theimps.ka
It's squeaky-bum-time down at the bottom
By Nathan Jackson
April 6 2010

The relegation battle took an interesting twist during the Easter weekend with Grimsby's turnaround victory at Accrington Stanley, a game which they were losing 2-0 at one point. It now means that the final five weeks of the season will be anything but comfortable for all the teams involved at the bottom.

 

LINCOLN'S RUN IN

Bournemouth (home)

Notts County (away)

Shrewsbury (away)

Bury (home)

Aldershot (away)

Macclesfield (home)

Interestingly the run in sees Lincoln, Torquay and Cheltenham all have similar games. All three face Bury, Aldershot and Notts County at various points, with Torquay hosting the free scoring Magpies on the final day of the season.

City and Torquay both have to play Macclesfield, whereas Cheltenham and Grimsby still have games against rock bottom Darlington. City and Cheltenham have away games at Shrewsbury to contend with. However, the six pointer could easily be at Blundell Park on the 17th as Grimsby play hosts to Torquay United.

Lincoln's run in is arguably the most difficult of the lot, facing two sides that are currently chasing automatic promotion and two more who are in the battle for the final Playoff places. I also wouldn't rule out Shrewsbury making a late bid for the Playoffs.

However, City arguably have the most winnable (on paper) game on the final day out of any of the teams involved in the relegation battle. The Imps have won the last five meetings between themselves and Macclesfield and you'd have to go back to the 2000/1 season to find the last Macclesfield win at Sincil Bank. However, they have shown improvement recently and I'd rather not go into the final game of the season knowing we need something from an improving Macclesfield side.

TORQUAY UNITED'S RUN IN

Rochdale (home)

Aldershot (away)

Grimsby (away)

Macclesfield (home)

Bury (away)

Notts County (home)

With Torquay United's run in, you must say that the game at Grimsby would be a must win as they have some very difficult games. They face table topping Rochdale at the weekend, whilst Aldershot's Recreation Ground is one of the most difficult places in the division to go and get a result, as is Gigg Lane.

It could easily come down to the final day for Torquay and I certainly wouldn't want to be going into a home game against Notts County needing a win to stay up.

CHELTENHAM'S RUN IN

Bury (home)

Shrewsbury (away)

Rotherham (away)

Darlington (home)

Aldershot (home)

Notts County (away)

Accrington (home)

Cheltenham are probably the favourites to escape the relegation battle first. Six points over Easter pushed the gap to Grimsby to seven points, and Cheltenham have a game in hand over everyone else in the relegation battle.

With winnable games against Darlington and Accrington at home, Cheltenham should realistically be safe, but they'll need to make sure they win those games as you can't see them picking up many other points from the other games they have.

GRIMSBY'S RUN IN

Hereford (away)

Chesterfield (home)

Torquay (home)

Darlington (away)

Barnet (home)

Burton (away)

Although there's no such thing as an easy game when you're down at the bottom, Grimsby will be looking at their remaining six fixtures with optimism. Other than a difficult home game against Chesterfield, every match they have is winnable.

Hereford United are due not to win after a mini-winning spell has propelled them to the joys of lower-midtable safety, whereas the aforementioned game against Torquay will be massive. Darlington away will be a great chance for them to pick up maximum points, leaving them to face an unpredictable Barnet side at home.....and then a tricky trip to Burton.

 

Realistically the favourites to go down are still Grimsby. They've only won six all season and they need a minimum of three victories to stand a realistic chance of staying up. However, given their come-back against Accrington and that they have the "easiest" run in, you wouldn't bet against them.

Cheltenham will probably be safe, meaning that Torquay and the Imps will be the most vunerable if Grimsby do catch up. It really is anyone's guess as to whom will go down.

I think City realistically need six more points to guarantee safety. With a nine point gap over Grimsby and a superior goal difference, six more points would pretty much force Grimsby to win all of their remaining games to send us down. The only question is where will those six points come from?

City rarely beat Bournemouth and haven't beaten Bury anywhere since January 1st 2005. However, we do travel to grounds in which we have recent good records. We've won on our last two visits to Notts County and haven't lost at Shrewsbury since the year 2000, a run that includes 5 victories and 2 draws.

It all comes down to two or three questions really;

1) Will Grimsby actually reach the 43 points that City at currently at?

2) If they do, where will City be in comparison when Grimsby reach 43 points?

3) Can City get the six points that would realistically be enough in most situations?

 

You wouldn't want to bet on anything just yet and you get a feeling that the relegation battle has several twists and turns to come yet. It could easily all come down to that Grimsby vs Torquay match.