second-place.

* Play-offs

MK Dons will secure their play-off place with a win against Plymouth

* Relegation

Swindon will be relegated if they lose today and Dagenham & Redbridge win their game against Huddersfield.

League Two

* Promotion

Chesterfield (above) are already promoted but will win the division if they beat Bury tonight. Bury themselves will secure automatic promotion if they beat Chesterfield and Wycombe fail to win.

* Play-offs

Even third-placed Shrewsbury have not yet confirmed their play-off spot but will do so, along with Wycombe if both teams win.

* Relegation

Bottom-placed Stockport must beat Northampton, who lie six points above them, to have any chance of clawing themselves clear. A draw would effectively send them down as they have an inferior goal difference.


* Promotion

Crawley are champions

* Play-offs

Wrexham need just a point to secure their play-off spot and Fleetwood Town will confirm their place if they win and Kidderminister lose.