It has been well noted this season that many European leagues have lacked competition, and teams have ran away with the titles and overall they have been fairly uncompetitive. League Two, though, is contrary to that, especially the relegation battle. With five sides locked in at 40 points, it ‘crunch time’ to stay in the Football League.
Torquay are a side that didn’t expect to be dragged into a relegation fight, after just missing out on automatic promotion last season. It was expected they would do the same this season, but things have turned quite badly.
Martin Ling is currently on sick leave that has left Torquay with Alan Knill as interim manager. Things have not improved under Knill, they have only got progressively worse. With no win since the end of January, it is difficult to be optimistic, but Alan Knill remains confident. Speaking after the draw with Southend, he praised his players:
“The players are so committed and we look a threat, as long as we’ve got that it gives us a great chance.”
There are some big games coming for Torquay, still set to face York and Barnet at home. They have reason to be quietly confident.
After sacking Carl Fletcher in the New Year, Plymouth’s fortunes have turned for the better under John Sheridan. After a shaky start initially, they have picked up some important points in the last few months, with wins over Aldershot, Barnet, and Fleetwood.
Jason Banton has been the catalyst in Plymouth’s success; after signing on loan from Palace he has hit the ground, running with five goals thus far. John Sheridan claims Plymouth can get more from him:
“I think we can get more out of him,”
“If he gets that into his game he can play at a higher level.”
The fixture list has been unkind to Plymouth; the last three games are as tough as it gets in League Two. This includes matches against Burton away (who are currently on their best form), Rotherham at home (a side who have realistic chance of promotion), and Rochdale at home (a squad that has greatly improved under Keith Hill). One thing is certain about Plymouth, though: they must persevere if they want to retain their League status.
Results have been sporadic for the Bees, with wins at the likes of Gillingham and defeats to Accrington Stanley. No clear judgement can be made about the side. The next three games are critical for Barnet, with three home games on the bounce. It is the perfect time to get Underhill rocking and dig in for another season of last season dramatics.
Edgar Davids is clear about the fight ahead:
“Perhaps we thought we were comfortable. We do it the Barnet way, which is always the difficult way, but we are ready to fight every match. We have to man up and take responsibility.”
FA Cup distractions has seen Aldershot scrappin;, through the midst of Danny Hlyton’s heroic FA Cup run the club has demised in League Two. Andy Scott has come into replace Dean Holdsworth, who had long held the position before being sacked in February.
Scott had a successful started to his reign with a victory over Fleetwood, but with no wins since then. This has caused the alarm bells to start ringing. A lack of goals has been the problem for Aldershot, with only three goals in the last five games.
The question is being raised: Where is Danny Hlyton now? Aldershot midfielder, Danny Rose has been quick to defend the frontline:
“We can’t blame the strikers, the whole team has to take responsibility.”
Accrington perhaps didn’t expect themselves to be in the relegation scrap, but it now seems a reality that they may slip into obscurity again; heir only mention in an advert for milk. Accrington have been improving in recent weeks; their recent 3-2 win over Barnet could be priceless and their 3-0 success at Rochdale was reason for profound encouragement.
What has been worrying for Accrington has been their inconsistency, after defeating Rochdale 3-0 they went on score blanks in their next two games. It epitomized their current state. What to expect from Accrington is certainly the unexpected.
York are currently just outside the band of sides on 40 points, with 41 points to their name. This may put them in a better position, but York are still in peril.
After sacking Gary Mills, they appointed Nigel Worthington, which has little effect. A side fast running out of ideas, they look like they could drop into the bottom two at any moment. With no wins since New Years’ Day, York’s Football League status could again slip from their grasp.
There will many twists and turns in the run to the end of the season, but one thing is guaranteed: it will certainly be an exciting finish. Accrington may slip through the trap door due to their inconsistencies, while York look to be in a terrible state. Aldershot have been lackluster, while Torquay can’t buy a win.
The relegation battle is continuing to the final day.