The clock, as they say, is ticking. Some nights are bigger than others, as this evening most certainly is for York City and Doncaster Rovers. Not forgetting Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley, Middlesbrough, Bradford. Any more for any more...
Here’s five observations ahead of weekend programme.
1: Sheffield Wednesday v MK Dons. An Owls victory should allay any vestiges of nerves.
Five points clear of seventh place with four games to go, how Sheffield Wednesday would have taken that position at the season’s outset with that factor affording clear perspective for any Owls fan getting a bit twitchy.
The fixture list has been kind tonight for the Owls, without a win in a couple of games, with MK Dons, with just two away wins this term and destined for League One, due in at S6.
Cardiff may not be out of the play-off fight quite yet, but a comprehensive win over MK would trigger a fair amount of deflation in the principality and put Wednesday in the right place ahead of Saturday’s big one at Derby. Nearly there...
The Owls served up a pre-game boost with Carlos Carvalhal signing a contract extension - no coincidence that - and the task is to now seal a positive 24 hours on a winning note. If the hosts can be a bit more clinical than Saturday, things should take care of themselves.
2: Barnsley v Peterborough. The Reds awaiting to strike and perfectly placed.
With four games left, there is still plenty of time for the Reds to nail down sixth place, with Paul Heckingbottom’s outfit just two points behind faltering Gillingham and three behind fifth-placed Millwall.
Both the Gills and Lions will be wary of Barnsley and with good reason, more especially if they turn up the heat with victory over Posh tonight ahead of Saturday’s South Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane.
Barnsley, who have won 14 of their last 20 last games, have the pedigree and match-winning performers such as Adam Hammill, Sam Winnall and Conor Hourihane who would walk into any side at the top of the table. If they are running hot between now and May 8, the Reds have every chance.
3: Chesterfield v Doncaster Rovers. Rovers can ill afford an ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’ performance.
Outstanding - about time - against Wigan, with Saturday’s victory as welcome as it was unexpected, Rovers are back in action quickly with a local derby at Chesterfield, with Darren Ferguson mighty glad there is an immediate chance to gain more valuable momentum.
Despite the obvious relief at the weekend win, Rovers are still on a wing and a prayer and are still six points away from safety with four games to go. But if they follow up Saturday’s fine win with another three-pointer at Chesterfield, then the Great Escape will start to look a bit more realistic.
The Spireites are not out of the relegation woods yet, while two sides that Rovers are chasing in Fleetwood and Shrewsbury face toughies tonight against Millwall and Sheffield United. Stranger things have happened...
4: Coventry City v Bradford City. The Bantams minding the gap? No, looking ahead.
City will be seeking to make up for coughing up two weekend points at Shrewsbury across the Midlands at Coventry tonight.
While many in the claret and amber will no doubt be looking over their shoulder towards developments, with Yorkshire rivals Barnsley, just outside the play-off positions, being five points behind them, that brings with it inherent dangers.
Phil Parkinson will no doubt be imploring his side to look the other way, namely towards second-placed Burton, who may be six points clear of them, but host leaders Wigan tonight. The Brewers have taken just two points from the last 15 and haven’t won in five - not great timing.
Victory over the Sky Blues - a side who are pleasing on the eye, but not the most resolute at the back - tonight will provide the perfect fillip for a huge weekend game with third-placed Walsall for City.
5: York City v Portsmouth. This is it...
York’s season has been, let’s face it, pure torture. While relegation out of the Football League will be a grievous wound if it is realised tonight, it has been coming for the last few months, let alone weeks.
A case of when, not if with Jackie MacNamara the first to accept that a miracle is required to stay up.
If demotion is confirmed this evening, there will be a few tears granted, but also the realisation that it is hardly a seismic shock, with planning - after a brief period of mourning - likely to start in earnest for next season relatively quickly.
York will be relegated if they don’t beat Pompey, who have lost just once in their past eight games. But even if they win, they will still go down if Newport beat Oxford and Stevenage draw with Bristol Rovers.