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League Two

Sammy McIlroy's Blog 35

17 April 2013

The journeys Aldershot Town and AFC Wimbledon went through to proudly reclaim their npower Football League status were incredible. Both clubs did it the hard way. Starting again, as low as they could be, they somehow made it back to where they belong.

Now, with just two games left to play, there's a real danger both could fall devastatingly through the dreaded trap door.

It really is looking bleak for the Shots. They need six points, and for others to slip up. Hand on heart I think it will be a miracle if they avoided relegation to the Conference.
Their demise proves that you can never take your eye off the ball in npower League 2.

It only seems five minutes ago that Dean Holdsworth was taking the club forward, rejecting overtures from bigger clubs because he believed the future was bright for him and the Hampshire club. Last season especially, they were excellent.

Dean's since been replaced by Andy Scott and the downturn hasn't been fixed. Just one win in their last 10 games just hasn't been enough; even though they've picked up five decent draws in that spell.

Wimbledon are not safe yet either, and that must be a worry for the fans. For the second year in a row they've simply conceded far too many goals, and with Gillingham, their next opponents, needing a point to land the title on Saturday, it could easily go down to a final day shoot-out.

Aldershot and AFC Wimbledon have enjoyed remarkable resurrections, but all that hard work could be undone with relegation.

There are no guarantees that either would be back in a hurry either, because the Conference is a nightmare league to get out of. It's so competitive, filled with clubs of a similar standing who are big enough to play in the Football League.

On the plus side, fans of Plymouth Argyle are probably breathing a little easier this week on the back of a terrific 2-1 win at Chesterfield.

John Sheridan will have been smiling from ear to ear at beating the club who sacked him a short while ago, and those three points might just be enough to save them.

Neil Warnock said this week that he believes Argyle can reach the Premier League club if they get their act together. I wouldn't go quite that far, but they really should be an npower Championship outfit given the size and stature of the club.

If they can get the finances sorted, and enjoy excellent management on and off the pitch, they are capable of being an unstoppable force in the lower leagues. Things could easily take off for them.

Up at the top, it looks like a straight fight between Rotherham United and Burton Albion for the third automatic promotion place.

I can't praise Gary Rowett highly enough for the job he's done at the Pirelli Stadium. Last season they were fortunate to stay up, and I tipped them to struggle again, but it's been a brilliant campaign for the Brewers. They are undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the season.

That said, I found it strange that the club admitted this week they might lose their highly-rated young manager if somebody comes in for him.

Okay that might be true, and they probably do have a cap on what they can offer him, but to send that message out at this vitally important stage was a little odd, I thought.

I know that clubs the size of Burton Albion have to temper their ambitions, but there's no need to panic about potential outlays before anything has been decided. They're not up yet, and they haven't had an offer for their manager yet to my knowledge, so for them to say that publicly didn't make a lot of sense to me.

Finally, I must say how sad I am about Portsmouth's relegation to npower League 2. It will be great to have them, and they'll be a major asset, but to think how quickly they've fallen is staggering.

Since winning the FA Cup in 2008 they've been hurtling down a ski slope at 100mph.

With a bit of luck they'll begin an upturn next season at this level. Their fans deserve something to cheer.

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