League One: Who needs what to beat the drop, win title or make play-offs on final day?

League One: Who needs what to beat the drop, win title or make play-offs on final day?

Who will join Bradford in the relegation zone?

One game left. Three relegation places to be filled. Six possible contenders – two of whom are playing each other in a match where at least one of them will be relegated, possibly both.

And there are a couple of other issues to be settled – the title is still at stake, as is the last play-off place.

It’s Saturday evening entertainment. Welcome to League One’s madcap final furlong.

So, what’s at stake?

The bottom half of League One has been separated by fine margins for much of the season. As late as Easter Monday, as the 44th round of games were played, no side in the bottom half were yet mathematically safe.

And while bottom club Bradford City’s fate was sealed on 19 April, there are six sets of fans who will be biting their nails going into Saturday’s final regular-season fixtures.

When you add in a last-gasp managerial sacking, and the fact that two of the six teams will meet each other – in a game where the result will massively affect other teams’ chances – it promises to be a frenzied evening.

Who’s playing who? And who needs what?

(League positions in brackets)

So, who will join Bradford in League Two next season, and who will be celebrating a great escape? Here’s a look at how each team can sink or swim, starting with the most vulnerable.

Scunthorpe United (23rd place, 46 points, goal difference -29)

The only way is up for caretaker boss Andy Dawson – as only a win will give Scunthorpe a chance of survival

Who are they playing? It’s a long trip south for the Iron, who must brave the Bank Holiday traffic to travel to relegation rivals Plymouth Argyle, who sit just one point and two places above them. One or both teams will be relegated.

How can they go down? Fail to win at Home Park and Scunthorpe are relegated. But not even a victory will be enough if both Southend and Walsall win. If one of those clubs wins, Scunthorpe would need AFC Wimbledon to lose heavily enough for the Iron to make up an eight-goal swing in goal difference.

How can they stay up? By overtaking three of the clubs above them – beating Plymouth and hoping both Southend and Walsall fail to win. Or, if one of them wins, hope AFC Wimbledon take a hammering at Bradford to make up that eight-goal swing.

More implausibly, if Walsall win, Scunthorpe can overtake them by winning by seven more goals than the Saddlers do.

Reasons to be cheerful: As only a win will do, the Iron can be as gung-ho as they like – and are facing a Plymouth side who have lost five on the bounce and sacked their manager after a 5-1 hiding at Accrington last Saturday.

Reasons to be miserable: Scunthorpe have failed to score in three of their last four games, lost to relegated Bradford last week, and haven’t won in eight. They also have the division’s worst defensive record.

Walsall (22nd place, 46 points, GD -22)

Walsall must not only win at Shrewsbury – but get help from elsewhere

Who are they playing? The Saddlers make the short trip along the M54 to Shrewsbury Town, who ensured their own safety with Sunday’s draw at Coventry.

How can they go down? Like Scunthorpe, Walsall are doomed if they fail to win – and possibly even if they do win. A victory will not be enough if Southend and Plymouth win – or if one of them wins and AFC Wimbledon avoid defeat.

How can they stay up? As well as a win, Walsall need help from other games. They need two of the following three scenarios – Plymouth failing to beat Scunthorpe, Southend failing to win, or AFC Wimbledon losing.

Reasons to be cheerful: They have a short journey to a mid-table team, and ended an eight-game winless run by beating Peterborough 3-0 last Saturday.

Reasons to be miserable: Only AFC Wimbledon have scored fewer goals on the road in League One than the Saddlers, who have not won away since 19 January.

Plymouth Argyle (21st place, 47 points, GD -25)

Heads will roll at Home Park, where at least one of the two teams will be relegated – possibly both

Who are they playing? Managerless Argyle entertain relegation rivals Scunthorpe United, for whom only a win will do. One or both teams will be relegated.

How can they go down? Plymouth will be relegated if they lose, or if they draw while Southend avoid defeat or Walsall win.

Even a victory is not enough for them if Southend win, AFC Wimbledon avoid defeat (as Plymouth would need to win by four or more goals to overtake the Dons if they draw) and Wycombe avoid the sort of heavy defeat which would allow Plymouth to make up a 12-goal swing.

How can they stay up? If they win and overtake any of the three teams above them – so if Southend fail to win, AFC Wimbledon lose, or Wycombe take a pounding which allows a 12-goal swing in Plymouth’s favour. The Devon side can also overtake Wimbledon by winning by four clear goals if the Dons can only draw.

At a pinch, a draw might keep Plymouth up – but only if Southend lose and Walsall fail to win.

