WANDERERS’ chances of survival are statistically-slim if they remain in the Championship’s bottom two this weekend.

Phil Parkinson’s side sit second-bottom and have one final chance to get out of the relegation zone completely by Christmas Day when they take on Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City at the Macron tomorrow.

Only a win would be good enough to leapfrog Sunderland and Burton, and that is assuming their results also go the way of the Whites.

A glance at the last 20 years of league tables at this time of year gives a chilling reminder of the fate which often befalls a team in the bottom three at the half-way stage.

In two decades, only FIVE teams have escaped relegation if they were in the bottom two on December 25.

The survival rate improves to the teams placed 22nd after 23 games, with a quarter of teams eventually escaping relegation.

And bizarrely, the survival rates actually decreases for teams which sit just above the bottom three in 21st place, with six going on to drop through the trap door by May.

There have been some remarkable escapes, however, and Parkinson may want to seek some survival tips from Crewe, who have twice scrambled for safety to make themselves the rarest of Championship examples.

Dario Gradi’s side were favourites to go straight back down to Division Two in 1997/98 and looked destined to fulfil the prophecy as they sat second-bottom at Christmas.

But a wonderful run of seven wins in eight games through January and February – one of which came at home to Manchester City – took them clear of trouble.

They finished 11th and 11 points clear of the bottom three.

No side in the relegation zone on Christmas Day was relegated that season, as Stan Ternent’s Bury (17th) and Alan Ball’s Portsmouth (20th) also made late escapes.

A year later Crewe were at it again. They won just two of their first 22 games and were still 11 points adrift of safety by February.

A win against Wanderers actually started the charge – Rodney Jack scoring twice in a 3-1 victory over Colin Todd’s side – and the Railwaymen lost just three of their last 14 games, beating Portsmouth on the penultimate weekend to ensure safety.

Only two other sides who have been in the bottom two at Christmas have ended up beating relegation in the last 20 years, the first of which was Grimsby Town, managed by ex-Wanderers assistant boss Lennie Lawrence.

The Mariners had beaten Liverpool at Anfield in the League Cup and briefly led the First Division until an end-of-year slump left them second-bottom on December 25.

They secured safety in style, however, beating Wimbledon 6-2 and Crystal Palace 5-2 and Burnley 3-1 on a solid late run to finish up 19th.

Doncaster Rovers are the most recent escapologist, finishing a respectable 14th in 2008/09 despite winning sitting rock-bottom after winning four of their first 24 games. The goals of Paul Heffernan helped Sean O’Driscoll’s men mount a run of 11 wins in 13 games from January to March to take them clear of trouble.