Saturday’s washout of the Darlington game was a complete disappointment to all not least of all the players who have just come to a stage of the season that will really start to test their promotion credentials.
Whilst going 11 days without a game could be seen as an advantage, they embark on the long trip to an in-form Grimsby side on the weekend at the start of a tough run of fixtures that originally saw 4 of their next 6 games away from home. That has been eased slightly by the re-arranging of the Darlington fixture for 16 November but it will be the next six weeks or so that really test whether the Swans are genuine promotion contenders for the remainder of the season.
We have been through an excellent run of form in recent weeks which have seen us rise into the promotion places with a game in hand and Saturday was pencilled in by most fans as a home win that would have seen us remain at the top of the table. A table that sees so many sides bunched up behind us that a bad run of form could easily see us drop into the zone of mid table within just a few games.
The first two of the next series of games will both provide a stern test for the Swans. Grimsby have lost just once in their last six games whilst Bristol Rover will arrive in two weeks and currently sit fourth despite picking up just 2 wins in their last 6 games. Anything more than 2 points out of these games I would feel would be a good return – 4 or more an excellent return.
After those games we prepare to face Darlington (Home), Shrewsbury (Away), Bury (Home) and Oxford (Away) all of them on paper appearing to be very winnable fixtures. The downside of these games is they are sandwiched around the opening two rounds of the FA Cup that we must ensure do not become a distraction to the main target of this season and that is promotion. Of these four games I honestly believe that the Swans have to be aiming for a minimum of 8 points and realistically 10 if they are to push hard and start pushing some distance between themselves and the chasing pack.
Following these games, the run to the New Year only really appears to be Scunthorpe as a game that we maybe wouldn’t pencil in as a great chance of a win as Notts County and Boston visit the Vetch and Kidderminster are our opponents away on Boxing Day. A further 7 points at minimum from these games would see us heading into 2005 with a total somewhere around 45 points or more, a good enough base to push for automatic promotion just past the halfway stage of the season.
As you will see from our upcoming opponents, Scunthorpe aside, the next two games are likely to be the toughest tests that we face this side of New Year’s Day and therefore even the unthinkable of two defeats should not be catastrophic on that basis?
Not playing on the weekend could have altered our momentum slightly but I also do think that it has given us enough chance to re-charge the batteries ahead of two of the most difficult games that we are likely to face this season.
Fingers crossed anyway