Must admit I thought we were done with the calculator for this season, but two wins and a draw out of three (we’ll gloss over the fact it was so close to three straight victories) have seen our points per game figure rebound from 1.419 at the end of a miserable February to 1.500. Extend that for 46 games and you get 69 points, almost certainly not enough for a play-off place but at least with that goal more clearly on the agenda, having been all but kicked off it.
To recap on some numbers, past history suggests that with 70 points you would be very lucky to make the play-offs, with 75 you have a decent chance, and with 80 you are virtually assured an extension to the season. Going on just average points per game projected over 46 matches and currently the team sitting in sixth place is Blackpool, despite being 11th in the table, as they have only played 30 and their projected points total of 73.60 edges out both Ipswich (73.31) and Portsmouth (72.48). For now at least we have to forget about the top five positions (for the record fifth-placed Doncaster, with 55 points from 31 games, would have a projected total for the season of over 81).
Of course everything is going to fluctuate with each round of games, especially as teams around the top play against each other, and these calculations are merely indicative. But as things stand it’s reasonable to suggest that six teams, including us (and in the current table down to Blackpool), are in a struggle for that sixth place. On points per game we are playing catch-up in 11th place, but we are thanks to recent results in the mix.
For us to make it to 75 points and a decent shot at a top-six finish we need 24 points from our remaining 12 games. Simple enough calculation, equally obvious that it implies having to win at least half of them, probably more. At home to Shrewsbury on Saturday and Bristol Rovers on Tuesday. Win those two games and we’d be on 57 points from 36. Then the requirement to make 75 points becomes 18 points from 10 games, or 1.8 per game. Still a step-up from the prevailing average (1.58) but a considerable narrowing of the gap at both ends.
Now this isn’t being arrogant about the chances of us winning the next two, merely to state what we need to do. They are both if not must-win games pretty close to it, if we are to remain in the mix. Pressure? Perhaps, but that’s what the game is all about and you want players who react well to this kind of pressure, who step up when it gets to the business end of a season. We’ve shown this kind of ability previously this season and there’s been a rekindling of it in the past three games, after the Blackpool debacle. Now it has to be extended, built on.
On a different subject, I was going to have a minor rant. My sister normally gets me the club calendar for Xmas, but as I was away this year it didn’t happen. So, thinks I, must be at a lower price by now given that nearly 20% of the year has passed and as we’ve already shed some of the players featured. Checked on the site and it was still bloody full price, when other items were reduced! How does that work? But there has now been an adjustment, the calendar is down in price, so one will be ordered. My only decision now is whether to get in addition a cut-price home shirt, in readiness for Wembley (whether or not we end up being able to go). As they say, it’s the hope that kills you.