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Sky Bet EFL: Matchday preview

Posted: Fri 17 Mar 2017
Author: Alex Butcher
Lee Gregory 8x6

Lee Gregory

Image by: Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

Another EFL weekend is approaching, with all our clubs in action across the next three days.

Here's a look at what's coming up...

Sky Bet Championship masthead - 600w

East Midlands encounter; new men in charge


The latest East Midlands clash between Nottingham Forest and Derby sees a new set of managers in charge for the fifth straight derby.

Gary Brazil had been overseeing things at the City Ground since Philippe Montanier's departure, but Mark Warburton took control of first-team affairs earlier this week.

Meanwhile, at the Rams, Gary Rowett has returned to his former club to fill the void left by Steve McClaren.

It's the perfect opportunity for both managers to become instant heroes, and they go head-to-head in Nottingham in a 1pm kick-off.

Last five East Midlands derby managers:

January 2015: McClaren v Pearce
November 2015: Freedman v Clement
March 2016: Wassall v Williams
December 2016: McClaren v Montanier
March 2017: Warburton v Rowett

TV for the title-chasers

The race for automatic promotion, and indeed the Sky Bet Championship title, is still very much alive.

Huddersfield are still the slight outsiders, but they have the perfect chance to pile on the pressure when they visit a Bristol City side on the fringes of relegation on Friday night.

Then, on Saturday evening, Brighton go to Play-Off hopefuls Leeds United in a 5:30pm kick-off.

Sky Sports is the place to be – they are screening both games live.

TV Games: EFL fixtures chosen for Sky Sports coverage

Around the grounds

Rotherham United travel to Queens Park Rangers in the knowledge that they could be relegated should they fail to win.

That depends on the results of Blackburn Rovers, Burton Albion and Nottingham Forest who are all at home. Rovers, unbeaten in six under Tony Mowbray, play Preston North End, the Brewers take on Brentford, and Forest are involved in that aforementioned clash with Derby.

Two Play-Off chasers meet on Friday night when Sheffield Wednesday host Reading, while Fulham, in seventh, take on a Wolverhampton Wanderers side who have notched back-to-back wins.

Table: Click here to see the Sky Bet Championship table

Sky Bet Championship: Matchday 38 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Friday 17th March 2017

Bristol City v Huddersfield Town (7:45pm - live on Sky Sports)
Sheffield Wednesday v Reading (7:45pm)

Saturday 18th March 2017

Blackburn Rovers v Preston North End
Birmingham City v Newcastle United
Burton Albion v Brentford
Cardiff City v Ipswich Town
Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Leeds United v Brighton & Hove Albion (5:30pm - live on Sky Sports)
Norwich City v Barnsley
Nottingham Forest v Derby County (1pm)
Queens Park Rangers v Rotherham United
Wigan Athletic v Aston Villa

Social media: Follow @SkyBetChamp on Twitter for goal updates


Sky Bet League One masthead - 600w

Back to business

Millwall return to Sky Bet League One action after their FA Cup exploits were brought to an end by Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.

The 6-0 loss away at their London foes has been put to the back of their minds already though, and the focus returns to the push for promotion.

A 14-game unbeaten run sees the Lions sixth and in possession of games in hand, and boss Neil Harris has called on The Den faithful to help the club over the line.

"We've got four home games left, starting on Saturday, and one big push from everyone connected with the club is going to be key if we're to achieve our objective this season," he told millwallfc.co.uk.

The weekend starts early

There's Friday night football in Sky Bet League One this weekend, with Port Vale welcoming a Shrewsbury Town outfit just five points above them in the table.

The hosts currently occupy the final relegation place, but do have multiple games in hand to fall back on, including two on the Shrews.

If the Valiants can start the weekend in style and pick up three points, that will pile plenty of pressure on the sides hovering above the bottom four come 3pm on Saturday afternoon.

Around the grounds

The division's top three are all at home this weekend, with table-topping Sheffield United eight games unbeaten and hosting Charlton Athletic.

