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League One

Andy Ritchie's Blog 35

17 April 2013

The Johnson family must be glad that the match between Oldham Athletic and Yeovil Town is out of the way. I can't imagine how hard it was for dad Gary to pit his wits against son Lee, in a match that was undeniably crucial to both of them.

In spite of the smiles and the banter shared through the press, it couldn't have been that comfortable, but I thought father and son handled the situation really well. Once the pre-match handshake was done and dusted, it was time to get professional and both men seemed to have a real focus.

Judging by his post-match quotes, Gary Johnson was bitterly disappointed with Yeovil's performance.

It was a bigger, more important game for Oldham. They desperately needed the points and that might have been the difference on the night. With thoughts of dropping into the bottom four on their minds there was an edge about the Latics' play. Fear like that often provokes a positive reaction.

One more point will do it for my former side now. Judging by the joyous scenes in the stands it's clear the fans feel they're safe already, but Lee and his players won't be counting any chickens until it's mathematically assured.

After all they've been through this season, Oldham have had the dubious pleasure of relegating three clubs in the space of a few days. Portsmouth and Hartlepool United are now gone, alongside Bury who lost their status at the hands of Lee Johnson's men on Saturday.

I hate to say it, but I fear for Bury moving forwards. The club believe they're heading towards financial meltdown, requiring £1million to survive, and that's not going to be an easy amount to find in the current climate. Hopefully someone somewhere will make an investment in the club before it's too late.

Bury have a proud Football League tradition, and it wasn't that long ago that they were mixing it with the big boys in the Championship. Let's hope there is positive news around the corner for them.

Portsmouth's rebuilding process has to start in earnest now, too. Everyone there will be disappointed they've dropped into the fourth tier but at least the PST (Pompey Supporters Trust) now has the power in their own hands to bring about a change in their fortunes. Witnessing the mismanagement of recent owners, without being able to intervene must have been torture.

The mood is surprisingly good. Manager Guy Whittingham is staying very positive and providing the new board spend their money shrewdly, learning from the painful lessons of the past, I see no reason why Pompey can't begin their climb back up the ladder next season. They'll be missed in npower League 1, but I wish them well.

Up at the top, it's all getting rather tasty isn't it?

I think the top six is decided but where everybody is going to end up finishing is anybody's guess.

The Sheffield United and Brentford match at Bramall Lane this week just about summed up the drama of it all. Four penalties, three red cards, and a last-minute equaliser for the nine-man Bees, made for a really, rather interesting match.

I didn't see Danny Wilson's departure coming - I have to say that - but the Blades still have a shot at promotion under Chris Morgan.

As for Brentford, how vital will Bradley Wright-Phillips' 89th-minute leveller turn out to be? It's given them a serious shot at a top-two finish that's for sure. Claiming an unexpected point with nine men at one of your biggest rivals has to be a massive fillip.

With leaders Doncaster Rovers to play on the final day of the season, there is all to play for. Believe it or not there's an outside chance those two clubs could end up in a dead heat with the same points, goals scored, goals conceded and head-to-head record.

If I were managing any of the promotion protagonists I'd tell my players to go for it. There's no point being cagey and defensive, hoping for things to go your way. It's all about grasping the moment; seizing the opportunity.

npower League 1 is an absolute thriller this year, and the bravest teams will prevail. Two wins and dreams can become true.

We're in for 180 minutes of very, very exciting football.

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