Peterborough United v Reading: The relegation showdown neither club can afford to lose

It's been billed as a "relegation six-pointer" and one of the biggest Championship clashes in recent memory.

Whatever term you want to use to describe Peterborough United's showdown with Reading on Wednesday night, there's no getting away from the the fact that this is a huge game.

Massive, in fact.

Just two points separate the two clubs ahead of the match at the Weston Homes Stadium, hardly an unusual occurrence at this stage in any normal season.

Except this isn't a normal season.

Because 11 points is the very sizeable gap between fourth from bottom Reading and fifth from bottom Hull City, meaning the bottom four clubs are already affectively cut adrift.

Reading and Peterborough are separated by just two points. Credit: ITV News Anglia

That's created a mini league for one survival spot, a position Peterborough will move into if they manage to beat the Royals on Wednesday night.

Posh fan Peter Lloyd has supported the club for more than 50 years and says it's one of the most important games in the club's history.

"When you know that there's a mini league that's developed where three out of four teams are going down, and you're one of them, it's horrible, but also exciting," he told ITV News Anglia.

"You know that you've got a chance of getting ahead of one of those teams tonight and just changing the direction of the season - I mean, it really could be as big as that.

"It's just as big at the play-off final at Old Trafford (against Huddersfield Town) or the infamous match at Crystal Palace in 2013."

Peterborough United's most recent game against Preston North End ended in a 1-0 defeat. Credit: PA

For Peterborough, there's no doubt that relegation would be a huge setback.

Posh have big ambitions to build a new stadium on the city's Embankment as well as revamping their training ground, steps that would be far more financially viable if they remain in the second tier.

The club are keen to build for the future on the pitch as well after their academy was recently granted Category Two status, while a sustained run in the Championship would allow them to attract more established first team players in the coming seasons.

Dropping back into League One would certainly stall that progress, and after just one win in 15 league games, that prospect is looking more and more likely.

"Staying in the Championship is just so important, it's what this season was going to be all about," said Mr Lloyd.

"The whole club from top to bottom, from the chairman to the manager, they thought this was going to be it, we were going to stay here and consolidate. It's so important for the future development of the club that we stay in this league."

Reading have lost their last eight games in all competitions. Credit: PA

That kind of desperation is reflected at Reading too.

Their 150th birthday celebrations on Saturday were marred by protests against the club's owners - a sign of how disconnected fans feel from their club at the moment.

They've also been operating under a transfer embargo after they were found guilty of breaking profit and sustainability rules which has seen them plummet from play-off contenders last season to a relegation dogfight this time out.

That fall from grace is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that the Royals have lost their last seven league games.

If Peterborough could inflict an eighth, then who knows just how big an impact such a result could have on the future destiny of both clubs.

  • Peterborough United v Reading, Wednesday 16 February, 7.45pm