Exeter City and their promotion and play-off rivals still have it all to play for
With the games beginning to run out in npower League Two, it is perhaps time to take stock and take a closer look at the runners and riders in this season's promotion race.
Gillingham look good for promotion to League One as they are five points clear at the top and they have a game in hand. Any slim hopes Exeter had of taking the title were perhaps ended by their goalless draw with the Gills on Tuesday, which keeps the Grecians ten points adrift, having played a game more.
After that, though, it is anyone's guess as to who will go up and who must make do with a play-off place. Port Vale have lost form at the crucial stage having won only one of the last eight matches. That has seen them slip down to third with Burton now in second after a superb run that has seen them win nine in a row on home soil.
The Brewers' run-in sees them take on Gillingham, Bradford City and Port Vale, while they also have clashes with relegation-threatened Plymouth and Accrington Stanley. On paper, those are winnable games, but at this stage of the season, nothing is guaranteed with teams fighting for their lives.
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Port Vale's run-in sees them face promotion rivals in the form of Cheltenham Town, Burton and Northampton Town, while they will also have a big say in things at the bottom with games against York City, Aldershot Town and Rochdale, who are not safe just yet.
Northampton, in fourth, have Oxford United, Cheltenham, Bradford and Port Vale to play, while only one of Rotherham United's remaining nine games is against a side not contending with promotion or relegation. They also host Exeter in South Yorkshire next weekend.
Cheltenham's run-in looks tough. The Robins still have to play Rotherham, Barnet, Port Vale, Northampton, Plymouth, Gillingham, Exeter and Bradford.
Exeter could put a sizeable gap between themselves and Bradford with a win today and after that, it is Rotherham, Plymouth, Rochdale, Dagenham and Redbridge, AFC Wimbledon, Cheltenham and Chesterfield for Paul Tisdale's side.
There is a five-point gap between City, who occupy the last of the play-off places, and Fleetwood Town in eighth. Notable fixtures in the Cod Army's run-in include today's trip to Plymouth, a home clash with Gillingham and away encounters with Barnet, Southend United, Rotherham and Wimbledon.
Oxford are still in with a shout and will fancy their chances with a favourable run-in. They only have Northampton from the top eight to play, but face clashes against relegation contenders Aldershot and Accrington.
Southend still have nine league games and a JPT Trophy final to cram in before the end of the season. That hectic run-in could cost them a play-off place, while many of their games are against teams fighting to stay up, such as today's home encounter with Torquay and next week's clash with Plymouth.
Bradford are 11th and have games in hand after their Capital One Cup exploits. Whatever happens, it has been a season to remember for the Bantams, but promotion remains their main objective.
A win for City today would leave them at least 11 points adrift of the top seven, depending on other results, while it would extend the Grecians' lead over them to 12 points.
I think the ten-point gap between Chesterfield, in 12th, Morecambe (13th) and Exeter is too large to bridge, although the Spireites do have a game in hand. Therefore, I think it is seven from 11 contesting the promotion and play-off places.
There are sure to be many twists and turns and freak results as well, but as always, it is an exciting time. What is also interesting is with Plymouth playing Fleetwood, Southend, Chesterfield, Cheltenham, Burton and Rotherham, they could do Exeter a huge favour in their quest for promotion!
Torquay, meanwhile, have to play Southend, Chesterfield, Northampton, Bradford and Gillingham, so they, too, can do the Grecians a favour.
Of more importance to them, perhaps, are clashes with strugglers York and Barnet. It's not just Exeter who have a lot to play for this season, but all three of Devon's professional clubs.