Who will stay and who will go?: The League One relegation battle
Sheffield United and Bolton Wanderers look certain to claim the automatic promotion spots in League One. But it’s a far more exciting affair at the other end of the table, with just five points separating Charlton Athletic in 16th place from Swindon Town in 22nd.
While the bottom two spots look set to be occupied by Chesterfield and Coventry City respectively, they’ll be joined by two of the seven sides above. But who is destined for another season in League One, and which sides will face the dreaded drop?
Here’s how the Ladbrokes News team see it going.
Swindon Town (22nd place; 42 points)
The Robins looked all-but-down little more than a week ago, but back-to-back 1-0 wins over promotion hopefuls Millwall and Fleetwood Town have drastically improved their survival chances, while striker Nicky Ajose is hitting form at the vital time, with five goals in his last seven games.
With several of their last five games coming against mid-table sides with nothing to play for, we’re tipping Lee Power’s men to secure a truly great escape.
Verdict: Staying up
Shrewsbury Town (21st place; 43 points)
Having been promoted or relegated in three of the previous five seasons, it’s fair to say the Shrews are used to late-season drama. Not that it seems to be helping them this season…
Winless in five, they’ve only scored twice in that period. Increasingly susceptible to second-half collapses of late, we can’t see the Shropshire club pulling themselves out of the mire this time around, so the 11/8 for relegation looks a good-value bet.
Verdict: Going down
Gillingham (20th place; 45 points)
After a run of six draws in seven games earlier this year, Gills fans would surely have been hoping for a change of fortunes. But not quite the one they’ve got. Four defeats on the bounce mean fans of the Kent club will be worrying – but they do have the quality to survive.
With the likes of Josh Wright, Cody McDonald and Josh Parker in their ranks, Ady Pennock’s men should have just about enough to survive, though it’s likely to be very tight.
Verdict: Probably staying up. Probably
Oldham Athletic (19th place; 45 points)
Maybe it’s just us, but the Latics seem to finish 18th every season. However well or poorly they start it, they’re destined to end up there or thereabouts. And thanks to a recent resurgence under John Sheridan, with just one defeat in five games, we’re expecting more of the same come the end of this campaign.
Verdict: Staying up
Port Vale (18th place; 45 points)
Compared to the sides around them, Vale Park has been something of a fortress for the hosts, and it’s their home form which will see them clear again this term. 10 points from the last four games in ST6 is impressive stuff, and with games in hand on the sides around them, we reckon the Burslem outfit will be just fine.
Verdict: Staying up
Bury (17th place; 46 points)
Bouncing back from defeat is an art form Chris Brass’ men are yet to learn. Having endured a 20-game run of three draws and 17 defeats in all competitions earlier this term, we reckon the Shakers (shaky by name and nature) are set for another collapse following a 5-1 mauling at the Kassam Stadium in their last outing.
With three of the sides in this list having games in hand on the Gigg Lane outfit, and matches against Bradford City, Bolton Wanderers and Southend United to come, we reckon the 5/1 for the Shakers to go down is brilliant value. As far as we’re concerned, they’re likely to start next season in League Two.
Verdict: Probably going down
Charlton Athletic (16th place; 47 points)
While the long-term future at The Valley looks bleak for Addicks fans, with the immensely unpopular Roland Duchatelet still installed as Chairman, the club look very unlikely to add relegation from League One to their list of troubles this season.
With games against each of the bottom two to come, and the visit of out-of-sorts Gillingham to East London, they’re hardly going to struggle for points in the final weeks, there’s a far better chance of them climbing up the table than dropping down.
Verdict: Definitely staying up
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing