Colchester United comment: six wins from last 13 and U's will make the play-offs
PUBLISHED: 15:52 21 February 2019
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Colchester United correspondent Carl Marston examines what the U's have to do, pointwise, if they want to reach the play-offs, or gatecrash the top three
Six more wins, from their last 13 matches, should be enough to secure Colchester United a play-off place.
The U’s have not been involved in the end-of-season play-offs for 21 years, harking back to the 1997-98 campaign when Steve Wignall’s men won promotion to the third tier.
The Essex club won promotion again, eight years later, thanks to automatic promotion from League One to the Championship under Phil Parkinson (2005-06).
But since then, the U’s have suffered a couple of relegations to find themselves back in the fourth tier, for the last three years.
I have looked back through the last 10 years, to find out what it takes to win automatic promotion, and what is required to reach the play-off phase.
The top three is certainly not beyond John McGreal’s class of 2018-19, but they will have to up their game during the last 13 matches if they are to avoid the lottery of the play-offs.
Over the last decade and a bit, the third-placed finishes in League Two – the last automatic promotion slot – have ranged between 78 points (Wycombe in 2008-09) and 85 points (Doncaster in 2016-17, Bristol Rovers in 2015-16, and Bury in 2014-15).
On average, 82.2 points (rounded down to 82 points) have been required to claim third spot, over the last 10 years, so that means the U’s will probably have to accumulate another 29 points from their last 13 games.
That is a very big ask, trying to accrue 29 points from a possible 39. It equates to nine wins and two draws.
More more feasible is the U’s making the top seven, and so the play-offs.
The seventh-placed finishes, of the last 10 years, range from just 68 points (Torquay United in 2010-11) up to 75 points (AFC Wimbledon in 2015-16 and Lincoln City last season).
The average number of points for a seventh spot comes in at 71.2 points (rounded down to 71 points).
That means the U’s could need just 18 points to bag a play-off place, equating to an attainable six wins from 13 games, or perhaps five wins and three draws, or four wins and six draws.
In conclusion, then, a play-off berth does look well within the U’s grasp this term.
McGreal’s men currently have 53 points from 33 games, and have been in-and-around the play-offs for much of the season, so to miss out would be a big shame.
They are only five points adrift of third-placed Mansfield, so automatic promotion is also a possibility, if unlikely.
Seven points from a possible nine, in their last three outings, a 3-0 home win over Cheltenham sandwiched by a 4-0 victory at Northampton and a 1-1 draw at Macclesfield, confirms that they are bang in form.
And a win over seventh-placed Carlisle United tomorrow would go some way towards cementing their top-seven berth, and providing a launch-pad for a possible assault in the top three.
It promises to be an exciting next couple of months.
The last 10 years
2017-18: 3rd Wycombe (84pts); 7th Lincoln City (75)
2016-17: 3rd Doncaster Rovers (85pts); 7th Blackpool (70)
2015-16: 3rd Bristol Rovers (85pts); 7th AFC Wimbledon (75)
2014-15: 3rd Bury (85pts); 7th Plymouth Argyle (61)
2013-14: 3rd Rochdale (81pts); 7th York City (71)
2012-13: 3rd Port Vale (78pts); 7th Bradford City (69)
2011-12: 3rd Crawley Town (84pts); 7th Crewe (72)
2010-11: Wycombe (80pts); 7th Torquay United (68)
2009-10: 3rd Rochdale (82pts); 7th Dagenham & Redbridge (72)
2008-09: 3rd Wycombe (7pts); 7th Shrewsbury Town (69)
Average number of points for 3rd spot = 82.2 points
Average number of points for 7th spot = 71.2 points