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End of season run in - what exactly could happen?

With just over two weeks to go in this season’s Evo-Stik Premier Division, FC United know that if they win their last six games they will definitely be in the play-off places. But what else could happen and who else is still in with a chance? The official site provides this play-off preview…

Whisper it quietly and let’s pray we’re not jinxing it but Karl Marginson’s side seem to be coming into form at the right time. The Reds are currently enjoying a 14 match unbeaten run which stretches back to 2nd February.

It’s the longest the club has gone without loss since spring 2007 when a penalty from Nicky Platt and a Josh Howard wonder goal sealed the North West Counties league and cup double as well as an amazing stint of 26 matches avoiding defeat.

Back to this season; with Halifax Town 12 points clear at the top of the table and needing just one more to take the title, it’s odds-on that the reincarnated Shaymen will be crowned champions for the second time in as many years this weekend as they travel to the already relegated Retford.

That leaves 11 teams still fighting it out for the four play-off places – all the way down to 12th placed Northwich Victoria, our visitors to Gigg Lane this Saturday, who - though unlikely - can still mathematically make it into the top five.

With third and fourth placed Buxton and North Ferriby both losing on Wednesday night, United are now just one point behind the Bucks with equal games played and level on points with the Villagers with two games in hand.

The Reds also have two games in hand over second placed Colwyn Bay, who are eight points in front. With the Seagulls trawling over to Buxton this weekend, United stand to make ground on at least one of their rivals if they can beat the Vics for the first time in three attempts.

After that, on paper Colwyn have a reasonably straight forward run-in with home games against mid-table Stocksbridge Park Steels and Nantwich Town as well as an away trip to Hucknall. Although the latter two are involved in a relegation battle, so the Welsh side may have a fight on their hands, especially considering the Dabbers turned them over 2-1 at the Weaver Stadium just two weeks ago.

Buxton have a much more difficult end to the season with four away games including one journey to promotion contenders Worksop as well as tricky trips to Stocksbridge, Northwich and Nantwich. Their only other home game of the season after this weekend is Easter Monday when they take on local rivals Matlock Town.

North Ferriby have a reasonable run-in with two games at home to Kendal and Ossett Town and two away trips to Nantwich and Frickley. Although again, the latter three will be desperately trying to fight off relegation so should not be underestimated. And as a team who have lost three of their last five matches with just one win coming two weeks ago, Ferriby will need an immediate return to form to cling on to a play-off spot.

Looking over their shoulder, FC United will be wary of the very real threat posed by Marine, Chasetown and Matlock with all three no more than five points behind the Reds. United have to play each of these sides so at the very least avoiding defeat against them could be crucial.

Marine will be confident of making into the play-offs as other than a trip to Bower Fold, they have games against Mickleover Sports, Frickley and a local derby with Burscough. They do still have to make a trip to the Shay Stadium but with Halifax expecting to be champions by then, with all respect to the Shaymen, Marine may find themselves playing a team who are easing off the pedal.

Meanwhile, Evo-Stik Premier new boys Chasetown have six games to go – three at home and three away. As well as hosting FC United, also visiting The Scholars Ground will be Worksop and Retford whilst they will be making trips to Frickley, Northwich Victoria and Kendal.

Before the deadline day derby with Buxton, Matlock host Bradford Park Avenue, Nantwich and of course FC United whilst they have to travel to Ashton United and Hucknall.

Worksop are definitely still in contention but with seven games in 16 days still to play, the Tigers must be wondering whether they’ve got enough left in the tank. Visitors to Cannon Park are Kendal, Nantwich, Buxton and Hucknall, whilst they will play away at Ashton, Chasetown and Bradford Park Avenue.

Which brings us on to the final team with a realistic chance of making the play-offs – our old rivals from over the Pennines; Bradford. Although currently sitting in 10th spot, BPA will be hoping for a dramatic late surge up the table and may be able to pull it off especially with four home games still to come. It’s likely their season will hinge on how they get on at Matlock this weekend and when they host Worksop on Easter Saturday.

So, taking all that into account, what’s the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this article –‘what could happen?’ Pretty much anything. FC United could still finish anywhere from second to 12th. Glad we cleared that up then.

Get yourself to those football grounds to cheer the lads on in six and potentially seven or even eight ’cup finals’. Hold on tight. As a once wise old man said – it’s squeaky bum time.

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First Posted ~ 16:32 Fri 8 Apr 2011
News ID ~ 3523
Last Updated ~ 16:32 Fri 8 Apr 2011