Why Ipswich Town's top-six chances are now rated at just 4%
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Ipswich Town have just 11 games left to play this season. STUART WATSON assesses their chances of securing a top-six finish.
Town would have moved to within just a point of the play-off places had they turned two dominant displays against Cheltenham and Morecambe into wins last week. Instead, two frustrating draws saw the gap grow to five.
That margin widened to six last night after Sheffield Wednesday beat Burton 5-2 at Hillsborough.
There were wins too for 10th-place Portsmouth (3-2 at home to Oxford) and 7th-place Wycombe (3-0 at home to Cambridge).
Ipswich sit ninth in the table with 11 games to play. Plymouth, three points and one place above, have two games in hand. Portsmouth, two points and one place below, also have two games in hand.
According to sportsclubstats.com, which simulates the final fixtures thousands of times, the Blues now have just a four per cent chance of finishing in the top six.
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In most seasons, 75 points is enough to secure a play-off place. This season, however, that number may be a little higher.
Town need 22 points from their remaining 11 games to hit that total.
In short, the team needs to replicate the two points per game average produced over Kieran McKenna's first 12 games in charge to stand a slim chance.
That looks like W6 D4 L1 or W7 D1 L3.
Realistically, at least seven wins are required, if not eight.
So, the question is, can you see seven or eight wins from the following 11 games? (Town's record in the reverse fixtures reads W5 D3 L3).
Sat, Mar 5: Fleetwood (a)
Tues, Mar 8: Lincoln (h)
Sat, Mar 12: Portsmouth (h)
Sat, Mar 19: Oxford (a)
Sat, Mar 26: Plymouth (h)
Sat, Apr 2: Cambridge (h)
Sat, Apr 9: Shrewsbury (a)
Fri, Apr 15: Rotherham (a)
Mon, Apr 18: Wigan (h)
Sat, Apr 23: Crewe (a)
Sat, Apr 30: Charlton (h)
Town face three of their top-six rivals in succession at the end of March then take on the current top-two over the Easter weekend. The margin for error in the other six matches therefore looks minimal.
Let's just say that the top three - Rotherham, Wigan and MK Dons - are too far ahead and that 12th-place Accrington are too far back.
Here's the last 10 form guide of the eight teams currently sitting between fourth and 11th.
1st Sheffield Weds W8 D0 L2 Pts 24
2nd Bolton W7 D1 L2 Pts 22
3rd Oxford W6 D1 L3 Pts 19
4th IPSWICH W5 D3 L2 Pts 18
5th Plymouth W5 D1 L4 Pts 16
6th Portsmouth W4 D2 L4 Pts 14
7th Wycombe W3 D3 L4 Pts 12
8th Sunderland W2 D3 L5 Pts 9
Ipswich, as mentioned, have five games left against sides currently vying for promotion.
Here's how that compares:
Plymouth (8) - Bolton (a), Portsmouth (h), Ipswich (a), Oxford (h), Wycombe (a), Sunderland (h), Wigan (a), MK Dons (h).
Portsmouth (7) - Ipswich (a), Plymouth (a), Wycombe (h), Bolton (a), Rotherham (h), Wigan (h), Sheff Weds (a).
Oxford (5) - Ipswich (h), Plymouth (a), Sunderland (h), MK Dons (h), Rotherham (a).
IPSWICH (5) - Portsmouth (h), Oxford (a), Plymouth (h), Rotherham (a), Wigan (h).
Sheffield Weds (4) - Bolton (a), MK Dons (a), Wycombe (a), Portsmouth (h).
Wycombe (4) - Rotherham (h), Portsmouth (a), Plymouth (h), Sheff Weds (h).
Bolton (4) - Plymouth (h), Portsmouth (h), Wigan (a), Sheff Weds (h).
Sunderland (3) - Rotherham (h), Oxford (a), Plymouth (a).