Welcome to the second – and last! – post of the month.
I should be back on a more regular basis until the end of the season, but if a week is a long time in politics, a month is a long time in football. Here’s how things currently stand:
At the top Luton now nine points clear of third placed Portsmouth with seven games left to play. As things stand, Barnsley are most likely to join the Hatters in the Championship via the direct route.
It’s still possible for almost all of the teams in the top half of the table to win promotion via the playoffs, but at the very least it looks likely that Portsmouth and Sunderland have cemented playoff places.
At the bottom AFC Wimbledon and Bradford look doomed as they have done for some time. The recent awful run of form that caused Chris Powell to be sacked has propelled Southend into a relegation battle that looked unlikely a month ago but with only nine points separating the bottom ten teams anything could happen over the next few weeks. Scunthorpe are also looking for yet another new boss after Stuart McCall was dumped after the Iron went on another bad run.
With Portsnouth and Sunderland facing off in the EFL Trophy on Sunday (2:30pm,Sky Sports Football – might actually be worth watching), it’s down to the bottom of the table this weekend’s game of the week.
Southend v Shrewsbury
I haven’t written much about Southend at all over the last year: they’ve studiously avoided either the top or the bottom six for much of the time they’ve been back at this level – but there’s always one team that seems to pick the worst time to have a catastrophic run of form and this season it’s them.
After beating Gillingham at Roots Hall on New Years Day, the Shrimpers have lost six of their last seven at home and have gone eleven games without a win. As things currently stand, this is their last home game of the season against any of the teams in the bottom six but their trips to Rochdale and Walsall next month could be just as important as they attempt to avoid relegation.
Shrewsbury have only won twice away from home all season but despite having the worst away record in the competition, the Shrews had been on a five game undefeated streak until the start of the month. They’ve performed relatively poorly against their fellow relegation strugglers – so far they’re the only team to have lost twice to Bradford – but they don’t have a daunting run in and should have every chance of retaining their status in the third tier.
Southend’s record at Roots Hall against the Shrews doesn’t make comfortable reading for Shrimpers fans. Since January 2001 the sides have met in ten league contests in Essex and Southend have only won three of those games, the most recent victory was by a single goal in September 2014.
Also in contention for this week’s game of the week are two games between playoff contenders and relegation battlers. Charlton host Bradford whilst Walsall visit Doncaster: to be fair the latter has more riding on it as both clubs still have control over their destinies whilst Bradford have to rely on snookers.
I should be back next weekend, but if there are any issues I’ll let you know ASAP.