There’s only seven games in Sky Bet League One this weekend. Sporting Life’s Tom Carnduff previews the upcoming action.
The fact that there are five games having to be called off due to the FA Cup fourth round is a signal of how strong the teams are in this division.
AFC Wimbledon, Accrington, Doncaster, Portsmouth, Shrewsbury and Gillingham continue to go strong in England’s cup competition, and they have been rewarded with tough contests against Premier League opposition.
Meanwhile in League One, Luton will be looking to capitalise on Portsmouth’s cup involvement and can go top of the standings with at least a point against Southend. The Hatters have continued to go from strength-to-strength, despite Nathan Jones departing for Stoke, and find themselves firmly in the mix for the title. Their home form has been a significant factor in their current position, but their efforts on the road have also played a part – posting the seventh best away record in the division.
Standing between them and the top is Southend, who could go to within six points of the play-offs with victory. The Shrimpers’ form has been a bit hit-and-miss in recent weeks, but they have won three of their last five at home in the league.
The eye-catching league one fixture of the weekend in this division comes at London Road, where Peterborough welcome fellow promotion hopefuls Charlton. Posh have struggled for consistency in recent weeks but most importantly they are still picking up points and remain in the top-six. Their home form has been quite strong too, losing just one of their last nine in all competitions in front of their own supporters.
Charlton meanwhile responded to back-to-back defeats away from home by beating Shrewsbury, following it up with a home win over Accrington. Sky Bet have Peterborough as the favourites, but Charlton aren’t much bigger in the betting which indicates how close this game is expected to be.
Burton put in a strong performance in their Carabao Cup semi-final second-leg clash with Manchester City on Wednesday, and they’ll be looking to build upon that as they welcome Bradford to the Pirelli Stadium. Prior to that game, Nigel Clough’s men were gaining good results in front of their own supporters. They’d picked up points in three of their four before the clash with City and can use that confidence here.
The Bantams enjoyed a strong December and looked like they were pulling themselves away from relegation trouble. However, back-to-back defeats sees them still in 23rd. A win here though could move them to within a point of safety, a good opportunity given the fact that Bristol Rovers and Oxford aren’t playing on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Barnsley could end Saturday a point off the top-two with victory over Rochdale. Daniel Stendel’s men are yet to be beaten at Oakwell in the league this season, winning eight of their 13 games at home. Rochdale are one of those teams looking to move away from the drop zone, although a result against a team of Barnsley’s quality will benefit hugely in the long run.
Coventry and Blackpool both sit on 39 points, and victory for either when the two sides meet will benefit their efforts of reaching the play-offs. Terry McPhillips has kept his Blackpool side steady in the top-half and always within reach of the top-six, posting a similar tally for both home and away games.
Coventry have been in decent form over the past five games though, despite picking up just one point in their last three. The Sky Blues have gained seven points from a last possible nine at home.
It’s an intriguing clash at Highbury Stadium where Fleetwood welcome Scunthorpe. Stuart McCall’s first transfer window has allowed him to bring players he wants to the club, and that has played a part in their current good run of results. The Cod Army are still in the running for the play-offs though and boast a four-game unbeaten run in the league. Their home form is strong too, winning three of their last five League One games in front of their own supporters.
Two other sides meeting this weekend are Wycombe and Plymouth with five points separating them in the table. Plymouth are going strong on a four-game winning run, one of those games being away, while Wycombe possess the seventh best home record in the league.
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