First of all I have to pay tribute to the 120 or so devoted fans who travelled to Home Park Plymouth for the away thrashing that probably consigns us to playing Southend and Peterborough in League 1 next season. They are the true supporters of football at any level and from what I read in the papers the next day it seems that they have more faith than I do in the ability of our players to drag themselves out of trouble. There comes a time however when you have to get real and acknowledge your fate. Our fate, sad to say, is no longer totally in our hands. We rely on results in other parts of the country every week now. Realistically we need six wins out of the last 11 games and that's as many as we've managed all season in 35 games.
In the immediate future my eyes are on Scunthorpe, Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry and I wish them all the worst over the next nine and a half weeks - especially as we have to play all three of them in the run down. Looking further afield Preston, Leicester, Southampton and the other Sheffield outfit are possibly within range so my bad luck charms extend in their direction too - and two of these are also on our final checklist, so maybe we will have a little more say in the final reckoning after all.
But what of the good old U's and the Layer Road effect of last season? Is it just possible that even our own players are starting to feel intimidated by their own secret weapon - that they no longer feel welcome at Layer Road? Perhaps they have been spoilt by playing in the larger stadia which have seen some keen top flight conflicts over the years. Maybe they've had one eye on the new ground and are dreaming of future success in front of a capacity 10,000 crowd (or larger in years to come). Over the last few weeks it certainly seems as though the fans (myself included) have had their thoughts elsewhere during some games. Let's face it, at times the performance has left some people wishing they were somewhere else, and several of them have demonstrated that by leaving early.
I wonder how much effect the support from the terraces and stands really does have on a team's performance. I've speculated before whether the team needs to play well before the fans will respond or whether the fans need to be in full voice before the players even consider coming out for some pre-match practice.
Without a doubt we will be there to the very last home game hoping for a magical turnaround in performance and results along the way. I'm sure the 120 true fans will also be at Scunthorpe for the final game of the season. Is it too much to ask that this will be a final battle for survival - the winner gets to play at Derby next season?