This Is How It Is (And How It Could Be)

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A question for you – what will you be doing with your Tuesday evening? For us Boro’ fans, we find ourselves having to accept that the festivities and frivolities of playing underneath the floodlights are nothing but a distant memory for this season. And by the time we have a midweek game to look forward to, the hope is that the August sun hasn’t done a Michael Appleton and decided to up sticks for a better place.

But as we sit twiddling our fingers and counting down to Saturday’s trip to Swindon Town, there is a fair few games being played out tonight and, across three divisions, some will be influencing who we will be coming up against next season. There will be teams coming up from below, falling down from above and cocking it all about in League One. So let’s see what we may be waking to tomorrow.

League One: Five games tonight, starting with already-relegated Bury versus Scunthorpe United. The Iron are the only remaining side in the current bottom four who could feasibly stay up, but they need a win here. Quite what mood Bury will be in is anyone’s guess, but if Scunny fail to triumph, they’ll be in the brown stuff with two to go. That’s because there’s a chance they could be five points adrift of Oldham Athletic…

… and that’s because The Latics are at home to Yeovil Town tonight and also have an extra game to fit in next week. It’s a big ask for them to get a home win against a team who have a playoff berth guaranteed. But again, it depends what mood the visitors are going to be in tonight. What do we think? Well, we’re going to sit on the fence and say two draws and as you were going into Saturday’s matches.

Colchester United v MK Dons; Sheffield United v Brentford; and Swindon v Crewe – three games that complete League One’s programme and three to affect the promotion race. The Best Team In The Division are four points adrift of Swindon and winning their final three fixtures is their only chance of catching Sheffield United, who will have to oblige by losing their three remaining games. Not happening.

Given that we cannot see Crewe getting anything at Swindon, Karl Robinson’s men are in a bit of a pickle. Colchester’s form is patchy, while MK Dons have the lowest number of away wins in the top 17 of the division. A win for the hosts guarantees them League One football next season. And we think they might just get a win that guarantees MK Dons League One football next season too. Swindon to win too.

As for the other game, Brentford will go into second and a point behind leaders Doncaster Rovers if they pull off a win at Bramall Lane. But we can’t see it. Sheffield United defeated Swindon last time out and look resurgent under new management. Home win.

Championship: If Bristol City lose at home to Birmingham City, they will be down this evening as the gap between them and Blackburn and Peterborough is 10 points. If Bristol City win, they’ll be down if Peterborough, Blackburn and Huddersfield all win (we think). Fortunately, Blackburn AND Huddersfield can’t win as they’re playing each other. If you were looking for that chink of light…

Peterborough host Brighton and haven’t lost since February. That is nine games unbeaten and we fancy them to make it 10 under their own lights. Blackburn and Huddersfield? It’s a tough one, as both won their most recent games. For Rovers, that was a long time on the horizon. They have the home advantage and we’d reckon them to be the stronger prospect. Mind you, it might also have “score draw” written all over it.

Rovers should ultimately be fine as they have an extra game to play with, which leaves the good folk of Barnsley and Wolves in a massive spot of bother. Wolves take on Hull City at home and Barnsley do battle with Derby County. Wolves are looking as likely to escape as a newt from a Jon Ashton headlock at the moment, and Barnsley have picked a pretty bad time to stop winning.

Peterborough to win, Blackburn/Huddersfield to draw, Bristol City to draw, Wolves to lose and Barnsley to draw. Bristol City, come on down…

League Two: We know Gillingham are already up, we’ve accepted that – so now it’s about who else. Not much is happening at the top end of the table tonight. It is the playoff spaces that will be up for grabs. Rotherham United (fifth) go to Bradford City (seventh) and it will be the hosts desperately seeking the points. The Bantams sit a point above Exeter City and four above Cheltenham Town, who also play tonight.

Cheltenham Town host Plymouth and you’d predict a win. Can Bradford sneak it? Yes, but it won’t be easy.

And we should spare a mention for the bottom of the division, as Torquay and Barnet will be back at Plainmoor for a second go at this particular fixture this week. A win for the Bees might just do it for them this season, dragging Plymouth back into it. A win for Torquay is going to mix it up yet again, putting Barnet into the bottom two. Mind you, Torquay’s form of late is shocking. So who knows where this one goes.

Elsewhere, Aldershot have Southend at home and could overtake either Barnet or Torquay if a five-goal swing can be achieved on the latter. Aldershot to win by one, Torquay to draw with Barnet.

If we have made a mistake with our maths, it’s because we weren’t very good at it at school.

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BoroGuide runs the show around here, and has done since that glorious summer of 2002. We're not sure why it was so glorious; maybe it's the delirum of reliving David Seaman watching Ronald Eeeeenyo's lob drift over him. That and Boro' reaching the FAT final at Villa Park – not Wembley.

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