A League 2 blog with an overwhelmingly pro-Torquay United bias
While I was writing up my summary of the weekend’s action (see previous post), I thought I’d prepare a quick update of the run-in analysis. Given that most teams have only 6 games left, this is probably the last time I’ll update it this season as it will shortly cease to be statistically meaningful. Continue reading below for my take on what this (in conjunction with the league table obviously) tells us:
Crewe can still salvage a playoff position. This is conditional on Dario Gradi being able to address their dire away form. Only 1 of their remaining opponents is in the top half, so closing a 6 point gap isn’t yet beyond them on the evidence of yesterday’s apocalyptic performance.
A playoff place has to be the target for Accrington now. Their game in hand is at home, where they’re particularly lethal, and they’ve peaked at the right time to capitalise on their benign run-in; only a point now separates them from 7th position. Even a draw against Southend in midweek will put them into the playoffs regardless of other results.
Shrewsbury’s promotion challenge is in their own hands. Unlike Port Vale, their fortuitous remaining fixtures arrive as they’ve hit a good patch of form which they’re well-placed to exploit. They’ve ground out some impressive away results lately, which points to a reassuring and necessary reserve of mental strength often key at the business end of the season.
Burton have plenty more rolls of the dice. They haven’t exploited their backlog of fixtures to climb the table and their continued poor form suggests that the congested calendar may be sapping their resolve, but having 50% more games remaining than Barnet (and much easier ones at that) is still an enviable position to be in.
Stockport are running out of time. They’ve put in some spirited performances, particularly at home where they’ve won 3 of their last 5, but they’ve given themselves too much to do. It will take a truly heroic effort to keep them in the division.
Hereford and Lincoln are probably safe. For so long these two propped up the division, before virtually synchronised renaissances propelled them up the table. While both have since gone off the boil and face daunting finishes to their respective campaigns, it won’t take many more points to make their survival official.
The hard work for Torquay begins now. The Gulls have by far the toughest remaining fixtures of any playoff hopeful, with 4 of their last 6 games against top 10 sides. They also have to contend with the added complication of losing Craig Stanley’s services for the next 2 matches through suspension: he’s been arguably the most influential player throughout their recent impressive run.
Oxford should forget about promotion. While many teams have sneaked into the playoffs after being 5 points off the pace at this stage of the season, few have done so with as torrid a run-in as Oxford. Their optimism should be further dampened by the continued successes and much easier tasks of most of the teams currently above them, notwithstanding the ease with which Bury carved them open yesterday.
Barnet fans are right not to be optimistic just yet. The Bees have a truly horrible run-in: all of their remaining fixtures are against top half sides, so survival would be a monumental achievement. However, with Martin Allen’s promising start at the helm and nearest rivals Burton and Northampton facing off on Tuesday, you’d be foolish to write them off.