Two to go
January 1, 2000
The Easter programme is often seen as the defining set of fixtures as far as promotion and relegation is concerned.
In this League One season the fate of teams with ambitions at the top and of those desperate to avoid the dreaded drop at the bottom looks likely to go right to the wire. With two games to go, only two clubs know that they will be going on to play their football in another division next season.
Brighton are up and away with 94 points already in the bag from 44 matches. There is little doubt that the South Coast will be going all out to win the last two games and to take their points tally to a remarkable 100. Easter was not good for Gus Poyet’s men, with a home defeat against Southampton and an away point at mid table Colchester; expect a reaction.
One thing about the Web is that post match reaction reports and quotes are instant and often without reservation. This from the two managers respectively:
“Southampton have good individuals and they were individually stronger and better than us. When you look back in 10 years time at who won the championship this year it was Brighton playing football and passing the ball – not kicking it into the box.”
Just goes to show how much a result can hurt even when you have already secured the title. Mind you, Southampton’s Nigel Adkins seemed to back up the statement:
“They put their best team out, so that was interesting. I just thought there was something coming and the shape we set up nullified them greatly.”
So why would Brighton not put their best team out I ask? Can’t see anything particularly interesting in that and it was all about nullifying them; now that is interesting.
The other club with knowledge of their fate are Swindon Town. Our West Country rivals have fallen rapidly from Wembley hopefuls last season to the table props this. No doubt the Town fans will have strong views for the reasons. As a relative bystander it seems to me that you cannot take goals out of a team and hope to continue in the same vein. Two defeats over the holiday period saw the Robins fall into League Two.
Swindon manager Paul Hart had this to say following the home defeat to Notts County.
“I thought we played very well in the first half. There was only one team in it. We just needed that second goal.”
Just as I was saying and then, following the Sheffield game:
“Sheffield Wednesday have had four attempts at goal and scored three. That’s the big difference. It’s been a tough old season but I maintain there’s a great opportunity to rebuild the football club.”
Quite so, it is all about scoring goals in the end and as far rebuilding goes, well I hope so. It will be interesting to see who is going to be given the task.
At the top it’s down to Saints and Huddersfield to fight it out for the right to join Brighton in The Championship next season.
Huddersfield scrapped home against The Daggers, by all accounts, and the Terriers Managers Lee Clark had this to say: “It wasn’t one of our better performances but we march on and I think the fans would rather take that today than us being on scintillating form and either drawing or losing the game.”
Smacks of Southampton but yes, at this stage the fans probable only concern is for three points.
Our old friend John Still had this to say. “The games left are tough games and this is an unbelievably tough league.”
Dagenham go to Peterborough on the last day and, yes, it looks like another tough one for John and his team.
Relegation candidates Walsall moved out of the bottom four but only just having conceded a second half lead away to Oldham Athletic. This came after another draw at home to Sheffield Wednesday on the Saturday.
Saddlers boss Dean Smith had this to say on Walsall’s official Website:
“I was disappointed that we couldn’t keep the ball better when they were reduced to ten men and then to concede so late was a blow.”
So there we are then. We are not the only ones who find it difficult to play against ten men from time to time. Walsall also have a couple of tough games to conclude their programme with a home game against tough tackling Charlton before going down to face Southampton at St Mary’s.
It is all to play for as we recover from last weekend in terms of results, injuries and suspensions. The players that have come in to the Rovers side have done well and showed a good spirit.
It was good to see Wayne Brown back in contention in both the Easter fixtures. Cams had this to say on the official club Website.
“Since I have taken over, he was injured at first but day in day out in training he has gradually got fitter, stronger and sharper.”
Two goals in two games backs up those sentiments perfectly. Well done Wayne.