Tuesday night's 3-2 win for Macclesfield Town over Exeter City now means that all of the teams in the bottom half of the League Two table have now played an equal number of games, with only one pair of mid-table sides still having a game in hand over their rivals - a scenario more relevant to the final play-off places, than the relegation slots.
Whilst it is possible that other teams could get caught up in problems during the final five fixtures, it's highly likely that the bottom two positions will be contested by up to four clubs. Whilst most of the bookies and pundits mention only Notts County, Macclesfield Town and Yeovil Town, we'd be careful to not entirely discount Crawley Town, who currently lie in 21st place, and six points off the bottom. Given they still have to face both Yeovil and Notts County, if they were to lose both matches, then they would get dragged into trouble. Crawley are also one of the teams in the division who are badly out of form, having not won in their last five matches - any extension of that run would see them drop dangerously close to the bottom two.
The current League Two table shows that Yeovil Town and Notts County must better the points tally of sides above them to get out of trouble, meaning that the upper hand lies with Crawley and Macclesfield at present. The run-in that each team will face over the next five games is as follows (in date order) with the table position of their opponents shown in brackets:
CRAWLEY TOWN (21st)
Yeovil Town (23rd) vs Crawley Town
Exeter City (7th) vs Crawley Town
Crawley Town vs Notts County (24th)
Carlisle United (8th) vs Crawley Town
Crawley Town vs Tranmere Rovers (5th)
MACCLESFIELD TOWN (22nd)
Forest Green Rovers (6th) vs Macclesfield Town
Northampton Town (14th) vs Macclesfield Town
Macclesfield Town vs Newport County (13th)
Port Vale (18th) vs Macclesfield Town
Macclesfield Town vs Cambridge United (20th)
YEOVIL TOWN (23rd)
Yeovil Town vs Crawley Town (21st)
Crewe Alexandra vs (15th) Yeovil Town
Yeovil Town vs Colchester United (9th)
Northampton Town (14th) vs Yeovil Town
Yeovil Town vs Carlisle United (8th)
NOTTS COUNTY (24th)
Crewe Alexandra (15th) vs Notts County
Notts County vs Milton Keynes Dons (3rd)
Crawley Town (21st) vs Notts County
Notts County vs Grimsby Town (17th)
Swindon Town (10th) vs Notts County
Whilst there is no perfect way of determining how hard/easy a run-in a team may have, there are a couple of factors that can be used. One is the average table position of their opponents. Using this method, we find that Macclesfield Town have a slightly easier run-in, with an average table position of 14.2. But there's not a lot in it, with Notts County 13.2 Yeovil Town 13.4 and Crawley Town 13.4 having almost identical strength teams to play.
The other consideration is which clubs play the most teams with something to play for. It can probably be assumed that the teams between 11th and 20th will not be involved in any play-offs or relegation scraps, and are probably turning attention towards the summer and next season for their plans. However, those with matches against play-off chasing teams or relegation threatened teams may find they face a significant battle on the pitch. Using this method, Yeovil Town play three such teams in their five matches, Notts County face two teams with something to play for, whilst Macclesfield play only one. However, all five of Crawley Town's matches are against teams either going for promotion, or trying to avoid relegation, meaning that they will be guaranteed five ultra-competitive games.
If you prefer to look at the Form Tables, then that's probably not pretty reading for either Yeovil Town or Crawley Town. Whilst Macclesfield and Notts County are showing roughly midtable form over the last ten matches, the Glovers and their Saturday opponents are both struggling for form at the foot of that table. However, Yeovil will hope that the belated decision to change first team managers for the final seven games will give them a mini-boost in the closing stages. There is also an argument to suggest that whilst they do face two very difficult games against play-off chasing Carlisle United and Colchester United, that neither team is particularly high up on the form table, meaning that by the time they face those sides, their attempts to break back into the top seven may have waned a touch.
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