With April just around the corner, the end of season shootout for promotion and the play offs is hotting up rather nicely. Seven games to go in League 2 and the only certainty is that Northampton Town will be Champions and rightfully so in my opinion. The Cobblers have been in amazing form since November with the only question remaining, at what game will they lift the trophy?
The battle for the two remaining automatic promotion places is certainly unfolding as the games keep ticking away. Oxford and Plymouth currently sitting in second and third respectively however only five points separates Oxford in 2nd and Bristol Rovers in 5th.
While the play off places also look set to go down to the wire with a battle for the last remaining spot, teams down in 12th still have a faint hope of reaching the end of season lottery.
This weekend could be pivotal to who finishes in the automatic positions come May. Oxford play in the JPT final on Sunday afternoon, meaning that Accrington, Bristol Rovers and Plymouth all have the chance to close the gap on the U’s. Come 5pm on Saturday afternoon, Oxford could only be 3rd on goal difference ahead of Accrington Stanley.
Form in Last 8 Games :
Bristol Rovers are the form side in the division with their defeat to Carlisle on Easter Monday ending their run of six straight league wins. The Pirates are looking for second consecutive promotion after returning to League 2 through the play offs last May.
Performances rarely matter in the dying games of the season, when you are at the top you don’t mind how you play or how you pick up your points.
There remains a worry for Wycombe and Leyton Orient with both of them looking to obtain the last play off place. Both sides are struggling to score goals currently and will need to find the net if they are to finish in the top 7 come May 7th.
Here is the top 5 and their run in till the end of the season, the highlighted games seem to have the most importance however as we all know every game when you are seeking promotion is as important as the next:
All of the promotion contenders have important games with either play off pushing teams or teams in form. You may be wondering about Hartlepool being highlighed? Craig Hignett’s men play 3 of the 4 contenders in their last 4 games and could be an important factor to who finishes in the top 3. Hartlepool are one of the form teams in the divisions and will certainly be no push overs in the run in.
Portsmouth will be in the play offs come May, in my opinion. They have an outside chance of promotion however will be setting their sights on a trip to Wembley.
While here is the run in for the play off contenders:
On paper Leyton Orient have the easiest run in of the play off contenders however with the unpredictable nature of Kevin Nolan’s men anything can happen at Brisbane Road. Considering Orient picked up 0 points over the Easter period, it is a massive plus that they sit just two points off the play offs with six games remaining.
Carlisle do have a game in hand on the O’s while Wycombe face a difficult last three games playing promotion contenders who could need a result to seal a place in League 1 next season.
Below is the points that teams 1st – 7th achieved in the past 10 seasons in League Two:
The Champions will be confirmed in the next couple of games so points needed for automatic promotion and 7th are the ones that everyone will be concerned about.
To finish 3rd: Most points collected = 88 Least Points collected = 78 Average = 83
To finish 7th: Most Points: 78 Least= 66 Average= 71
Below I have put the results of the reverse fixtures of the run ins and my predictions for the final games:
It may be hard to follow, these results so below is the predicted finishing positions if the results of the reverse fixtures are taken into account:
However the likelihood of the same results happening again are very slim, so to provide a more realistic projection here is the prediction finishing points and positions with my predictions:
I think that Oxford will just have enough to earn promotion however their last game of the season against Wycombe could have a meaning for both sides. Wycombe could need a result to make the play offs which could dampen what could be a promotion party.
After seeing Accrington on Good Friday, they are a force at home and with four of their remaining seven games remaining at home; it could prove the difference. Billy Kee links Stanley very well in attacking areas and they are very organised under John Coleman.
Bristol Rovers are the form side in the division and the defeat on Easter Monday shouldn’t stop the Pirates form. Playing the current bottom 3 in their four games, it could make or break Rovers push for a second straight promotion.
Wycombe, Orient or who for the last remaining play off place. It is true that Wycombe have a very tough three matches of the season, however with Orient seemingly struggling to score goals and extremely hard to predict. Who knows who will be there come May, Orient will have Jobi McAnuff back who missed both games over Easter.
Orient face the bottom 2 in their next three matches and no less than 6 points from those games will see them struggle to make the top 7. Carlisle are certainly still within a shout and ready to pounce if Wycombe or Orient slip up.
All we know is that there will be plenty of twists and turns till the end of the season and I fully expect that both the automatic race and play off race to go right down to the wire in the last game of the season.