With no less than thirteen sides all perilously close to the trap door, this year’s battle for safety promises to go down to the wire in what may yet be one of the most intriguing of all time.
Bradford and Rochdale look to be in real trouble and are favourites for the drop according to wagering sites like BetEasy where you’ll find the latest League One odds. Bradford lost a key relegation battle at Oxford in controversial circumstances last week and that result may just have been the final nail in the coffin for the struggling Yorkshire outfit.
Had the bottom-placed Bantams appointed Gary Bowyer earlier, they might have had a stronger chance of staying up, but a six-point gulf with eight games to play may now be insurmountable.
Rochdale will have been cursing the fact Accrington’s pitch was under inches of water having picked up four points out of six under caretaker boss Brian Barry Murphy. Long serving Keith Hill was sacked recently and has sparked a mini revival for the side with the leakiest defence in the league, but they will need to defeat Scunthorpe this weekend if they are serious about beating the drop.
Stuart McCall’s Scunthorpe are also in the mix at the wrong end of the table. Having started to pull clear in January, the wheels have somewhat come off in recent weeks and defeats to Gillingham and Bristol have not helped their cause.
With key games against Rochdale, Wimbledon and Shrewsbury coming up, they can ill afford to drop points against any more relegation rivals. The 4-1 win over Southendprovided welcome respite, but was soon forgotten as they crashed to a 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth last weekend.
Improving Walsall (21st) and Plymouth (12th) are separated by a remarkable gap of just three points meaning if any club can put together back to back wins in the next few weeks, they stand a good chance of clawing their way to safety.
One such team are Wally Downes’ Wimbledon, who looked dead and buried to most just a few weeks ago. The Womlbeshave given themselves a great chance of survival with three wins on the spin and have suddenly regained ‘momentum’ at the perfect time. With wing-backs Toby Sibbick and Steve Seddon impressing in recent weeks, the likeable Downes has found a winning formula at just the right time and you wouldn’t bet against them pulling away from the relegation zone having
Things are not looking as good for Southend and Wycombe. The Shrimpers, who have been hugely destabilised this season by injuries were thumped by Scunthorpe last Tuesday and there are now question marks over manager Chris Powell’s future at the club with reports suggesting he may be on his way out at Roots Hall following a dire set of results.
The freefalling Shrimpers would be our pick for the drop along with Shrewsbury, who have scored just six goals in open play in their last 13 League One encounters and are failing to replicate the form that saw them lead the way in the division for most of last season under Paul Hurst.
Meanwhile Wycombe have some of the worst form in the division and are looking over their shoulder as we enter late March.