Hi everyone, a quick preview to read at work/lunch/on your way to Blundell Park/whenever really…..
Managerless Wrexham visit Blundell Park this Saturday; as you may have heard, Kevin Wilkin was sacked recently, soon after his side lost to North Ferriby in the FA Trophy. On penalties. At Wembley. As we know, the Mariners reached Wembley in the Scott;Hurst era, and played against Wrexham 2 full years ago, and lost on penalties, but didn’t sack the management. There are a number of comparisons or parallels you consider between these 2 clubs.
Both former league sides, expected and expecting to do well in the Conference, keen to return to League 2. Both seen other perhaps less fancied sides succeed in the play-offs, and perhaps each side quilty of over-emphasising the FA Trophy and its importance.
Wilkin took Nuneaton to mid-table in 13-14, and this year has done the same for Wrexham; who obviously expected him to lead them to a top 5 finish or better. Of course Wrexham know all too well that you can finish 2nd in this division and still not go up. Uniquely in the top tiers of English football. It does make you wonder what targets are set behind closed doors at Conference clubs. Would the Wrexham board have dismissed Wilkin had they won on penalties, or had lost to a perceived bigger side (GTFC, Barnet or Bristol Rovers for instance) at Wembley? We will most likely never know.
And, oh belated congratulations to North Ferriby for winning the FA Trophy. As recently won by Cambridge, Wrexham, York City and, oh… Darlington.
Amongst the current unsuccessful Welsh side is ex-GTFC loanee Connor Jennings; who has managed 6 goals in 30+ Conference starts this season; which is the same number Ollie Palmer has managed for Town. But in 10 starts. Anyway, Saturday; a chance to put pressure on Barnet and Bristol Rovers. Early team news for the Mariners is that Christian Jolley won’t be available, Carl Magnay will return, Josh Gowling is doubtful.
PLAYOFFS AND WHO CAN THE TITLE, AND HOW?:
The play-offs are assured for GTFC, by virtue of Forest Green having to entertain Macclesfield this Saturday for starters. Now we know that, there is a small matter of trying to win the division and secure automatic promotion. Now we are guaranteed play-offs, let’s avoid them if we can….
SCENARIO 1: Current leaders Barnet have to beat Halifax (still in playoff contention) AND Kidderminster (mid-table) AND Gateshead (still chasing playoffs) and win all 3 to secure the title. Simple. 94 points would win the title for Barnet. (I hope Wrexham fans AREN’T reading this – they finished 2nd in 2011-12 with 98 points, and lost in the playoffs.)
SCENARIO 2; If Barnet drop ANY points at all, Bristol Rovers have a chance; if they beat Southport(just about safe from relegation) AND Dover(still in playoff race) AND Alfreton(not yet safe), they would finish with 93 points.
AND SCENARIO 3: For Town to win the title, they must win all 3 remaining games; firstly Wrexham, then Southport away, then Aldershot at home. That would take us to 91 points. It could tie us with Barnet if they lose one, and with Bristol Rovers if they drew one. So goal difference could come into play.
Having highlighted what each team needs to do to win, its clear there are many possibilities; none of the top 3 play each other, so each Saturday from here on in is crucial. Stating the obvious but if all 3 contenders win on Saturday, or all 3 draw, or all 3 lose for that matter, there would be just 2 opportunities left for Barnet to throw it away. I’m not going to go into all the permutations, but at its crudest, Town’s chances would be 1 in 3, but surely less than that given the advantage Barnet possess.
(There’s a chance that as you read this, another blogger will be doing some type of statistical analysis; we’ve put a list of bloggers at http://www.marinerstrust.co.uk/home/links/ and please give us a yell if you do a blog or know of one to recommend, so we can add it to that page)
So this Saturday, between 1500hrs and 1700hrs, I am a temporarily a Halifax fan and a Southport fan, and I will cheer the Mariners from my Lower Findus seat, but I will most certainly be looking on Twitter and on the BBC sport website Conference page, and hoping for another Bradley Wood penalty type moment.
Up The Mariners!