OXFORD United’s defeat at Northampton Town on Tuesday night was a blow to their Sky Bet League One play-off hopes – but they remain in the mix.

The U’s, who sit 11th, are within one win of sixth-placed Blackpool in a congested promotion race.

The Seasiders have 56 points from 34 matches and if they continue at their current rate they will end the season on 76.

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But with some teams having up to three games in hand on others, it is perhaps better to look at the last ten seasons for an indicator of how many points United will need to make the play-offs.

Oxford Mail:

Since 2010/11, League One’s sixth-placed team have gained an average of 73.1 points over a 46-match campaign.

As a disclaimer, that includes last season, which was decided on points-per-game after fixtures were halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The average is boosted by 2019/20, when the sixth-placed side, Fleetwood Town, needed 60 points from 35 matches – a rate that would have put them on almost 79 over the whole campaign.

United finished fourth by that reckoning, thanks to their 3-2 win at Shrewsbury Town in the final game before the season was suspended.

The team finishing sixth has claimed 73 or 74 points in six of the last ten campaigns, while Chesterfield’s total of 69 in 2014/15 was the lowest.

United have 53 points with ten matches left, so need another 20 to reach 73.

It is not impossible, but the U’s have claimed just ten points from their last ten games so would need to double that figure in the next block.

On the flip side, United have racked up 40 points from 23 matches since their upturn in form began in December.

And in this most bizarre of seasons where the schedule is more congested than ever, we simply cannot predict what will happen over the next six weeks.

After the Northampton disappointment, head coach Karl Robinson insisted the U’s still think they can finish in the play-offs.

He said: “We know what we have to do.

“70-plus points from where we were is a good return.

“But we have to believe that we’re going to get that.”