League 2 permutations: 14 Feb 2017

What’s possible

Here are the highest and lowest possible positions that each club can occupy after the forthcoming round of fixtures. I’ve drawn lines under the automatic promotion and play-off spots, mid-table and the last spot above the relegation zone on both “axes” for ease of reference.

These graphics are explained here, but in a nutshell I crunch through every possible combination of results to work out how far it’s mathematically possible for each club to rise and fall.


Plymouth‘s eight-point lead – and game in hand – over Carlisle means that the current top two will remain so for the time being at least.

Luton can depose the Cumbrians from third place this evening but could also end up outside the play-offs altogether, with nobody guaranteed to be there on Wednesday morning.

At the bottom Newport can’t move out of the drop zone altogether but could leapfrog Leyton Orient. Orient can themselves move above up to three other sides, all of whom could replace them in the bottom two.

What’s likely

The above shows what’s mathematically possible but doesn’t make any allowances for what’s likely to happen, so I’ve come up with a second graphic that uses my E Ratings prediction model (used to simulate the forthcoming round of games thousands of times) to assign some probabilities to all these potential changes.

It’s structured very similarly to the one above: the clubs are still listed in the same order as the current league table down the side and the dividing lines are all in the same place, but now across each row is the percentage chance of them moving to other positions in the table. As above, green indicates a rise, red a drop and grey staying put. The darker the red or green, the higher the probability. If there’s no number in a square, it means that the club didn’t fill that position in any of the thousands of simulations I ran and is therefore very unlikely.


Plymouth need a big win at home to Orient and for Doncaster to lose at Carlisle in order to overtake Rovers at the top. This isn’t a particularly outlandish scenario but the seven-goal swing required makes it unlikely that the Pilgrims will move into top spot this evening.

Mansfield look slightly likelier than not to retain their spot in the play-offs this evening: they’re at home to Accrington while Wycombe – behind them on goal difference – travel to Crewe and Colchester – two points behind – host Crawley.

With Leyton Orient travelling to Plymouth their chances of moving out of the relegation zone aren’t great, although Newport need to beat Grimsby to have any chance of leapfrogging the struggling Londoners.