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The run-in

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1 Oct 2005
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Alan King, Barry Dyson
I know I probably shouldn't, but I'm looking ahead at our remaining fixtures and trying to forecast how we might finish the season. It's a dangerous pastime, but I couldn't resist.

The table is beginning to become more static as the weeks progress. It looks like the current top four (Lincoln, Bury, Mansfield and MK Dons) will be fighting out the automatic promotion places. Only six points separate the next eight clubs (Exeter, Rovers, FGR, Colchester, Carlisle, Swindon, Stevenage and Newport) and I see these as the only realistic challengers for the other three play-off positions. The mid-table sides (Oldham, Grimsby, Crewe and Northampton) probably have too much to do to get promoted and look to be safe from relegation, so their season is effectively over. Any two of the bottom eight are in danger of dropping to the NL, although the bottom four look in the most trouble given their position and current form.

So, where does that leave our prospects? Well, the next three matches - all against mid-table sides, two at home and one at Oldham - look winnable and I think we have to get at least six or seven points. Following that, we have three games against play-off rivals followed by very tough games against MK Dons, FGR, Lincoln and Bury. We finish at Crawley, who hopefully will be safe and relaxed by then. So, it's a very challenging run-in (especially April). The key will be the next six matches. We need most of the points in the next three games and not to drop many points in the next three "six pointers". The next four will be very tough and realistically we can expect only a handful of points. So, I think it may go to the wire.

I think if we can stay fit and well disciplined, we can make the top seven. Then it will be a lottery, but with our experience of playing in the play-offs for the last two seasons we must have a good chance.
 
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Jason Koumas
If we were to win the next three matches - a tall order, even against mid table sides - automatic promotion might even be a possibility.

However, I am basically going to try and enjoy the run-in and not get too despondent about setbacks. Few people expected us to be in this position seven months ago and we are under nowhere near the same pressure to achieve promotion as we were in the last three seasons.

My gut feeling is that if Norwood stays fit, we will make the play-offs. We have got enough depth in the squad now to cover injuries elsewhere, unless we lose four or five key players.
 
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bigmart

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We have done well against most of the top sides this season and there is nothing to suggest this cannot continue, however we just need to focus on the next game and not look too far ahead
 
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Already over 1,000 tickets sold for the Oldham game a week on Saturday. If we win the two coming home matches it will probably be a 2,000 plus following at Boundary Park.
 
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We have done well against most of the top sides this season and there is nothing to suggest this cannot continue, .....
I wish I could agree, Mart. We beat Lincoln but only have gained 5 points out of 15 (one-third) against the top four. Against our play-off rivals we have earned just under half the points. Against the lower teams, our record is 60%. Unfortunately, once we have played the next three games, the next seven are against our rivals. The final game at Crawley is the only one out of the last eight that is against a team in the bottom half. Basically, the matches get tougher as the run-in progresses. Yes, we could start beating these top teams, but I could not imagine a more difficult end to the season.
 

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That is true BBTC although against Bury we should/ could have had a hatful but then Lincoln had plenty of chances. Most of those games however were before the January window and our squad is much improved after that. After all Banks who was the go to man before is on the bench now!! All that said personally I think we will do well to stay in a play off position. Yes we should aim high but we have been generally been inconsistent throughout the season. We won on Saturday but we were under the cosh in the second half and on another day they would have scored a couple. I still feel that playing Norwood up front alone is not ideal - yes I know why we are doing it but I would still prefer 2 up top as against the better teams we will likely need to score more than 1 to win. A play off spot would still be an excellent result and then let's hope we get lucky in the lottery of the play offs...
 
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We should have scored a couple ourselves in the first half on Saturday, so I don't think it was a fortunate win. Jennings and Norwood are both in fantastic form and working well as a pair, so there is no reason to break that partnership up. When we come under pressure in games now we are also defending far better than earlier in the season, which again is not down to luck. However, I agree that our form against the top sides in the first half of the season will have little bearing on the next few weeks, as we have a much stronger squad now. Since we strengthened in late January we certainly have not been inconsistent.
 
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bigmart

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We beat the best team, Lincoln, there is no reason we cant beat the others and our squad is considerable stronger now than it was
 
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