It seems unlikely that Charlton will be playing a first ever league fixture against Burton next year as they will almost certainly pass us on their way up. Similarly, we may be spared a trip to Fleetwood as they hover just one place above the relegation zone. But there is a strong likelihood that we will be entertaining Accrington Stanley for the first time ever unless they lose their nerve in their last two games, and I rather fancy a trip to their Wham Stadium (don't ask) next season.
Stanley currently sit in second place in League 2 on 81 points with two games to play. Oxford have 80 points and Bristol Rovers in third place have 79. Accrington have a tough fixture on Saturday at eighth place Wycombe followed by a home game against Stevenage. Oxford go to Carlisle and then play Wycombe at home. Bristol Rovers have the easiest finish - playing the two relegated clubs - York and Dagenham & Redbridge. Plymouth and Portsmouth are hoping those above them implode.
If we assume that Bristol Rovers will win their games and achieve 85 points then Oxford and Stanley could be said to be battling for the third automatic promotion spot. Stanley are unbeaten in their last ten games so should be confident of getting at least four points. But will this be enough? If Oxford lose at Carlisle this weekend and our boys beat Wycombe then promotion is guaranteed.
Promotion to League 1 would be a fantastic achievement for the club who resigned from the League (failing to complete their fixtures) back in 1962 following "financial difficulties". They have since played in The Lancashire Combination; The Cheshire League; The NW Counties League and The Conference on their way back up. They won the Conference by 11 points in 2005/6 to secure a return to The Football league and have had ten straight seasons in League 2. Much of their recent success can be attributed to their legendary manager John Coleman who has been in charge for most of the time since the turn of the century.
Many will recall the milk advert in which a Liverpool kid says that Ian Rush told him that, if he doesn't drink his milk, he might end up playing for Accrington Stanley. His mate replies: "Accrington Stanley. Who are they ?" They are a truly small club. Last Saturday's 3-0 defeat of York City was watched by a crowd of 2,200. They might perhaps attract over 3000 for their final game. But they proudly advertise themselves as "the club that wouldn't die" and I for one wish them all the best in their tense run-in.
Meanwhile Charlton play Leeds United at Elland Road on Saturday. Kick off 3pm.