THE BIG MATCH

Cardiff City could move another step closer to the npower Championship title when they visit relegation threatened Peterborough United on Saturday.

The Bluebirds go into the Easter weekend seven points clear at the summit with a game in hand, so maximum points from their two matches, starting with Posh, will certainly enhance their title hopes.

Manager Malky Mackay will know just how significant their two Easter fixtures are, and how pivotal it will be in the race for promotion to the Premier League.

Peterborough will of course be desperate for the points themselves as they remain in the relegation zone. A win against the leaders would lift them two places, above Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley who meet at Hillsborough, and they will be confident of doing so as they have lost just twice in 11 matches, form manager Darren Ferguson wants to see continued.

They are also one of the few teams to already beat Cardiff this term, winning 2-1 in Wales back in December.

"It [the relegation zone] will chop and change - different teams will be in it and different teams will be out of it, but all that matters is that you are out of it on May 4th, and that is all I am looking at," Ferguson told www.theposh.com.

"If we get three points on Saturday it gets us out of the bottom three, but you can soon go back into it if you don't keep your consistency, and that's the key for us. We're consistent at the moment.

"No-one can really tell how many wins we need to be able to get out of the bottom three because, as we've found when we've won, most other teams keep winning.

"There is a lot of teams in it [the relegation fight] though, and nobody with under 50 points is safe so we just have to keep doing what we're doing - picking up the points and hopefully keeping this run going."

KEEP AN EYE ON

The battle at the bottom is intensifying as the season reaches approaches its final straight and Wolverhampton Wanderers, a team embroiled in the relegation scrap, will be looking for maximum points when they visit rivals Birmingham City on Monday.

It was hoped that Dean Saunders' arrival at the Molineux in early January would spark an upturn in fortunes for the team that were relegated from the top flight last term but that hasn't happened, and they again find themselves fighting against the drop.

Going into the weekend's fixtures, Saunders' men lie 23rd in the division, just a point adrift of safety, so their destiny remains firmly in their own hands. And the club would enjoy nothing more than three points against near-neighbours Birmingham City, who are 12th.

Wolves have won two of their last three and boss Saunders is looking to maintain that positive form, to drag them away from trouble.

He explained to www.wolves.co.uk: "We've got three decent results now out of the last four games and won a couple in there, one at home and one away. I'm expecting us to build on that now and maybe win a couple of games quickly and take the pressure off us a little bit.

"If we could get two good performances over Easter the pressure wouldn't be off but it would give us a bit of breathing space. We've got four home games and if we win all of those we'll be fine.

"That's one way of looking at it but it doesn't really matter how we do it - we've probably just got to win four games."

The Blues have been struggling down at the bottom for the majority of the campaign but, after just two losses in 11, they are now mid-table and looking up rather than down, even though they are not mathematically safe.

And their improvement since the turn of the year has pleased boss Lee Clark.

"In terms of the last couple of months, we're a completely different team," the manager told the Birmingham Post.

"There's been a lot more positive results, we've played in a way I've wanted to play - high tempo football - and certainly away it's been about doing your job, being compact, nullifying the home crowd, which we have done."

Regardless of league standings, this is always going to be an exciting fixture with bragging rights on offer, so expect a cracker at St Andrews.

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

The Easter weekend of football in the npower Championship begins on Friday, with the highlight being Burnley manager Sean Dyche's return to his former club Watford, who are third and vying for an automatic promotion place with Gianfranco Zola at the helm.

Three points for Zola's men would lift them up to second, above Hull City, who aren't in action until Saturday evening, when they take on Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Crystal Palace are also fighting for a place in the top two - they currently trail the second-placed Tigers by three points but have a better goal difference - and meet Birmingham City on Friday.

Below the Eagles sit Nottingham Forest - the division's form side, and the only team in the Play-Off contingent who were victorious last time out. They have won six on the bounce and take that record to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

The Seagulls are level on 59 points with Leicester City, who occupy the lowest place in the Play-Offs. The Foxes haven't won in five but will hope to end that when they host Millwall.

Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers sit side-by-side in the table, 17th and 18th respectively, four points above the drop zone, and meet at Ewood Park on Friday afternoon, the same time that Derby County entertain rock-bottom Bristol City at Pride Park.

Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley lie in the two spots above the bottom three ahead of their meeting at Hillsborough, while the team directly above them, Ipswich Town, host 10th-placed Leeds United.

Middlesbrough, in ninth, and eighth-placed Bolton Wanderers are both on the road on Saturday, to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic respectively.

Boro's hopes of a Play-Off place are becoming slimmer as the season advances, but six points over the weekend could haul them back into the race for a top-six finish. Following their match with Wolves, Tony Mowbray's men take on Peterborough on Tuesday evening.

Tuesday's big game comes from the KC Stadium, though, as Hull meet Watford in a promotion humdinger. The match could go a long way in deciding who takes the second automatic promotion place.

The other two fixtures on Tuesday see Brighton host Charlton and Huddersfield make the journey to Bolton.

Before all of those matches, however, there's eight games in the Championship on Monday, including a reunion for Ian Holloway at Bloomfield Road, where Crystal Palace go head-to-head with Blackpool.

The Eagles' Play-Off rivals Nottingham Forest and Leicester City are also in action, away to Burnley and Barnsley respectively, while leaders Cardiff have a home match against struggling Blackburn.

At the other end of the division, there is a battle between two sides deep in the relegation scrap, with Bristol City hosting Sheffield Wednesday. The Robins may be bottom of the league, but they are in form at home, with just one loss at Ashton Gate this year.

Millwall and Ipswich Town certainly aren't clear of danger either and they meet at the Den, while Leeds United entertain Derby County in what is the remaining Championship fixture of the Easter weekend.

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