LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) - Hull City continued to suffer major promotion jitters when they missed the chance to seal a return to the Premier League on Saturday after losing 2-0 at relegation-threatened Barnsley.
The east coast club, who spent two seasons in the Premier League from 2008-10 having worked their way up from being in the fourth division in 2004, would have secured second spot in the second-tier Championship with a win.
Instead the race to join champions Cardiff City in going up automatically will go to the wire with Hull hosting the Welsh side next Saturday and third-placed Watford, a point behind, welcoming Leeds United in their final league game.
Hull boss Steve Bruce, who twice led Birmingham City to promotion to the Premier League and also had spells in charge of Wigan Athletic and Sunderland in the top flight, has only been in charge for a season but has exceeded most fan expectations.
However, a 0-0 draw with relegated Bristol City on April 19 has been followed by a deserved defeat at Barnsley, who jumped out of the relegation zone thanks to goals from Jacob Mellis and Chris O‘Grady.
A third Premier League berth, also worth an estimated 120 million pounds ($185.90 million), comes via the four-team playoffs following the end of the normal season.
Gianfranco Zola’s Watford, who beat Leicester 2-1 away on Friday, are secure in a playoff berth along with Brighton and Hove Albion. Crystal Palace and Bolton Wanderers are best placed for the other two spots.
$1 = 0.6455 British pounds Writing by Mark Meadows, editing by Pritha Sarkar