Your guide to the National League promotion race as Chesterfield, Wrexham, Stockport County, Hartlepool United and Notts County make final push
Chesterfield have five games remaining to book their place in the National League play-offs and give themselves a chance of promotion.
It has been a difficult few weeks for the Spireites with just one win in their last seven, a run which has resulted in them dropping out of the play-off positions to eighth and two points behind seventh-placed Bromley.
But with a more favourable set of fixtures coming up against teams who have nothing to play for, all is not lost with three weeks to go.
Let’s take a look at the run-in for each of the contenders…
A couple of months ago it looked like Chesterfield might have a sniff at a place in the top three given the form they were in and the games in hand they had. However, that has proved to be a stepped too far with the top four sides of Torquay United (76 pts), Sutton United (72 pts), Stockport County (71 pts) and Hartlepool United (70 pts) having all pulled away from the chasing packing and will now battle it out for top spot. There are some tasty clashes with Stockport hosting Torquay on May 15 and Hartlepool travelling to Sutton on May 22.
Realistically, the Spireites will be aiming to catch the teams from Halifax in fifth downwards. The Blues are six points behind the Shaymen but have got a game in hand and play them away on the last day of the season. Halifax have a slightly better goal difference (+13) than Chesterfield (+9) so that would need to be overturned as well. Wrexham in sixth and seventh-placed Bromley are only two points in front but Eastleigh, Notts County and Dagenham and Rebridge are in the mix as well.
Halifax (5th - 62 pts)
Fixtures remaining: Boreham Wood (H), Dagenham & Redbridge (A), Maidenhead United (A), Chesterfield (H)
Verdict: By no means an easy end to the season. Boreham always provide tough opposition, Dagenham have come out of nowhere with five straight wins, Maidenhead is a difficult place to go if you need a result and then there is the final day showdown against the Spireites which could have a lot riding on it. The Shaymen experienced reaching the play-offs last season so the run-in will not faze them and I think they will finish in the top seven now.
Wrexham (6th - 58 pts)
Fixtures remaining: Yeovil Town (H), Boreham Wood (A), Notts County (H), King’s Lynn Town (H), Dagenham & Redbridge (A)
Verdict: I have not been that impressed with Wrexham in the two games against Chesterfield. I certainly would not fear them in the play-offs. Home games against Yeovil and King’s Lynn Town are winnable, Notts County will be tense and if Dagenham keep up their momentum then that is another last day fixture which could be a nerve-jangler. I think they could drop out.
Bromley (7th - 58 pts)
Fixtures remaining: Torquay United (A), Wealdstone (A), Notts County (A), Aldershot Town (A), Notts County (H)
Verdict: Bromley have benefited from a new manager ‘bounce’ and have won five of their last six, including an impressive victory against Hartlepool on Monday. I don’t think they will fear Notts County at the moment so if they can get a result against leaders Torquay on Saturday then it is going to be difficult to dislodge them from the top seven. I think they will do it.
Chesterfield (8th - 56 pts)
Fixtures remaining: Woking (A), King’s Lynn Town (H), Wealdstone (H), Dagenham & Redbridge (H), Halifax (A)
Verdict: One win in seven and with injuries to key players it has been a tough few weeks for James Rowe’s men but, on paper, they have three very winnable games against teams who are struggling and also have nothing to play for. The Dagenham clash looks a lot more tougher than it did a few weeks ago, but fans will be allowed inside the Technique for that one so that could give the Spireites the edge. It looks like it is going to come down to the final day against Halifax. I still think Chesterfield can do it but they will need to win three of the next four to stay in it before the trip to The Shay.
Eastleigh (9th - 56 pts)
Fixtures remaining: Altrincham (A), Barnet (H), Aldershot Town (A), Boreham Wood (H), Solihull Moors (A)
Verdict: The Spitfires have got themselves back in the mix and face teams who have nothing to play for so they are definitely in with a shout.
Notts County (10th - 54 pts)
Fixtures remaining: Sutton United (H), Barnet (A), Maidenhead United (A), Bromley (H), Wrexham (A), Weymouth (H), Bromley (A)
Verdict: The Magpies have games in hand but they have not won any of their last six and face two tough games against Bromley and have to go to Wrexham. I can’t see them making it now. The managerial change does not seem to have worked.
Dagenham & Redbridge (11th - 52 pts)
Fixtures remaining: Wealdstone (A), Stockport (A), Halifax (H), Chesterfield (A), Wrexham (H)
Verdict: The Daggers have come up like a train with five successive wins. They probably have the hardest run-in but given their form they won’t mind playing teams in and around them and it could work in their favour. Having said that, I think they might just run out of games and fall short.
Stockport are finishing strong and are 14 games unbeaten. I’m going to take a punt and say they will beat Torquay later this month and pinch the title. That will leave Torquay second and Hartlepool third in my book.
In terms of the other play-off positions, I’m going for Sutton, Halifax, Bromley and Chesterfield.
Bring it on!