College football – the race for promotion

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At the halfway stage of this term and the three-quarter mark of the JCR League season, there are still many vital issues to be decided. For all but the giants of the Premier League, a successful season means only one thing- promotion. The battle for places in the top tier of the JCR League is still far from over, while the Division Two title race looks like it might go right down to the wire. Most teams only have a handful of games left to play, but fans and players alike will no doubt be nervously biting their nails as the promotion run-in reaches its climax.

DIVISION ONE
In Division One, St Catz are undoubtedly in the driving seat, as they lead second place Magdalen by a comparatively massive seven points. They face a potentially tricky run-in, including fellow promotion chasers Christ Church both home and away, but should be nailed on for a return to the promised land. Beyond that, it really is anyone’s guess who will claim the remaining promotion spots. Second-place Magdalen are in a strong position as they have a game in hand on the teams around them. Their run-in also features three eminently winnable home games. However, Christ Church are still far from out of it. In spite of a few shaky defensive displays, they are in reasonable form. Having said that, they still have to take on St Catz twice in quick succession. Any slip up for them would allow fourth place Exeter to perhaps steal in and grab a second consecutive promotion. They should definitely be seen as dark horses for a promotion spot, bearing in mind that they are still to play bottom of the table Somerville twice. The likes of LMH, Keble and Balliol, all tied on 18 points, would still regard themselves as in with a chance, but a late promotion charge from any of them would be a real surprise.

DIVISION TWO
The Division One promotion race may be tight, but it is nothing compared to the epic battle going on in Oxford’s basement division. Perhaps as many as six of the division’s nine teams are still in with a shout of promotion. Univ are currently leading the way on 25 points, but Merton-Mansfield trail by only three points and crucially have two games in hand. Adding further spice to the matter, the top two are still yet to play each other this season. The two games between the pair, scheduled for the next two Fridays, could decide the destination of the Division Two title. However, the chasing pack are still hot on their heels. Corpus-Linacre currently sit in third, just two points behind Merton. They also have the services of JCR League top scorer Luke Bennett at their disposal. Having said this, recent defeats to Univ both home and away will have come as a massive blow to their hopes of going up. A few months ago St John’s looked out of it, but a fine run of results, including a 5-0 home win over a solid Merton-Mansfield team, have propelled them to fourth place. It would be a real surprise if they overhauled Univ’s lead though, bearing in mind the five-point gap. Behind John’s lie Trinity and Pembroke, both teams relegated from Division One last season. Both teams have struggled slightly, and on first glance look out of the promotion shake-up. They both have games in hand on the top teams though, and while they would no doubt prefer to have points on the board, they may still play a role in the run-in.

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