I could given this week’s post the same title as last week: Bristol City have now lost consecutive league games for the first time since January but it’s been 19 months since they’ve lost three league games in a row. Aston Villa loanee Callum Robinson scored what turned out to be the only goal and the winner for Preston and with Swindon winning at Peterborough for the first time in almost a decade, the top of the table could be about to see a dramatic change.
In the other games I mentioned last week, Leyton Orient picked up their first home win this season when they hammered Crewe 4-1 and Yeovil made things interesting at the bottom after recording a rare away win at Notts County: Jordan Clarke scored twice in the last six minutes as the Glovers picked up the three points against a County team that played most of the game with ten men following Gary Jones’ dismissal.
Last weekend of the month and things are tight at both ends: the gap between first and sixth is down to seven points and at the bottom there’s only a five point gap between Coventry and Crewe. As things stand at the moment I’m not going to be able to post anything similar this one before Christmas so as the FA Cup is next weekend, today I’ll take a look at what’s happened at the end of November over the last decade.
* In six of the last ten seasons, the club leading at the end of November have been promoted but only half of those teams went up as Champions. Neither Leyton Orient (leaders at the end of November last year) and Tranmere (November 2012) were promoted.
* After that the pattern is a negative one for the top six. A substantial majority (63%, compared to 56% in the Championship over the same period) of clubs that occupied the top six at the end of November weren’t promoted, including two seasons (2010/11 and 2012/13) where only one team in the top six at the end of November eventually won promotion.
* The best chance of winning automatic promotion seems to be by finishing the month in the top four, but as you might expect the lower down in that group you finish the worse the odds become. For example, over the last decade only one team that finished November in sixth place has been promoted (Peterborough in 2009).
So although there’s a long way to go yet, there’s enough time for a club from the chasing pack to make a run at promotion. At the bottom it’s somewhat clearer: over the past decade at least two of the teams in the bottom six at the end of November have been relegated. At this point I’d say Crewe and Colchester are most at risk.
Back to this weekend and although there’s a rare televised game this evening (Peterborough v Bristol City, coverage starts at 7:30pm on Sky Sports 1 HD), the first of the three games of interest this week also takes place this evening.
Sheffield United v Notts County
Blades haven’t won any of their three games against the current top six but have only lost twice at home this season with their last reverse coming against Barnsley at the start of the month. Unlike last season they’ve spent most of this campaign in the top ten but I’m still far more likely to take them seriously as promotion contenders if they had a regular goalscorer. Mark McNulty has bagged five goals since moving from Livingston in the summer, but that’s less than one third than Owen Doyle has score for Chesterfield. Notts haven’t lost away from Meadow Lane since April, but haven’t won at Bramall Lane for over 20 years; however the Magpies are one of only three teams in League One that have conceded less than one goal per game so far this season (the others are Fleetwood and Walsall) and this looks like a game that won’t feature many goals.
MK Dons v Colchester
MKD have just the one home defeat this season (against Bradford in September) and have only dropped three points from 27 available against teams in the bottom half, so this looks like a fairly straightforward run out against the Us, who have never won at Milton Keynes. However, as I mention a few weeks ago, the Dons have to play four league games before Boxing Day as well as next Saturday’s cup tie against Chesterfield, so there’s a possibility that they may run out of steam by New Year’s Day.
I wasn’t far wrong with the ‘fairly straightforward run out’; MKD won 6-0.
Yeovil v Preston
As I mentioned above, Yeovil’s first win for two months was in somewhat fortunate circumstances but the fact remains that the Glovers haven’t won at Huish Park since September. However, that’s more than made up for their home record against Preston in the league: two games and two wins. The worrying aspect for Yeovil is that the Lillywhites have won all four of their away trips to the sides in the bottom seven without conceding a goal and stopped Bristol City from scoring at Ashton Gate for the first time this season.
Preston won 2-0.
I’ll update the results when I can this weekend, next weekend it’s an FA Cup special.