Two that can affect our promotion push
Northampton v Oxford
We only want this to go one way, Cobblers’ win. They’re a side we have done the double over already, but they have picked up as late, with two wins and a draw in their last five. They were beaten by Crewe this weekend though, which wouldn’t have been a complete disaster were margins not so tight. Two points separate Rochdale who are bottom and Bristol Rovers in 19th, making this a must-win for Northampton. They emphatically thrashed Portsmouth 4-1 in early March, and held Doncaster ten days ago, so they have a result in them.
If Oxford do win, it will take them to within six points of us, albeit on the same number of matches. We still have to go to their place, this weekend, so the last thing we want is to go there knowing the gap could be closed to three points. A draw would leave them eight points behind us on the same games, an altogether more acceptable position. I thought they’d be in the top six this season, but defeat against Blackpool this weekend was not a surprise, not because of the visitor’s excellent form either, but because of Oxford’s.
In the two months between December 15th and February 14th, Oxford only dropped points in one game, against Doncaster, but since February 20th they have won just two. Aside from the 3-0 thrashing of Doncaster last Tuesday, they have struggled for goals too, scoring just three since Valentine’s Day. That bodes well for us this weekend, especially if the more resolute side of Northampton’s game comes to the fore this evening
They need this win because after it they have us, Sunderland, and then Accrington on Easter Monday, three games which could end their season. At least going into that run with three points would keep their dreams alive. Remember, they might be a bit behind us, but a win tonight would take them sixth if Blackpool don’t beat Peterborough, and even if Posh do lose, Oxford could go sixth by improving their goal difference by two more than Blackpool manage.
SW Predicts – Away Win
Blackpool v Peterborough
I’m caught in two minds about this one. On one hand, if we feel the top two is still on for us, then we should be hoping for a Blackpool win. If we think we’re looking to cement a finish between third and sixth, then a Peterborough win is the best outcome. Posh are currently four points ahead of us with a game in hand, so if they were to win it would be a seven-point gap with ten matches to go. Even assuming we could get a win there and close that to four points, our form would need to improve to haul them in. If Blackpool win, it takes them to 56 points, just six behind us, but with two games in hand. Remember, they are tenth right now, which demonstrates how we’ve been pulled into the chasing pack, almost.
My gut feeling is a draw for this one, which I suppose would be the best outcome. It would leave Posh five points clear, leaving two points to make up if we envisaged winning at theirs. It would leave Blackpool with two games in hand, but with eight points to make up. Remember, we still have them to play as well, so just as quickly as we’re hoping to catch Posh, they could catch us. The form guide has Neil Critchley’s side fourth, with four wins and four draws from eight, with Posh sixth, two points behind. Over eight matches, we’re 22nd by the way. I know the only form guide which matters is the 46-game form guide, but I do hope we can arrest this current blip on the back of a great performance at Sunderland.