The League One relegation battle: A hope for next season
With League One now looking ever tighter, the relegation battle is also getting extremely tense for some sides. You could argue that the whole bottom half is in the mix to face the dreaded drop, so let's take a closer look at who is fighting for survival.
First up is Bury. The Shakers finished 19th last year and manager Ryan Lowe has found it extremely tough this time around. Only seven wins from 40 matches proves exactly why they are currently bottom. With only 30 points gathered, they sit 12 points from safety which doesn't bode well considering they only have six games left to play. Their survival is highly unlikely but still mathematically possible. The Greater Manchester club also possess the weakest attacking force with just 32 goals to their name; four less than anybody else. No wins in six games and just one point from a possible 18 is not a good sign.
Next up is Northampton Town. The side with the second-worst attacking force in League One. Finishing 16th last season, the Cobblers were hoping to improve by now but that hasn't been the case. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was sacked after a recent loss to Peterborough United following some awfully poor form. Nine games without a win, including four reds cards, and just as many points picked up along the way. Now assistant coach Dean Austin has taken charge as caretaker manager maybe something could change. Currently, on 40 points Northampton are two points inside the relegation zone but have also played more games than anyone around them.
In 22nd place is Rochdale. Finishing in ninth place last year would have created an ambitious target for this season but it hasn't been as straightforward as that. Keith Hill's side has slipped down the table into the drop zone. There was trouble aplenty after they had many games called off due to a poor pitch. But now that has been sorted they still have a few games left in hand over other clubs. Even though the Dale are one point inside the dreaded drop zone, they have only played 38 games. Being unbeaten in three with two recent victories is a great sign of pushing the momentum. Although still in a dangerous position, Rochdale has a great opportunity to create themselves an escape route.
Let's take a look at MK Dons. Currently holding the final relegation spot, Dan Micciche's side haven't actually been doing too bad recently. But compared to their recent league finish of 12th place there is still that glimpse of hope to survive. Despite losing to Blackburn last time out, they have totalled three victories in their last five games. The Dons have played more games than most clubs and only sit inside relegation by goal difference so there is some hope.
Jumping above the red line we now see MK Dons' rivals, AFC Wimbledon. Neil Ardley's side sits on 42 points with 39 games played but hasn't won in three matches. Their 15th place finish from last season may not be beaten this time around but there is still plenty of opportunities to steer clear of the dreaded drop into League Two.
Oldham sit in 19th place just one point ahead of relegation with only 38 games played. They also possess Eoin Doyle who is among the league's top scorers. The Irishman has 15 goals this campaign and could be vital in Oldham's survival. With a recent victory against Blackpool, there is a glimmer of hope for the Latics as they aim to improve on their 17th placed finish last year.
Three more teams could be agreed to be in a relegation fight still is Walsall, Oxford and Blackpool. Walsall are only two points ahead of relegation while Oxford are four points ahead and Blackpool with five more points than MK Dons. Walsall have lost four consecutive games which may be a confidence killer for them right now. They seem to be relying on midfielder Erhun Oztumer who has already bagged 15 goals this term. Oxford also haven't found their form with no win in three while Blackpool haven't won in four games. All these sides could slip into the danger zone which could add more drama and tension as each game is completed.
The League One relegation battle is extremely tight and over the next few weeks, it will only get tighter than ever. Just nine points separate the last relegation spot right up to 13th place. We could include Fleetwood and Doncaster to the relegation mix but with their current form, it looks highly unlikely they could drop that far down in good momentum.
Who do you reckon will go down this season? Are Bury written off? Northampton are 23rd but only two points inside the danger zone which shows just how close this fight will be.