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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

League Two: Final Day

There's still plenty to determine on the final day of action in League Two this weekend. Not least of all - who will be joining Darlington in being relegated to the Conference.

Nobes casts his eye over the final day in League Two.

Race for the play-offs

4. Rotherham........45.....6.......73
5. Aldershot..........45....14......72

6. Morecambe........45.....8......70
7. Dagenham.........45.....9......69
8. Bury.................45.....-5.....68
9. Port Vale...........45....11.....67
10. Chesterfield.....45.....-2.....67
11. Northampton....45.....9......66

Things are a little clearer in the race for the top seven after the weekend's matches. Both Rotherham and Aldershot confirmed their places in the end of season play-offs.

That leaves two more spaces to be filled. In pole position currently are Morecambe and Dagenham. Wins for them in their respective games against Aldershot and Darlington will secure them a play-off place.

If either slip up, there's a clutch of sides hoping to take advantage. Two of them - Northampton and Bury - meet at Sixfields.

Port Vale face Shrewsbury and Chesterfield host Bournemouth. Both must win their games and cross their fingers.

Rotherham are assured of home advantage in the second leg of their play-off tie because of Morecambe and Aldershot meeting on the final day.

Chesterfield vs. Bournemouth

The interesting thing about this game is, not only is it a last chance for the top seven for the hosts, it's also potentially their last ever game at Saltergate.

They'll be desperate to win for both those reasons therefore, but Chesterfield are without a win in their last six and seem to have blown it at the most important stage of the season.

Bournemouth are already promoted, are relaxed, and can play for fun. I fancy the Cherries to spoil the party and get at least a draw.

Nobes' Prediction: Chesterfield 1 Bournemouth 1

Darlington vs. Dagenham & Redbridge

On paper, Dagenham couldn't have asked for a better fixture to secure their place in the top seven. Darlo are rock bottom and doomed to life in the Conference next season.

However, Daggers do not travel well away from home. They'll also be conscious of the fact they blew the play-offs on the final day of last season too.

The home side have generally improved under new boss Simon Davey, and will hope to go out on a high note after a desperate campaign. They won at Macclesfield last week and I fancy them to claim a draw here too.

Nobes' Prediction: Darlington 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 1

Morecambe vs. Aldershot Town

Morecambe are another club who know that, come full time, they may have just played their last game at their Christie Park ground.

However, I don't think that'll be the case, as I see them winning this one. Their home record is very good, and they've hit form at the right time.

Aldershot have already secured their place in the play-offs and it could well transpire that these two meet again in the end of season lottery in a few days time.

Will they go out to get a result and score a psychological boost? Or will they rest a few players and take it easy? It's difficult to say. This day will all be about Morecambe though.

Nobes' Prediction: Morecambe 2 Aldershot Town 1

Northampton Town vs. Bury

These are two teams who would have expected to be in the play-offs at least this term, now only one of them could be, and both probably won't.

After getting themselves into contention with a great run, Cobblers have only won one of their last six. They can still sneak in on goal difference with a win - but I don't see everyone else dropping points.

Bury have gone I'm afraid - highlighted by their 3-0 defeat at home to Torquay at the weekend. It's been a disappointing campaign for Alan Knill's men, they just haven't been able to last the pace.

Nobes' Prediction: Northampton Town 2 Bury 0

Port Vale vs. Shrewsbury Town

There's always one team who sneak into the play-offs with a good late run - and I think Port Vale will be the side who do that in League Two this term.

They were battered 4-0 at Bournemouth last week, but have been in great form generally. They also have a goal difference which is superior to that of Dagenham's.

Shrewsbury sacked manager Paul Simpson last week and have had a very poor end to the campaign. I can't see them putting up too much resistance, despite it being a localish West Midlands affair.

A Vale win which, with Dagenham dropping points, will be enough for them to capture that final play-off berth.

Nobes' Prediction: Port Vale 2 Shrewsbury Town 0

Relegation Battle

21. Cheltenham.....45....-17.....47
22. Barnet............45....-17.....45
23. Grimsby..........45....-23.....44
24. Darlington.......45....-52.....30

Darlington have long been consigned to the drop, but a fantastic late run has kept Grimsby's survival hopes alive until the final day.

The Mariners must win at Burton and then hope other results go their way. If they do so, and Barnet fail to beat Rochdale, the Lincolnshire side will survive.

If both Grimsby and Barnet win they must hope for a mathematical miracle at Cheltenham. The Robins know a point definitely keeps them up.

Barnet vs. Rochdale

How on earth have Barnet got themselves into this mess? The Bees have been simply dreadful in 2010 - reminiscent of their collapse which led to relegation in 2001.

They even had a chance to put this to bed but lost at Grimsby last weekend. They must be in a state of shock down at Underhill. So do they really want a visit from promoted Rochdale?

Actually, Dale have been in poor form despite clinching promotion - only winning one of their last eight games. However, they'll be determined to go out with a bang and can play with the kind of freedom Barnet can't.

On current form, this is a game both sides would lose if that was possible. So, for that reason, Rochdale's greater quality and Barnet's greater need will probably mean a stalemate and leave the Bees depending on Burton.

Nobes' Prediction: Barnet 0 Rochdale 0

Burton Albion vs. Grimsby Town

Who'd have thunk it? Grimsby went 25 games without a win earlier in the season, but they still have a chance of saving themselves on the final Saturday.

Their run in always looked favourable, and they've taken advantage of it - including winning that high-pressure game against Barnet.

Now they've got a chance for redemption with a win at Burton - a team who have nothing to play for and have only won once in their last eight games.

I know I'm a sucker for last day escapes from relegation, so this is a prediction made with my heart as well as my head.

Grimsby have won their last two away games without conceding and know they can do what they have to do. Grimsby to stay up and send Barnet down.

Nobes' Prediction: Burton Albion 1 Grimsby Town 2

Cheltenham Town vs. Accrington Stanley

Had Cheltenham not suffered such a huge loss at Notts County at the weekend, they would be celebrating survival already. However, that 5-0 loss means they're not 100% safe yet.

Accrington's biggest win of the season was also against Cheltenham too - a 4-0 win.

However, Stanley have nothing to play for and their players will be on the beach after rounding up their home campaign with a win at the weekend.

A meaningless game for them in the May sunshine in the Cotswolds is great news for Cheltenham. The home side have been in good form and should secure all three points.

Nobes' Prediction: Cheltenham Town 3 Accrington Stanley 1

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