Robins fan Will Edden discusses whether the league is not as strong this year and the growing influence of Byron Harrison.
It's been a strange season.
I've lost count of the amount of times we've put it to bed. Us Cheltenham fans aren't used to finding ourselves in the middle – we lose and everybody is looking nervously over their shoulders – win a couple and people start whispering quietly about the play-offs like it's a taboo. This we have discovered, is the territory that comes with being a mid-table side.
Wycombe were the latest side to condemn us to the dreamy, dreary doldrums of mid-table, and once again our season is deemed all but over. It actually is remarkable that despite our flaws this campaign – and there have been many – our season isn't over. With nine games left we find ourselves sitting pretty in 11th and only six points from those elusive play-off spots.
Of course the point against the Chairboys takes us to five games unbeaten, but after going ahead in the second half we really ought to have seen that game out. Draws don't help an awful lot as we approach April. On a positive note it was good to see Byron Harrison get on the score sheet again and it was also really good to see him playing with confidence. The Byron of last year would have ambled around the final third, but on Tuesday night his dash to close down and challenge the Wycombe keeper earned one of the biggest cheers of the night. We take on his former club AFC Wimbledon on Saturday and it would be great if he could grab a goal against his old employers. Our away form has generally been better than our home form so don't bet against a Harrison goal in a Robins win!
Now I've heard many fans, and I've been amongst them, claiming that the league isn't as strong this year and that there are no outstanding teams in our company. It's an interesting thought and would explain why, despite our inconsistencies, we could mathematically still pay Wembley a visit before June.
I was keen to find evidence for this theory and checking the league table at the same stage for the previous two campaigns made for some very interesting reading.
Currently the League Two table for 2013/14 (19/03/14) reads:
1st – Rochdale p37 pts67
7th – Plymouth p37 pts54
The 2012/13 (12/03/13) table at the same stage read:
1st – Gillingham p37 pts70
7th – Exeter p38 pts60
And finally, the 2011/12 (20/03/12) table:
1st – Swindon p37 pts76
7th – Oxford p37 pts61
As you can see here those of us that have had a hunch that the top positions aren't as strong as recent years are correct. The evidence suggests that this time around the league is much more competitive as a whole. For me, the fact that there is a seven point swing in 7th position and a nine point swing in 1st position if you compare 2013/14 with 2011/12 is startling.
It's hard to draw any more definite conclusions from this, but it goes some way to explain why we are still in with a tiny, little shout of seventh spot. And if the team in seventh does win the play-offs this May, don't be surprised to see them come straight back down!
You can read more from our two official blog writers by clicking here.