The Survival Challenge – Part 2

Welcome back. I had this wonderful idea in part 1, where I’d simulate a game to February and then take over a club in trouble and try and keep them up. It was going so well. We even won 5-0. But now it’s gone a bit wrong.

Here’s the state of play with just 6 games to go:

after man city

We have 6 cup finals (cliche klaxon) but that’s fine. We’re Swindon Town. We’re ready.

Michael Clegg is back from injury. He’s one of the discarded Man Utd youth who Steve McMahon decided to spend £600k on. He’s injured a lot, but he’s back in the fold here, at home to Stoke.

Stoke have Phil Mulryne on loan, who is now a vicar. That’s quite fitting as we need a miracle.

As it is, two goals before half time helps us to the first home win of my time in charge. Good.

Swindon 2 - 0 stoke

We are really at the mercy of other clubs though, so it is with great joy that I see Norwich lose 3-2 at home to Man City whilst Crewe surrender 2-0 at QPR. Bradford do win at Oxford, but I didn’t expect them to do us a favour

after stoke

It’s looking better but now we have a very difficult away game just two days later. One crumb of comfort is that Birmingham haven’t won in three. Can we take advantage of any fragility?

The short answer is: kind of

1-1 birmingham

George Ndah scores just before half time and despite me spending the break explaining the merits of keeping it tight, they equalise just two minutes after half time. It should be a good result, but Norwich, Bradford and Crewe all win. Explain this to me:

norwich & bradford

The fat lady is warming up her vocal chords

4 games left

Norwich have Birmingham next, no doubt they’ll bend over.

It’s Reading at home for us though, and all we can do is win and hope. The relief when Clintypoos scores is palpable

1-0 reading

I love you, Peter Van Vossen

norwich 1 - 1 brimingham

Crewe get a point at Port Vale but Bradford lose at home to Man City. Hmm.

3 games left

We’ve got to go to Charlton next, who are 6th, but we’ve got a chance. They’ve won one of their last 5 so they can’t be that good. We’re without the banned Ndah and the crocked McDonald, but we’re given a mighty helping hand and then seal the win in the second half. A great result

charlton 0 - 2 swindon

And so the endless wait for the scores to tick through, made all the worse by it being International friendlies day. As long as Norwich don’t win, we’ll be happy. We’re within striking distance of the other two.

They leave it late but Reading just about keep us alive

reading 1 - 1 norwich

Crewe and Bradford both lose – we’re off the bottom!

2 games to go

Norwich host Charlton next and finish away at Bury (19th). Bradford have a home game with Reading before going to Birmingham, whereas Crewe travel to Sunderland and then host Middlesbrough. We actually have Bury next, so they’re going to have a lot to say about how this finishes up.

We just get our bit done

swindon 1 - 0 bury

Norwich lose!

Norwich 0 - 1 charlton

Bradford snatch a point

bradford 3-3

Crewe pull off the shock win at Sunderland

mackems 1 - 3 crewe

Which remarkably puts us out of the bottom 3 but all four teams can survive going into the final day

1 game to go

Bloody hell.

So my 2 and a bit months spell in charge of Swindon comes down to this match. For the first time, it doesn’t matter what other teams do – a win will be enough

last day fixtures

We’ve definitely got the toughest fixture, and Crewe are the only side to have a home game. Maybe we can all just agree to lose and then we’ll stay up?

The team news is good, though everyone is a little bit tired as this match comes just two days after the last. Good old May day fixture list. For added drama, I’ll bring you this in the style of a clockwatch.

All four games kick off at the same time…

19 – Crewe 0 – 1 Middlesbrough (Marco Branca) – Early blow for Crewe as Branca capitalises on a defensive error to give Boro the lead.

27 – Reading 0 – 1 Bradford (Gordon Watson) – Bradford are out of the relegation zone as it stands, Gordon Watson heading in from a corner

31 – Bury 1 – 0 Norwich (Neale Fenn) – Fenn’s goal puts the Canaries in a world of trouble as they now need to score twice as it stands.

37 – Crewe 0 – 2 Middlesbrough (Shaun Smith own goal) – Is that the final nail in Crewe’s coffin?

40 – Crewe 1 – 2 Middlesbrough (James Collins) – Maybe not! Collins gives Crewe a sniff of survival.

42 – Reading 1 – 1 Bradford (Stuart Talbot) – Bradford are back in the relegation zone as Stuart Talbot equalises for Reading. That means Swindon are back safe where they started the day.

44 – Crewe 2 – 2 Middlesbrough (Stephen Halliday)  – What a turnaround! Crewe are level and one more goal could see them stay up.

Half time scores:

Bury 1 – 0 Norwich

Crewe 2 – 2 Middlesbrough

Reading 1 – 1 Bradford

Sheff Utd 0 – 0 Swindon

57 – Reading 2 – 1 Bradford (Ray Houghton) – Oh what have you done Ray Houghton? He’s scored for Reading and Bradford are stuck on the bottom of the table

82 – Penalty to Reading! But Neil Rimmer smashes it over the bar. Bradford still in with a shout.

FULL TIME – Swindon Survive

Fraser Digby picks up man of the match for holding Sheffield United off for 90 minutes. The nervous wait for results see none of our rivals win and we’re staying up! We’ve done it!

sheff utd 0 - 0 swindon

Let’s see that all important confirmation

46 played

The division’s lowest scorers survive, 4 consecutive clean sheets to finish and that’s 8 in my 12 matches. Build from the back lads. Wicksy was unbelievable, playing 11 games and averaging 7.72 whilst Digby finishes the season having played 36 games at 7.58 including 9 man of the match awards. Tomlinson’s 4 in 10 was a very useful contribution but my word, that was hard work.

Give it a go yourselves and send them through to me on Twitter or in the comments. I hope it is a lot easier for you all than it was for me!


1 thought on “The Survival Challenge – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Saving Vale from Fail – Part 1 | CM 97/98

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