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  • Billy Wooldridge

League 1: End of Season Review

As seen in Cheltenham vs Fleetwood Matchday Programme 13/02/2022

Automatic Promotion


Automatic promotion for Paul Warne’s Rotherham United seems a certain if his team can continue their stellar form for the final third of the season. With 16 goals in League 1, Michael Smith has been the standout player for The Millers, who currently sit top of the league, 9 points clear of third.


Before Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday , Wigan Athletic where unbeaten in the league since October, after only just scrapping survival at the end of last season. They sit second, 9 points behind Rotherham with 3 games in hand and will certainly be aiming for a title push. .


MK Dons and Sunderland will also be looking to fight for the automatic places for the remainder of the season, currently sitting in third and fourth retrospectively. The recent arrival of veteran Jermain Defoe will give the Black Cats a boost after a heavy 6-0 defeat to Bolton followed by 2-1 losses to both Doncaster Rovers and then Cheltenham Town, however the recent sacking of Lee Johnson has opened the possible arrival of Roy Keane into the vacant role.


The final two realistic automatic promotion chasers Oxford United and Wycombe Wanderers will have a real task on their hands if they want to avoid the play-offs. Karl Robinson’s Oxford side will be looking to continue their great goalscoring form of late, scoring 13 in their last 5 matches, including last month’s 7-2 victory over Gillingham. However Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe will certainly be focusing on keeping a hold of their play-off spot after recent loses to Morecambe and MK Dons.


Play-Off


Onto the sides looking to scrape into the play-off spots, Sheffield Wednesday currently sit seventh on 52 points but still need to play both Rotherham and MK Dons who sit at the top of the table after victory over Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night.


Plymouth Argyle will be looking to put an end to their recent poor form if they are to make it into the play-offs. With only two wins in their last six games, Steven Schumacher’s men will be looking to burst back onto the scene after taking Chelsea to extra-time in the FA Cup 4th round, before a late Marcos Alonso winner.


Kieran McKenna’s Ipswich Town are arguably the last side with realistic chances of making it into the finals play-off spots. They currently sit six points off sixth placed Wycombe and will be hoping QPR loanee Macauley Bonne will be able to re kindle his start of season form as he currently sits on 12 goals in the league, with none in his last five.


Mid Table


Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic will both be looking to continue their positive recent runs in the league, unbeaten in their last five matches before going head to head on Tuesday night, with The Trotters coming out 2-1 winners. However the positive form may have arrived too little too late for Ian Evatt and Johnnie Jacksons’ side’s as they both sit 11 and 14 points of the play-off spots.


Four more sides who sit too far away from the play-off spots, but also have a safety cushion from the bottom four are Burton Albion, Portsmouth, Cambridge United and Accrington Stanley. Aside from a few recent wins for Burton, all four sides will need to make sure they better their recent form to steer clear of a nervy end to the season. However Portsmouth battled to a big 2-1 win at home to Burton to leapfrog Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s side into 11th.


Lower Third


Shrewsbury Town currently sit 18th in the table without a win in their last six league games. It’s set to be a tough road to survival for Steve Cotterill’s men who still have to play the likes of Wigan, MK Dons, Sunderland and Rotherham. However they have a 5-point cushion on the drop zone and will be looking to prevent that gap from getting any smaller.


Ex-Burnley defender Michael Duff will certainly be using some of his playing day experience to guide his Cheltenham Town side away from the troubles of a relegation scrap as they currently sit in 16th after a massive 2-1 victory over Sunderland on Tuesday night. The recent loanee singing of Aaron Ramsey from Aston Villa and Kion Etete will certainly give the Robins a boast as they host Fleetwood in this afternoons tie.


17th and 19th placed Lincoln City and Fleetwood Town both sit in similar positions, five and two points of the drop zone retrospectively and will certainly be in the relegation battle come the end of the season. Lincoln top scorer Anthony Scully (8 goals) and Fleetwood’s top scorer Gerard Garner (7 goals) will both certainly be called upon if their sides are to stand a chance at clearing the drop.


20th placed AFC Wimbledon will have to get back to winning ways if they want to remain in League 1 come next season, failing to win in any of their last 12 games in all competitions. The recent departure of striker Ollie Palmer came as a shock to many as he joined National League outfit Wrexham for a fee of £300,000, we at Cheltenham Town would know a thing or two about how that feels.


Relegation Zone


Even though they sit at the top of the relegation zone on 29 points, Morecambe do hold the leagues joint top scorer this season in Cole Stockton with 18 goals. He will certainly be key if the Shrimps are to survive the season, and with them only sitting a point away from safety as things stand, it isn’t an impossibility just yet.


However speaking of impossibilities, things are looking very bleak for the bottom three. Doncaster Rovers, Gillingham and Crewe Alexandra, all remain eight points from safety, five points for Gillingham, and with around 13 games to play, it would be one of the greatest escapes the league has seen if one of these three end the season above the drop zone. Recent form for Doncaster has given them a shot in the dark at survival after wins against top of the table sides MK Dons and Sunderland. The Rovers also host both Gillingham and Crewe before the end of the season, and with the relatively new appointment of Gary McSheffrey, there may still be a chance at survival for the side at the foot of the table.

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