Sporting Life Preview December 29

WE have passed the halfway point of the season in Sky Bet League One and it is getting tight at the top of the table, with Portsmouth’s lead cut to a single point following Luton Town’s wonderful run of form.

The Hatters have won their last seven games in the league, boasting the best home record alongside that run. They are on the road again this week, which has not been too much of an issue, with four consecutive away wins in all competitions.

Walsall are looking to snap a three-game winless run, although they did pick up positive results against Sunderland and Coventry prior to that.

The current leaders will be looking to bounce back from defeat against Gillingham as they travel to take on Fleetwood. Pompey have won only one of their last four, and it will be a tough task as they come up against a Joey Barton side that has won five of their last six at home.

Chasing the top two down are Sunderland. They sit four points adrift currently, but they will be hopeful to be in a position where their two games in hand could be enough to fire them to the top of the charts.

The subject of a popular Netflix documentary this month, the Black Cats (and Bradford) should be applauded for the huge 46,000 crowd at the Stadium of Light for their Boxing Day game. This was a bigger capacity than the crowd at Wembley for Tottenham v Bournemouth in the Premier League. The home crowd will want another home victory this weekend as they take on Shrewsbury, who are looking to snap a three-game losing streak on the road.

Lee Bowyer has been winning the awards so far this season for his efforts with Charlton, and they currently sit fourth in the table.

They will be looking to bounce back from defeat to Coventry, although it will not be easy against a Barnsley side that has lost just once at home in all competitions this season, and that was on penalties.

Occupying the final play-off spot are Peterborough, who were beaten by Barnsley on their visit to Oakwell in midweek. Posh head to an Accrington side who will be looking to push themselves back towards the top six. Stanley have won their last three home games, also securing victory in four of their last five in all competitions.

Remaining firmly in the play-off hunt are Doncaster, who sit just two points behind Peterborough. Rovers lost to Fleetwood on Boxing Day, but can take confidence in the fact that they enjoyed an eight-game unbeaten run prior to that defeat.

Grant McCann’s men face a tough test this weekend against a Gillingham side who have lost just one of their last six. They will also be hopeful of victory here given their win over high-flying Portsmouth last time out.

Blackpool sit a place below Doncaster in the table, although need to close an eight-point gap if they are to make the play-offs.

The Tangerines travel to face AFC Wimbledon next. The Dons are enjoying life under Wally Downes’ leadership and have won their last two games, including against an Argyle side that will looking for a big performance at Burton, who have won three of their last four at the Pirelli Stadium.

Argyle to win and both teams to score has been boosted by Sky Bet by a point and a half to 9-1.

Also looking to move out of the relegation zone are Scunthorpe. The Iron are hoping to halt a run of seven consecutive losses and will look to capitalise on the fact that Wycombe have won only one of their last nine away. Wycombe have lost their last two, but they did pick up a draw and three victories in the four games prior to that.

Elsewhere, Oxford were beaten by Southend last time out, ending an impressive run of seven unbeaten in front of their own supporters - six of which were wins. They face a Bristol Rovers side who have been enjoying success away from home in recent weeks. Two of their last three have ended in victory.

David Hopkin’s Bradford were narrowly beaten by Sunderland last time out – although they had won their two games before that. The Bantams are on the road again this weekend as they go to Rochdale, who have won three of their last four.

Two sides who sit on 32 points meet at the Ricoh Arena as Coventry take on Southend. The Sky Blues snapped a four-game losing streak with that win over Charlton, while Southend have won three of their last five away.