It’s all come down to this – all of the hard-work over 45 matches can be reduced to nothing on the final match if it matters. In the case of the last playoff spot, that’s the very situation for both Doncaster and Peterborough. We couldn’t do it on the final day, could we?
Well, if the jaw-dropping victory away at Fratton Park on Tuesday is anything to go by, you can’t rule Posh out by any means, as they won very much against the odds. With Doncaster very much in the driving seat over their destiny, Posh will be waiting in the shadows again and ready to sweep up 6th spot if Donny fail to win and Posh pull off 3 points against Burton. Even so, if the opportunity was there to reverse the positions of the sides before the pivotal match day, Posh would bite their hand off for that.
Doncaster’s task on Saturday is a simple one – win, and that spot is theirs’. But, it looked simple for them to beat Accrington as did the task presented to ex-automatic promotion hopefuls Portsmouth to win against us. Both of the favoured outcomes never materialised, and thus a third surprise in the recent list of shocks could materialise.
Both McCann and Fergie have tough matches in their final battle for that 6th spot, Posh and Doncaster play host to the teams directly below them in the league. 8th placed Coventry travel to The Keepmoat, and 9th placed Burton Albion travel to London Road – both 5:30 kick-offs, meaning Posh fans and vice versa will be scrambling for their smartphones on updates at both matches. Donny will be less anxious about keeping tabs on their counterpart. If they win, the Posh result is an irrelevancy.
There is a danger to that though, as if Doncaster become arrogant, Coventry could nick a point or even three. Coventry, who before an away defeat to Pompey, have a very respectable away record in the league. Further, albeit from dropping points here and there, they could’ve been the late challenger for 6th spot. Therefore, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for Coventry to win.
But, it also wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for Posh to succumb to a final day defeat, as Burton are no pushovers. This was showcased in their last match, overcoming Luton who would go on to be promoted even in spite of The Brewers winning 2-1 against them at The Pirelli. An ex Posh man, who had a torrid 6-month spell with us, will want to deny Posh promotion you’d imagine – Colin Daniel was altogether hopeless, and so will be up for denying the club he performed so poorly for as he lines up with his relatively new teammates. Still, it’s not a foregone conclusion that Posh will win and even pressurise Donny. Yet, no one expected a win at Pompey.
“the crucial component of this head-to-head fight for 6th will come down to whoever has the bottle required on that final day”
That away victory might mean Doncaster become full of nerves, become anxious and altogether timid to go out and dispatch of The Sky Blues – that could play into Posh’ hands quite nicely and could see Posh into the playoffs which seemed so unlikely after a whole host of defeats to Plymouth, Bradford and Wimbledon.
In my honest opinion, I do think it will be a tough ask. But, I thought it was near impossible we’d win at Fratton Park to even get to this point in time – therefore, I think predictions might be altogether pointless. The crucial component of this head to head fight for 6th will come down to whoever has the bottle required on that final day – will Donny fade away if they see themselves 1-0 down early on, and will Posh, if they fail from the get-go, roll over and allow ex Posh manager McCann a shot at the playoffs.
It’ll be down to the psychological, who is prepared to fight for that final spot. If Fratton Park is a barometer for Posh’ fight, why can’t they snatch 6th away from the favourites? All I know is, Doncaster better fear us.