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Town fan Nick Judd predicts a nail-biting end to the season for Swindon...
It appears as though the relegation fight in League One is going to go right to the final day of the season.
Like the Premier League, where the North East is witnessing a battle royale of their own to see who stays up, it’s tighter than a snare drum down in the third tier, with 10 teams involved.
I was so close to the edge of my seat I was almost sat on the head of the chap in front of me during last Saturday’s 0-0 stalemate against Crewe. And I wasn’t the only one, the crowd were gripped by the same fear.
It was all looking so much rosier for Swindon a fortnight ago. Three consecutive victories – two against sides around us, Hereford and Northampton – saw us edge out of the bottom four and climb up to the dizzy heights of 15th.
But then we lost to Yeovil, who went on to win again against Northampton, before drawing at Stockport.
Four clean sheets propel Terry Skiverton's Glovers
“It was just like the old thing about London buses - I waited seven games for a win, and then two came along at once,” laughed their manager Terry Skiverton.
The fact that both Swindon and Yeovil scraped together consecutive victories – when neither side had done so since January – means that any team is capable of doing the same, and I worry if we’ve peaked too soon!
Our run-in sees us play all three teams down in the dogfight – including Orient, who currently have the fifth best record from the last eight games – plus rivals Bristol Rovers, who’ll need no invitation to help send us down, and Peterborough who are battling for automatic promotion.
Yet we’re not the only ones with a terrifying run-in:
Leyton Orient (15th)Colchester (11th), Swindon (18th), Northampton (21st), Millwall (3rd), Huddersfield (12th)
Yeovil (17th)Millwall (3rd), Cheltenham (24th), Hartlepool (16th), Hereford (23rd), Tranmere (7th), Colchester (11th)
Swindon (18th)Brighton (22nd), Leyton Orient (15th), Carlisle (19th), Bristol Rovers (14th), Peterborough (2nd)
Hartlepool (16th)Crewe (20th), Scunthorpe (6th), Yeovil (17th), Leeds (5th), Bristol Rovers (14th)
Carlisle (19th)Oldham (9th), Huddersfield (12th), Swindon (18th), Cheltenham (24th), Millwall (3rd)
Crewe (20th)Hartlepool (16th), Oldham (9th), Cheltenham (24th), Stockport (10th), Leicester (1st)
Northampton (21st)Southend (8th), Leyton Orient (15th), Scunthorpe (6th), Hereford (23rd), MK Dons (4th), Leeds (5th)
Brighton (22nd)Swindon (18th), Colchester (11th), Oldham (9th), Bristol Rovers (14th), Huddersfield (12th), Stockport (10th)
Hereford (23rd)Leicester (1st), Tranmere (7th), Colchester (11th), Yeovil (17th), Northampton (21st), MK Dons (4th)
Cheltenham (24th)Peterborough (2nd), Yeovil (17th), Crewe (20th), Carlisle (19th), Scunthorpe (6th), Southend (8th)
‘Six-pointers’ aplenty, then. With every team involved playing sides at both ends of the table, there are going to be more twists and turns than a rollercoaster.
The consensus among Town fans at the final whistle last Saturday was that the bottom three: Cheltenham, Hereford and Brighton, have already ‘gone’, but that we could quite easily become the fourth.
Cheltenham boss Martin Allen agrees his side “are probably not going to get enough points to stay up,” while Brighton defender Andrew Whing seems to be preparing for Barnet away already.
“It is going to be difficult," he said. "It's looking like we need four or five wins to have any chance of staying in this division.” They won at Hereford on Tuesday night, and face us on Saturday…
Allen: Expecting the worst for his unreliant Robins
As for that fourth spot for the drop, I’m going to plump for Northampton. The nature of their 4-3 defeat against the Robins was a killer blow, and they face MK Dons and Leeds in the denouement.
So Swindon to stay up, then? I think so, but it might not be our doing…
Some run-in stats:
Hereford, Brighton, Carlisle and Hartlepool have all won just once in the last eight games.
Swindon and Orient are the form teams at the bottom. Orient have won five of the last eight, Town three.
Carlisle haven’t won at home in the last five games. Yeovil haven’t won away in the same period.
Swindon boast the best record of the teams at the bottom against those in the top half, winning six games. Cheltenham, Hereford, Northampton and Carlisle have the worst.
Town have the worst record against teams in the bottom half of the table, winning four of 18 encounters.
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