10:10am Saturday 23rd March 2013
By Dave Flett
The battle to avoid the drop is hotting up in League Two. Here we assess the relegation run-ins of York City and their five closest rivals.
AS ANY stater of the flipping obvious will tell you, football is not played on paper.
Indeed, recent visitors to Bootham Crescent, with its badly-ploughed furrows, could claim with validation that sometimes it is not even contested on grass.
That will not stop York City supporters agonising and obsessing over their relegation rivals’ run-ins, however, during the five weeks left for Nigel Worthington’s players to stave off the threat of the swiftest-ever return to non-League football since promotion was introduced from the Conference back in 1987.
As evidenced in midweek, though, when an 50-1 four-fold accumulator saw the Minstermen drop into the dreaded bottom two for the first time this season, results can be as unexpected as a heavy snow fall at this stage of the season.
Nevertheless, an analysis of the fuxture lists of the six teams in most peril as the campaign reaches its seven-game climax is still irresistible.
Perhaps the most glaring immediate observation is from the four matches left to be played between the current bottom six, City are involved in three of them within the next fortnight, starting today at Torquay.
That must concentrate minds in North Yorkshire as the results from those games will, in all likelihood, define the team’s survival chances.
Bottom-of-the-table Aldershot are the only side from the lowly group who do not have a six-pointer between now and the end of the season, meaning they are now totally reliant on other team’s results, as well as their own, due to their inability to inflict damage on any of the five sides presently above them in the standings.
If it is to be safely assumed that mid-table sextet Chesterfield, Morecambe, Bristol Rovers, Wycombe, Dagenham and Rochdale are now free of play-off aspirations and relegation concerns, however, then possibly the fact that the Shots are still to face three of those teams could work in the Hampshire club’s favour.
So too could a final day trip to Rotherham who could very realistically have secured a play-off place by then with no prospect of automatic promotion.
Likewise, Barnet’s April 27 journey to Northampton could be played under the same circumstances.
However, with City closing the season at Dagenham, Plymouth at Rochdale, Torquay at home to Bristol Rovers and Accrington at home to an Oxford team, currently only outsiders for a play-off spot, it is highly possible that none of the bottom six will face sides with anything other than pride to play for as the curtain falls on the season.
The conclusion – whichever two clubs occupy the Football League’s 91st and 92nd positions following the penultimate weekend’s fixtures, regardless of the mathematical possibilities, look highly unlikely to clamber to safety.
What bearing the Easter programme has on the campaign’s culmination will also be interesting.
Will the fact that Good Friday contestants Torquay, Barnet, Aldershot and Accrington get an extra day’s rest before their Bank Holiday Monday fixtures count for anything?
Plymouth’s schedule of a home match against derby rivals and promotion hopefuls Exeter on the Saturday followed by a six-hour, 335-mile trip to Bootham Crescent to meet the Minstermen 48 hours later seems hugely demanding.
In fact, four of Argyle’s remaining matches will be against top-seven teams with clashes against Cheltenham, Burton and Rotherham, following their North Yorkshire odyssey, looking the least favourable run-in of the lot.
Should it all come down to goal difference, though, the Pilgrims look handily equipped on -8, marginally behind Torquay (-7) and in front of Barnet (-9).
Aldershot (-15), City (-15) and Accrington (-17) would be the most worried in that respect.
The crunch games are: Today – Torquay v CITY; Mon, Apr 1 – CITY v Plymouth; Sat, Apr 6 – CITY v Accrington; Sat, Apr 13 – Torquay v Barnet.
