Billy Davies, the Nottingham Forest manager, has urged his players to "come of age" after they secured the final Championship play-off spot with a convincing away win at Crystal Palace.
Forest will now meet Swansea after Lewis McGugan's 17th-minute volley put Forest in front on Saturday before Palace defender Dean Moxey was shown a red card. Marcus Tudgay headed a second and David McGoldrick struck a long-range third to end any faint hopes of a Palace comeback. The 3-0 win rendered Leeds' victory at QPR insignificant.
Davies said: "I said to the players at the end of the game that it's crucial for them to come of age, having avoided relegation, having come so close last season and having got to the play-offs again this season. We will go into the play-offs confident, we will go into the play-offs positive and scoring goals."
Forest face Swansea in the play-offs while the other Championship semi-final is between Cardiff City and Reading. After his side's 2-1 win over Derby, the Reading manager Brian McDermott said: "I had a funny feeling we would play Cardiff. Both our games this season were draws and there was nothing in it. I just wanted to get into the play-offs."
In League One, the Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has vowed to strengthen his squad after they clinched promotion with a 3-1 home win over Walsall. "There will be additions, and we will look to bring quality in to join an already excellent group of players," Adkins said.
The Walsall manager, Dean Smith, is already planning for next season after "his greatest achievement in football". The Saddlers needed three points to guarantee safety but were still avoided relegation after Dagenham & Redbridge were thrashed 5-0 at Peterborough United – which sent John Still's side back down after one season in League One. "I will sit down with the chairman on Monday and discuss next season but for now we all just want to celebrate with the fans," Smith said.
In League Two, Lincoln's 3-0 home defeat to Aldershot allowed Barnet to save themselves with a 1-0 win over Port Vale and sent the Imps crashing out of the League. Aldershot struck three times in the second half at Sincil Bank to condemn Lincoln, while Izale McLeod's penalty at the start of the second half sealed Barnet's vital win in front of a crowd of over 4,000.
The Bees caretaker manager, Giuliano Grazioli, said staying up eclipsed everything he achieved as a player."As a player here, winning promotion was great, winning golden boots, and playing at Old Trafford was a fantastic occasion, but this has surpassed everything," he claimed.
Play-off semi-final dates
Thursday Nottingham Forest v Swansea
Friday Reading v Cardiff
16 May Swansea v Nottingham Forest
17 May Cardiff v Reading
* League One
Saturday Bournemouth v Huddersfield
Sunday MK Dons v Peterborough Utd
18 May Huddersfield v Bournemouth
19 May Peterborough Utd v MK Dons
* League Two
Saturday Torquay v Shrewsbury
Sunday Stevenage v Accrington Stanley
20 May Shrewsbury v Torquay
20 May Accrington Stanley v Stevenage
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