Calculating the points needed for safety is a difficult task in League Two. Whilst Premier League managers often talk about the ‘all-important 40 points mark’, the landmark which signifies Football League survival is not so black and white.
Last year, 41 points was enough to keep local rivals Grimsby Town away from the doldrums of non-league. However, the Mariners were only saved by virtue of the controversial points deduction that the Football League imposed on Luton Town. Had this decision not been made, the club from up the A46 would have been relegated to the Blue Square Premier- and Bournemouth, on 46 points, would have scraped to safety.
In recent seasons in which handicaps were not enforced on teams, it seems that between 44 and 48 points gives a club a reasonably solid chance of avoiding the drop. Macclesfield Town (48 points in 2006-07) and Rushden and Diamonds (44 points in 2004-05) seem to illustrate that point. But there are exceptions. In the 2005-06 season Oxford United couldn’t stay up despite their relatively hefty total of 49 points.
So with Lincoln City currently on 34 points, that would suggest that between 10-14 more are needed before the end of the season. With 13 games to achieve them in, this might seem a doddle. But what of the chances of their relegation rivals? Darlington seem to be doomed, but can Lincoln still be ousted from the Football League?
The Imps have a mixed run-in, still needing to travel to places like Notts County and Shrewsbury- not forgetting the unenviable task of halting league leaders Rochdale this weekend. However, they do still have games against the teams around them. Hereford arrive at Sincil Bank this month and that is followed by a trip to Torquay. If Chris Sutton’s side do capitulate, the last game of the season is at home to Macclesfield which will be the envy of most of their relegation threatened adversaries.
That is especially true of Torquay United (33 points), who will be hoping to make certain of their survival before the last game of the season when Notts County visit Plainmoor. In fact, Paul Buckle’s side will need to pick up points quickly as their last six games sees them take on Rochdale, and Bury too, as well as relegation dogfights against Grimsby and Macclesfield.
Not only do Macclesfield (32 points) have to travel to Sincil Bank, but also the improving Bradford, high-fliers Rochdale and playoff-hopefuls Dagenham and Redbridge. With the Silkmen arguably lacking in squad depth compared to their rivals, it will be interesting to see how the squad deals with the pressure.
Cheltenham (31 points) are currently one place above the drop zone and, worryingly for their supporters, have won just once this year. The failure to pick up any points at home to struggling Hereford, who had a man sent off in the first half of the game, could mean belief and morale are very low. The Robins’ chances of avoiding the drop heavily depend on the striking trio of Barry Hayles, Justin Alsop and Justin Richards who need to improve their form significantly.
Despite the struggles of these sides, the likelihood is that they will all be saved from relegation doom by Grimsby Town (24 points). The Mariners have not won in a massive 26 league games and look doomed to the drop that they avoided so fortunately last year. However, the Imps and other lowly clubs should not count their chickens yet. One win could spark a revival for Neil Woods’ team and, with a kind looking April, they could yet surprise a few onlookers by making up the seven points that they currently trail Cheltenham by.
Grimsby’s poor season means the points total to secure survival will be lower than previous years, which is excellent news for the Imps. Four wins out of thirteen matches will be more than enough to make sure that Sincil Bank is hosting League Two football next year.Tweet