After such a long, dramatic and thoroughly entertaining campaign, this Easter period is the time when things start to get settled in Sky Bet League Two – the potential, hope, expectation and fear can become reality – either glorious or painful.
This weekend delivers 50% of the remaining four games and so we can expect the drama, entertainment and nerves to continue.
One thing we do already know is that Lincoln City will be in Sky Bet League One next season after confirming promotion last weekend. A huge congratulations to Danny Cowley’s side on an excellent campaign from start to finish. After play-off heart break last season, they showed what clever tinkering, not panicking and keeping continuity can do for you – elements some clubs in the higher leagues could learn from.
The Imps will be crowned champions if they win on Friday away at Carlisle, before hosting Tranmere on Monday.
Bury are also closing in on promotion after returning to winning ways over Colchester last time out. They'll be looking to beat Newport on Friday away and see both Mansfield and MK Dons fail to gain three points in order to bolster their position in the top two.
Unbeaten in three, Mansfield take on Morecambe and Oldham, while MK Dons have a huge chance to right back-to-back defeats at they face Notts County and Port Vale. However, the Dons only have one win in four against John Askey’s side.
Tranmere remain in the automatic hunt as Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month for March, Micky Mellon, has guided them to just one loss in 12 matches, winning nine of those.
That form will be tested to the extreme against Forest Green – currently four points behind Rovers – and Lincoln.
For Forest Green, a trip to Cambridge follows their match with Rovers, as they look to build on consecutive wins.
Exeter are holding off Carlisle in that final play-off spot with four points separating the two. Crawley and Stevenage make up The Grecians Bank Holiday fixtures, while Carlisle host Lincoln and then travel to Grimsby, a side that defeated United back in October.
As we move to the bottom, we see that Easter could represent Notts County and Yeovil Town’s last chance to remain afloat.
Both could be relegated over these four days. For that to happen they’d have to lose both matches and see Macclesfield win their two.
Sol Campbell’s outfit have lost one in six and go to Northampton before a home tie with play-off chasing Newport. Notts County take on MK Dons and a Crawley side still not completely safe from being sucked into the basement battle.
For Yeovil their opportunity to end a run of seven without victory comes against mid-table Crewe and a Colchester side still in with a top seven shout.
With the U’s facing Yeovil and, before that, Grimsby, they will feel they have an excellent chance of ending three without a win and closing that five-point gap.
Stevenage, also on 60 points, will feel the same and will be in more confident mood than their rivals of doing that thanks to consecutive victories. Now they take on Port Vale and that side holding seventh place currently, Exeter – what a game this could be and why we love the Easter programme so much.
Newport, yet another side on 60, are unbeaten in five, winning three of those and face two sides at the opposite ends of the division in Bury and Macclesfield. Will Newport inspire their own dreams while denting those of their opponents?
Swindon – guess what – on 60 too, have drawn their last three in a run of six unbeaten. But it’s three points, not one that you need at this stage of the campaign. Cambridge and Crewe are their opportunities to achieve that.
Cambridge know one win against either Swindon or Forest Green could secure their Sky Bet League One status for another season, while Crawley can do the same if they beat Exeter and/or Notts County.
We go into Easter with three points between second and fifth; five separating seventh to 12th; and just two between 24th and 22nd. Easter will define the future of many clubs. So, do not take your eyes of Sky Bet League Two over this extended weekend – it could look very different come Tuesday!