Reasons to be cheerful: Plymouth are the bottom half of the table’s top scorers at home – and as it’s “win or bust” for the visitors, there are bound to be gaps in the division’s worst defence for Argyle to exploit.

Reasons to be miserable: They have lost their last five games, and have not won in eight.

Southend United (20th place, 47 points, GD -14)

If they don’t win, Southend will need to keep an ear out for the Plymouth-Scunthorpe result – as a draw in that game could help the Shrimpers

Who are they playing? The Shrimpers host fourth-placed Sunderland, who are destined for the play-offs after losing their game in hand in midweek.

How can they go down? Southend are automatically down if they lose – but their fans would be advised to sign up to BBC Sport goal alerts for the Plymouth-Scunthorpe game, which will have a huge bearing on where they finish.

If the Shrimpers draw, they will be relegated if either Plymouth or Scunthorpe win their relegation shoot-out – or if Walsall win.

How can they stay up? Win and Southend will be safe (barring the absurd scenario that Plymouth win by 11 or more goals). The Essex side can also stay up with a draw if Plymouth-Scunthorpe finishes as a draw, and Walsall fail to win.

Reasons to be cheerful: Their fate is in their own hands. Their goal difference is so much better than four of the other five contenders, it is almost worth an extra point. And with Sunderland’s automatic promotion hopes over, might they rest players for the play-offs?

Reasons to be miserable: There’s no easy way of saying it – on paper, Kevin Bond’s side have the most difficult fixture of all the relegation-threatened teams. And they have only won one game since mid-January.

AFC Wimbledon (19th place, 49 points, GD -21)

Wimbledon striker James Hanson played in the 2013 League Cup final for Bradford – and faces his old club this weekend

Who are they playing? The Dons travel north to rock-bottom Bradford City, who were relegated a fortnight ago.

How can they go down? Defeat would leave Wimbledon vulnerable, and they would go down if two of the four teams below them win – Southend, Plymouth, Walsall or Scunthorpe – although the Iron would need an unlikely eight-goal swing to overhaul the Dons.

Wimbledon can also be relegated if they draw, Southend win and Plymouth beat Scunthorpe by four or more goals. (And should the Dons draw, Wycombe would only be brought into the equation if they suffer an eight-goal mauling).

How can they stay up? Win and they’re safe. Draw and they’re safe if Southend fail to win, or if Plymouth fail to win by a four-goal margin.

Realistically, the Dons can even afford to lose as long as no more than one of the four teams below them wins (and again, Scunthorpe would need to do so with an eight-goal swing).

Reasons to be cheerful: Wimbledon are unbeaten in six games, and have only lost once in 11, making them arguably the form team among the relegation-threatened sides. And their opponents have won once in nine.

Reasons to be miserable: They’re League One’s lowest scorers with only 18 goals from 22 away games. Goal difference means a draw may not be enough.

Wycombe Wanderers (18th place, 50 points, GD -13)

Wycombe should be celebrating another season in League One unless they suffer a heavy defeat and Plymouth thrash Scunthorpe, by a combined total of 12 goals

Who are they playing? The Chairboys host mid-table Fleetwood Town at Adams Park.

How can they go down? Only with one particular combination of results – if Wycombe lose, Wimbledon and Southend both win, and Plymouth win with a 12-goal swing over the Chairboys.

How can they stay up? Very easily. With only the above combination sending them down, even a narrow defeat would not endanger Gareth Ainsworth’s side.

Reasons to be cheerful: Most of the major bookmakers are not even offering odds on Wycombe’s relegation, so unlikely is the set of results which would send them down. The shortest odds that are offered are in the region of 250-1.

Reasons to be miserable: Well… Wycombe have lost 11 of their last 14 games, and it ain’t over til it’s over.

What’s going on up top?

Luton and Barnsley were both promoted without kicking a ball in midweek after rivals Portsmouth and Sunderland lost their games in hand, so all that remains for them is the destiny of the title.

With the sides level on points, Luton, who entertain mid-table Oxford, hold a four-goal advantage in goal difference over the Tykes, who travel to 16th-placed Bristol Rovers.

So, barring a Barnsley goal-fest (or a Hatters defensive catastrophe), Luton will lift the title if they match their rivals’ result.

Any other business?

Just one more issue to be settled. With Portsmouth, Sunderland and Charlton assured of their play-off places, the last spot is between Doncaster and Peterborough. Both teams are at home to an upper mid-table side, in Coventry and Burton respectively.

Doncaster are one point and nine goals better off than Peterborough, so realistically, Posh can only finish in the top six if they win and Rovers fail to.

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