THE six-goal thriller against rivals Shrewsbury Town has left Wrexham in 6th place in the third division. At last, we seem to be consolidating our position towards the top of the table, and with games in hand promotion via the automatic positions or the play-offs looks increasingly possible.
Players and managers invariably say that the bottom division is a "difficult one to get out of", but I beg to differ. The fact that the Dragons put in a run of mediocre, tentative performances recently ... and still look odds-on for a play-off place suggests to me that the basement division is a poor one and, actually, quite easy to get out of if you do the basics right eg. win at home and don't lose too many away.
It is also interesting that at present only five points separate Kidderminster in 11th place and Bournemouth in 3rd. This adds further fuel to my argument. Apart from Hartlepool, there appears to very little genuine quality in our division. That Wrexham could ease past second-placed Rushden and Diamonds so easily last Saturday is crucial evidence here.
The teams in the top half of the table are very much of a muchness - and this can only benefit Smith's men as the season draws towards its climax.
This is my view of the 11 teams in contention for promotion:
Hartlepool United (Currently 1st): They look uncatchable now - the one formidable team in the division. Prediction: AUTOMATIC PROMOTION.
Rushden and Diamonds (2nd): Their form has tailed off and at the Racecourse last Saturday they looked distinctly ordinary. I think they could sink even further. Prediction: PLAY-OFFS.
AFC Bournemouth (3rd): They've gone 14 games without a home defeat and brushed off the Dragons a few weeks ago. Their star is in the ascendant. Prediction: AUTOMATIC PROMOTION.
Scunthorpe United (4th): Their form is good - another away win on Tuesday night - but they didn't look convincing at the Racecourse recently. Prediction: STAYING DOWN.
Lincoln City (5th): They've got the best form in the whole division and the meanest defence (only 28 goals conceded in 35 games). And Wrexham play them today! Prediction: AUTOMATIC PROMOTION.
Wrexham (6th): We're on a decent run, but we remain terribly unpredictable. We shouldn't expect too much. Prediction: PLAY-OFFS.
Bury (7th): They've slumped recently and could get pushed out. Prediction: STAYING DOWN.
Oxford United (8th): Inconsistent, but should be in the shake-up. Prediction: PLAY-OFFS.
Torquay United (9th): Another in-and-out side. Prediction: STAYING DOWN.
York City (10th): Off-the-field problems could hamper them. Prediction: STAYING DOWN.
Kidderminster Harriers (11th): I rate the Worcestershire side and they could still leap-frog over other more fancied teams. The game against the Reds on 19 April could be crucial for everyone. At present they're only two points off seventh place. Prediction: PLAY-OFFS.