League One Preview
AFTER such a long, dramatic and thoroughly entertaining campaign, this Easter period is the time when things start to get settled in Sky Bet League One – the potential, hope, expectation and fear can become reality – either glorious or painful.
This weekend delivers 50% of the remaining four games for the majority of our clubs and so we can expect the drama, entertainment and nerves to continue.
At the top, Luton Town will be promoted to the Sky Bet Championship if they win both of their matches and their rivals drop points. Facing two teams fighting to secure their League One status in Accrington and AFC Wimbledon mean it won’t be easy for Mick Harford’s side, especially against a Dons outfit that are unbeaten in three.
Second placed Barnsley got back to winning ways last weekend against Fleetwood and now face Shrewsbury and a long trip to Plymouth, an outfit they’ve failed to beat in their last three meetings.
What a game we witnessed between Sunderland and Coventry – surely a contender for EFL game of the season - as Mark Robin’s side took the spoils 5-4. Sunderland still have a game in hand on the teams above them, but know they cannot dwell on that defeat as Easter will be defining for them with fellow promotion contenders Doncaster Rovers and Peterborough in their way.
The Posh face a difficult process in closing the gap of five points on Rovers, with Fleetwood and the Black Cats up next.
Charlton sit just three off Barnsley and go to Oxford before hosting Scunthorpe. They will be wary of slip ups, having not beaten Oxford in their previous six meetings.
A run of five straight wins have put Portsmouth right in automatic promotion contention again, especially with their game in hand. Burton and Coventry must be seen off to keep that hope alive.
Talking of Mark Robins’ side, they have the potential of making Easter miserable for their opponents. Beating Pompey would dent their automatic dreams, but they could be even more devastating to Bradford City on Friday. The Bantams have lost their last six games and defeat to Coventry will see City officially relegated back to Sky Bet League Two.
With 12 points still up for grabs and six points separating 21st to 13th and just eight between 23rd and 13th we know anything can still happen in this unpredictable, ridiculously close and competitive season. That’s especially true with so many of that bottom 12 facing each other over the Bank Holiday weekend.
What a game we have on Friday with second bottom Walsall at home to third bottom Southend. A draw is no good for either side in their fight to get out of the drop zone and expect both sides to really go for it. Who will hold their nerve to get the big points?
For Walsall they then face Wycombe, so know two wins can pull them out of it, and potentially drag the Wanderers into it.
Like Walsall, Wycombe play sides around them, with Rochdale away on the Friday, so know their future is in their own hands.
Dale themselves also have Bristol Rovers, who know two more wins could secure their safety after their injury time win over Bradford last time out.
Blackpool have endured a mix time of late, with one win, two draws and a loss in their last four. Scunthorpe and a middle of the table clash with Fleetwood provide their Easter programme.
Gillingham are another outfit still looking over their shoulder after no wins in three. Taking on two sides below them in Plymouth and Bradford represents a great chance to move up and away for good, but a bad Easter could suck them right in.
Scunthorpe urgently need to halt a run of no wins in five as they take on Blackpool and Charlton, a side they beat 5-3 back in October.
Burton, destined for a solid top half finish in their first season back in Sky Bet League One, will look to extend their five-match unbeaten run as they host Portsmouth and travel to Southend.
With three points between second and fifth; eight separating sixth and eighth; and eight between 23rd and 13th do not take your eyes of Sky Bet League One over Easter – it could look very different come Tuesday.
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