In reality, it looks like a two-horse race for the two automatic promotion places, but this is football and we know nothing’s guaranteed.
While there’s not much of a chance remaining for us to clinch one of the top two spots, there is a chance... so this is what needs to happen for us to go up.
At present, nine points separates Sunderland and Hull and seven points separate us from Peterborough.
Hull have three games left, Peterborough and Sunderland four games, and Lincoln, who’ve come back into it have five games remaining.
Technically, Hull can get 92 points, Peterborough can get 91, Sunderland can get 84 and Lincoln can get 87.
For the basis of working out the sequence of results for us to get promoted, I’m working on the assumption we’re getting 12 points from 12, and will end up on 84.
Therefore, for Sunderland to get promoted, Peterborough can only get another four points (if they get five, then goal difference will come into it – a big SAFC win against Accrington could be vital).
In addition, Lincoln can only get 11 more points if we are to finish ahead of them.
When it comes to Hull, they are one point away from being impossible for us to catch (their goal difference is pretty much insummountable), and a win in their next game will see them promoted regardless, as they face Lincoln – who also have to play Peterborough.
Hull City – points needed to finish ahead of SAFC: 2 (1 really, with GD)
Saturday 24 April: Lincoln (A)
Saturday 1 May: Wigan (H)
Sunday 9 May: Charlton (A)
After taking a point from our clash on Tuesday, Hull can guarantee promotion with three points at Sincil Bank. It will put them onto 86 points, and Lincoln’s maximum will be 84, same as ours.
If Lincoln beat Hull, however, then nerves will be jangling on Humberside – and we know all about Wigan and Charlton this season!
Peterborough – points needed to finish ahead of SAFC: 6
Darren Ferguson’s men need six points to guarantee finishing ahead of Sunderland – if they get five, it could come down to goal difference.
Saturday 24 April: Charlton (A)
Tuesday 27 April: Doncaster (H)
Saturday 1 May: Lincoln (H)
Sunday 9 May: Doncaster (A)
It’s a tough run in for Peterborough, although not as tough as it looked as if may be earlier in the season, before Doncaster’s form dropped off a cliff. Under Nigel Adkins, Charlton have looked a strong outfit and are pushing for a play off place. With Lincoln also to come, it could be a nervy run in for Posh.
Lincoln City – points needed to finish ahead of Sunderland: 13
The joker in the pack! I didn’t think they’d still have a chance of the automatic positions, but here they are. They’ve got themselves back up there and all credit to them – and they have at least one game in hand on all of us. Games against Hull and Peterborough will be a huge test, and with Charlton to come at the Valley too it will be a stern test for Lincoln.
Saturday 24 April: Hull (H)
Tuesday 27 April: Shrewsbury (A)
Saturday 1 May: Peterborough (A)
Tuesday 4 May: Charlton (A)
Sunday 9 May: Wimbledon (H)
Sunderland – points needed: 12
After a run of two points from 15, the chances of us picking up maximum points for the remainder of the season may look slim – however, it’s not impossible. Hopefully the players are focused on getting maximum points and then putting our situation into the hands of fate. On paper, we’ve got the easiest run in – however, given we’ve dropped points against the likes of Wigan and Plymouth this season, we can’t take anything for granted.
Saturday 24 April: Accrington (H)
Tuesday 27 April: Blackpool (H)
Saturday 1 May: Plymouth (A)
Sunday 9 May: Northampton (H)
Can we go up?
Of course, it’s a long shot, but there’s a chance – if we win all of our remaining games.
If we can do that, our best chance could involve Hull beating Lincoln and going up this weekend.
If we can take three points at Accrington, and Charlton beat Peterborough, we’ll trail Peterborough by four points.
Sunderland v Accrington: Home win
Charlton v Peterborough: Home win
Lincoln v Hull: Away win
This coming midweek, we play Blackpool, Lincoln are away at Shrewsbury and Peterborough are at home to Doncaster.
While I would like to think Lincoln and Peterborough will drop points, wins around are more likely. If so, the table would look like this.
Sunderland v Blackpool: home win
Peterborough v Doncaster: home win
Shrewsbury v Lincoln: away win
The following Saturday, we are away at Plymouth, and Lincoln and Peterborough face off at London Road. We saw recently just how tough an opponent Lincoln are, and a draw certaintly isn’t beyond the realms of possibility here.
Plymouth v Sunderland: away win
Peterborough v Lincoln: draw
If so, we’d go into the final week looking like this:
Lincoln play Charlton at the valley in midweek, while Blackpool play Doncaster at home.
Charlton v Lincoln: draw
If so, we could go into the final round of games like this:
If so, it would become a two-horse race for the second spot on the final weekend of the season.
Doncaster v Peterborough
Sunderland v Northampton
If we win and Peterborough lose, we’re up.
If we win and Peterborough draw, it’d got down to goal difference (note, Peterborough are currently +6 ahead of us. In the table above the goal difference is reflective of single goal wins/defeats).
Of course, we all know it’s an unlikely scenario. Playoffs are far, far more likely than automatic promotion, and there are countless other permatations.
But if we get through this weekend with a Sunderland win, and defeats for Peterborough and Lincoln, we can maybe see a little glimmer of hope.