It's a visit from AFC Wimbledon for Fleetwood, who are looking to repel the chasing pack below them, a pack led by Bolton – the Trotters host a Northampton Town side who have won their last three.

Scunthorpe United halted their nine-match winless streak in midweek and visit Play-Off outsiders Oxford United, while fifth-placed Bradford City host struggling Swindon Town.

Like the Robins, lowly Coventry and Chesterfield are both on the road. Milton Keynes Dons are the Sky Blues' opponents, while the Spireites go to Bristol Rovers, who were nine unbeaten until a midweek loss at Bury.

Table: Click here to see the Sky Bet League One table

Sky Bet League One: Matchday 39 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Friday 17th March 2017

Port Vale v Shrewsbury Town (7:45pm)

Saturday 18th March 2017

Bolton Wanderers v Northampton Town
Bradford City v Swindon Town
Bristol Rovers v Chesterfield
Fleetwood Town v AFC Wimbledon
Millwall v Bury
Milton Keynes Dons v Coventry City
Oxford United v Scunthorpe United
Peterborough United v Oldham Athletic
Rochdale v Gillingham
Sheffield United v Charlton Athletic
Southend United v Walsall

Social media: Follow @SkyBetLeagueOne on Twitter for goal updates


Sky Bet League Two masthead - 600w

Bottom versus top

Leyton Orient fell to the bottom of the EFL in midweek, suffering a crushing 5-0 defeat at the hands of Accrington Stanley, while Newport County overtook them with a win at Morecambe.

It doesn't get any easier for the O's, with the next test coming against the Sky Bet League Two leaders, Doncaster Rovers.

Danny Webb's men are seven points adrift of safety, while Rovers hold a six-point advantage at the other end of the table.

The omens? Well, Orient haven't won in five home matches against their opponents, but the game before that one didn't go too badly, dishing out an 8-0 thrashing in 1997.

Keeping it clean

Blackpool are currently riding a seven-game unbeaten run in Sky Bet League Two, with three wins and four draws bringing them within touching distance of the Play-Off positions.

Their recent run hasn't been the easiest either. The last three games have been against second-placed Plymouth Argyle, Play-Off outsiders Wycombe Wanderers and the in-form Stevenage.

Seven points accrued, four goals scored, and zero conceded. Next up is an easier test on paper, a home clash with a Newport County side seven points from safety.

However, the Exiles have climbed off the bottom with back-to-back wins, and a third would hamper the Seasiders' Play-Off push.

Around the grounds

Two form sides go head-to-head with Stevenage and Portsmouth both only suffering one defeat each in their last nine matches. Boro lost their unbeaten streak in midweek, while Pompey have hit four goals in successive outings.

Second-placed Plymouth Argyle are six points behind Doncaster and host a Morecambe side who have lost their last three, while Luton Town take on Exeter City in a battle between two sides in the Play-Off places.

Keith Curle visits his former employers when taking a Carlisle United side without a win in five to Mansfield Town, who are five points adrift of the top seven.

The four teams directly above the relegation zone – Cheltenham Town, Notts County, Hartlepool United and Crewe Alexandra – are all at home this weekend.

Table: Click here to see the Sky Bet League Two table

Sky Bet League Two: Matchday 38 fixtures (3pm kick-off)

Saturday 18th March 2017

Cheltenham Town v Cambridge United
Crewe Alexandra v Colchester United
Grimsby Town v Crawley Town
Hartlepool United v Wycombe Wanderers
Leyton Orient v Doncaster Rovers
Luton Town v Exeter City
Mansfield Town v Carlisle United
Newport County v Blackpool
Plymouth Argyle v Morecambe
Stevenage v Portsmouth
Yeovil Town v Accrington Stanley

Sunday 19th March 2017

Notts County v Barnet

Social media: Follow @SkyBetLeagueTwo on Twitter for goal updates

Match officials: Click here to see the referees on EFL duty this weekend