Saturday’s excellent 3-0 win at Crawley has given us an extra boost in our quest to become a League One side.
Deep down, in our heart of hearts, we know we’re there. It’s not me being arrogant, it’s just the lead we have is surely enough to take us out of this division and into the third tier.
From the inside looking out, it’s still a worry. What if we lose seven on the bounce? What if we stop winning? What if…. you could go on forever. History tells us very few sides in our position have failed to be promoted automatically. By very few, I mean one.
That doesn’t stop us looking at the fixture list and wondering what might be needed to wrap up promotion. When can we do it? What needs to happen to give us League One football after the Cheltenham match? Can we wrap it up at MK Dons?
Do you need to tell the family to cancel Easter because you’ll be on a 72-hour promotion celebration bender?
Here’s all you need to know about the last six matches and what needs to happen for us to be promoted.
March 30th – MACCLESFIELD
Here’s the thing, we can’t be promoted this weekend. It’s not going to happen. Even if all of our rivals lost and we won, we wouldn’t have enough of a gap to claim promotion.
Still, this is a winnable game and a weekend which could be incredibly important to us. Why? Other club’s fixtures.
If we do want an early conclusion to the promotion race and we keep our side of the bargain with wins, then we need the others to drop points.
Tranmere, or as I know them ‘James Norwood and his supporting cast’, are firmly in this automatic promotion race now. They host Carlisle who have stumbled a little and a win keeps the pressure on those above.
Both Mansfield and MK Dons have huge matches this week. Mansfield travel to Exeter who will most likely be hunting a win for a play off spot, whilst MK Dons go to Forest Green. Neither are easy fixtures (although we beat both away from home) and it’s likely someone will drop points.
Bury host Swindon Town, another side possibly in the promotion hunt.
April 6th – MK DONS
We could be promoted as early as a week on Saturday, if things went our way. This article is assuming we’re picking up maximum points, unless stated. I know, it’s a big assumption, but the point is not to be arrogant but to give you the possible outcomes.
Bury travel to Carlisle on the day, meaning they’re in for a tough afternoon. Mansfield host Cambridge and they’d hope to have won their fixture, but it wouldn’t matter if they’d dropped three points the week before. Tranmere go to Newport.
By this time, Tranmere will have played their game in hand against Oldham Athletic and Bury will have played theirs against Cambridge.
If Mansfield have also been beaten in one of their matches and we win at MK Dons, we’ll be in the top three for definite. We’d have 85 points, MK Dons would have a maximum of 72 depending on their result at Forest Green.
Mansfield, beaten at least once would still be on a maximum of 69, leaving us 16 points clear with 15 still to play for. Likewise Tranmere, who we would need to have lost one of those three fixtures to drop three from their possible nine, would be on 70, 15 behind us. However, with a goal difference of 19 currently, there’s little chance they’d overtake us.
April 13th – CHELTENHAM
Okay, this is where things start to get complicated, so I’ll try to break it down a little more clearly.
On the day, Bury host Colchester, Mansfield are at Northampton and MK Dons clash with Tranmere. That’s a huge match and it’s crucial that one of those teams could drop points.
We’ll be promoted on April 13th if we’ve won all three of those fixtures. In that instance we’ll be on 88. That means even if Tranmere have won all four matches, they’ll only be on 76 with four game left, meaning they could draw level. However, Mansfield’s maximum haul at this stage would be 75 points, with four to play they couldn’t catch us.
We’d have beaten MK Dons, so they too would be on a maximum of 75. If they’d beaten Tranmere that is, if not they’d be on fewer, so only Tranmere and Bury could catch us at this stage.
From there the different permutations for us have dropped points become far too numerous to mention, but if we’d picked up seven from nine, then in order to be promoted we’d need the others to drop the same points, ie Mansfield to draw at Exeter if we draw with Macclesfield, etc.
Confused? You should be.
Also, technically, we could win the title as early as this. If (and it is a big if for a team unbeaten since Boxing Day) Bury were to lose three of their four matches in between now and this game, and we were to win our three, we’d be on 88 and they’d be on a maximum of 74 with twelve to play for. Even if they won one, drew one and lost two, with us getting maximum points, we’d be champions as they’d have 75 and we’d have 88.
From here I’m not second guessing anything, but the next page gives you who plays who on those final fixtures and the MOST amount of points a team could have on that day.