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League Two

Sammy McIlroy's Blog 36

24 April 2013

I think it's safe to predict that whatever happens on Saturday on the final day of the npower League 2 season, we're guaranteed even more drama, and twists and turns. It's already been an unbelievable year and with the way the table looks at the moment, there are just so many possibilities and permutations at both the top and at the bottom.

I really can't remember a season like it. To have seven sides still threatened by relegation is remarkable while the battle for the remaining two automatic promotion places is going down to the wire as well. Saturday is going to give more than one manager a few palpitations but from a neutral point of view, it's going to make for an unmissable afternoon of football.

Looking at the sides at the wrong end of the table, it's obvious that Aldershot Town and AFC Wimbledon are in the most trouble and find themselves with the double whammy of having to win and rely on results elsewhere going their way.

The bad news for the Shots is they have to go to the New York Stadium to face Rotherham United this weekend. The Millers have to win to secure automatic promotion and although miracles do happen, I just can't see Andy Scott's getting the three points they need.

Wimbledon have home advantage on Saturday against Fleetwood Town. They'll get a decent crowd at Kingsmeadow and the Cod Army don't have anything to play for, so the Dons have got more than a chance of putting pressure on the sides above them. It's got to be three points in the bag and pray the pressure gets to the likes of Barnet, Dagenham and Redbridge or York City.

The Bees will still be on a high after their dramatic send-off at Underhill on Saturday when they beat Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 in their final ever game at the ground but Barnet have been so unpredictable and inconsistent this season and that would worry me as they prepare to play Northampton Town at Sixfields.

The key clash could be Dagenham and Redbridge against York City at Victoria Road. Goal difference means the Minstermen will be happy with a draw but the Daggers need to win to be sure and they have to go for it. Torquay United and Plymouth Argyle are technically not safe yet but it really would need a bizarre set of results to see either side dragged down.

At the top, Burton Albion would need to score a haul of goals against the champions Gillingham to gatecrash the top three, so we're really looking at two from Port Vale, Rotherham United and Cheltenham Town, to spare themselves the potential agony of the Play-Offs.

On paper, Cheltenham have the toughest game on Saturday, playing Bradford City at Whaddon Road. Vale go to Wycombe, who let's be honest will have half a mind on their summer holidays, while Rotherham will back themselves to beat Aldershot at home.

I know Bradford are already guaranteed a Play-Off place but they'll still give the Robins a battle. They've shown real character to bounce back from their exploits in the Capital One Cup and Phil Parkinson will be desperate to go into the Play-Offs on the back of a win and the confidence that generates.

Cheltenham may win but I'm backing both Vale and the Millers to get at least point each which for Rotherham will be enough to take them up automatically courtesy of their superior goal difference.

I'll be following all the games at Sky Sports News and while there's part of me that wishes I was on a touchline in the thick of it, I'm also relieved I won't have to go through all the highs and lows. There'll be a few parties on Saturday night but inevitably they'll be managers and players who are drowning their sorrows rather than celebrating.

All the managers will of course be insisting that they're focusing on nothing else but their own games this weekend but that's rubbish. Once the games kick-off on Saturday, everyone in the grounds, in the dugout and out on the pitch will be listening out for updates from the other relevant matches.

It's quite a bizarre situation for the players. For the rest of the season, they really do focus on their own matches but the final game when you're staring down the barrel of relegation or in contention for promotion is unique.

Some players are affected more than others but it is impossible not to hear about goals from other grounds. The news spreads through so instantaneously through the crowd and within seconds of something happening, the players know. It's how they react, especially when it is bad news, that can make all the difference.

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