Today York (H)
Fri, Mar 29 Northampton (A)
Mon, Apr 1 Bradford (H)
Sat, Apr 6 Gillingham (A)
Sat, Apr 13 Barnet (H)
Sat, Apr 20 Morecambe (A)
Sat, Apr 27 Bristol Rovers (H)
Today Chesterfield (A) - postponed
Sat, Mar 30 Exeter (H)
Mon, Apr 1 York (A)
Sat, Apr 6 Cheltenham (H)
Sat, Apr 13 Burton (A)
Sat, Apr 20 Rotherham (H)
Sat, Apr 27 Rochdale (A)
Today Cheltenham (H)
Fri, Mar 29 Dagenham (H)
Mon, Apr 1 Wimbledon (A)
Sat, Apr 6 Chesterfield (H)
Sat, Apr 13 Torquay (A)
Sat, Apr 20 Wycombe (H)
Sat, Apr 27 Northampton (A)
Today Gillingham (A)
Fri, Mar 29 Wycombe (A)
Mon, Apr 1 Burton (H)
Sat, Apr 6 York (A)
Fri, Apr 12 Morecambe (H)
Sat, Apr 20 Bristol Rovers (A)
Sat, Apr 27 Oxford (H)
Today Torquay (A)
Sat, Mar 30 Bristol Rovers (A)
Mon, Apr 1 Plymouth (H)
Sat, Apr 6 Accrington (H)
Sat, Apr 13 Northampton (A)
Sat, Apr 20 Southend (H)
Sat, Apr 27 Dagenham (A)
Today Port Vale (A) - postponed
Fri, Mar 29 Rochdale (A)
Mon, Apr 1 Oxford (H)
Sat, Apr 6 Southend (H)
Sat, Apr 13 Wycombe (A)
Sat, Apr 20 Dagenham (H)
Sat, Apr 27 Rotherham (A)
Ingham steps up chase for our top award
MICHAEL Ingham has moved to within four points of The Press Player of the Year leader Chris Smith.
City shot-stopper Ingham collected three points as our man of the match during last weekend’s 2-0 home defeat to Port Vale.
Smith (two points) and Michael Rankine (one) were also recognised as The Press’ second and third-highest rated players respectively in that game.
City captain Smith and Ingham are also in a battle at the top of The Press Player of the Month standings for March after sharing the two bonus points on offer towards that contest having polled an equal number of man-of-the-match votes from visitors to our website.
To be in with a chance of presenting March’s Player of the Month with their award – a framed photograph – before a City home game, vote for your man of the match from today’s away game with Torquay.
You can also tweet your choice to @daveflettpress
The Press Player of the Year latest standings (not including Player of the Month bonus points): C Smith 32 points, Ingham 28, Parslow 25, Blair 22, Fyfield 17, Walker 16, Chambers 14, Kerr 13, O’Connell 13, Kearns 12, Oyebanjo 11, McGurk 9, Coulson 7, McLaughlin 6, Potts 6, Carlisle 5, J Smith 5, McGrath 4, Doig 3, Rankine 3, Reed 3, Blanchett 2, Obeng 2, Rodman 2, Taylor 2, Challinor 1, Johnson 1.
The Press Player of the Month for March standings: Smith 10, Ingham 8, Oyebanjo 4, Fyfield 3, Blair 2, Rankine 2, McGrath 1, O’Connell 1, Walker 1.
Goals: Walker 9, Chambers 8, Blair 6, Coulson 5, McLaughlin 4, Reed 4, own goals 3, Potts 3, C Smith 3, Parslow 1, Rodman 1.
Assists: Walker 7, Chambers 6, J Smith 5, Blair 4, C Smith 4, Kearns 3, McLaughlin 3, Carlisle 2, Coulson 2, Kerr 2, McGrath 2, Parslow 2, Rodman 2, Challinor 1, Fyfield 1, Reed 1.
Bad boys: C Smith 6 yellow cards; Chambers 5 yellow; Kerr 1 red, 3 yellow; Fyfield, Ingham both 3 yellow; Blair, McLaughlin, O’Connell, Oyebanjo, Parslow, Potts all 2 yellow; Carlisle, Challinor, Coulson, Doig, Johnson, McGurk, Rodman, J Smith, Walker all 1 yellow.
• A total approaching £1,000 was raised from the proceeds of this month’s entertaining youth team dinner, where Steve Kindon was the guest speaker.
The Supporters’ Trust also handed over a cheque of £3,500 to be donated towards the youth team fund.
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