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Match Previews

npower League 1 midweek preview

21 August 2012

THE BIG MATCH

Two sides looking to mount a real challenge for promotion to the npower Championship go head-to-head tonight as Sheffield United visit Coventry City.

The Blades - last season's defeated Play-Off finalists - got their campaign off to a winning start on Saturday by beating Shrewsbury Town 1-0 and will hope to notch up another win on their trip to the Ricoh Arena.

United's Michael Doyle, a former Sky Blues skipper, says the team want to avoid any promotion disappointment this term.

"Last season hurt us in the end and we are desperate to avoid that heartache this time around," the midfielder told www.sufc.co.uk.

"We are still taking time to gel, but hopefully we aren't too far away and I am sure we can emulate some of the better performances of last season."

The 31-year-old still has a number of ties with the club he spent eight years playing for, but says he is concentrating on the task at hand with the Blades.

And he knows there will be no room for sentimental feelings when kick-off time comes around.

"My wife's family are all big Coventry fans, I still live nearby and I still have plenty of connections with the players and staff so it should be interesting," he added.

"I am fully focused on Sheffield United on our objectives for the season; I can't do anything to influence Coventry's fortunes.

"I expect both teams to be there or thereabouts at the end of the season so it will be a big game."

The Sky Blues, meanwhile, were held to a 1-1 draw away at Yeovil Town on the opening day so will be hungry to record their first victory of the new season in front of a home crowd.

It will be the first time the Ricoh Arena has hosted League 1 football and manager Andy Thorn wants his side to be hard to beat at home this term.

"A lot of boys have never played at the Ricoh before and we're hoping it can become a bit of a fortress for us this season," Thorn commented on www.ccfc.co.uk.

"It will difficult as they [Sheffield United] have many strengths but I think if we can play to what we can, we will celebrating our first win of the season.

"Danny [Wilson] has got them well organised at Sheffield and they will definitely be in the fight for promotion throughout the season."

KEEP AN EYE ON

This time 12 months ago, Swindon Town and Crawley Town were both starting out in npower League 2 - now they meet in npower League 1.

Swindon ended up as champions last time around, amassing 93 points, while Crawley secured League 1 football for the first time in their history by finishing third, on 84 points.

With the momentum of promotion behind them - two promotions in Crawley's case - few would bet against both sides to make the jump up to the npower Championship at the first time of asking.

Crawley proved their credentials in the division by getting off to the perfect start on Saturday, beating Scunthorpe United 3-0, while Swindon were held to a goalless draw against Hartlepool United.

Robins boss Paolo Di Canio was pleased with the point, though, particularly as it came just days after his side's comprehensive 3-0 win against Brighton and Hove Albion in the First Round of the Capital One Cup.

"I was very happy with the last half an hour and with the way we played," Di Canio told STFC Player.

"We confirmed our solidity as we only conceded one chance, from a free-kick, but we created four or five clear chances and in the end we deserved to win, but that didn't happen.

"Two games; three goals scored, zero goals conceded - you can't ask for more than that."

Swindon were 3-0 winners in the two games against Crawley in League 2 last term but a lot has changed at the Broadfield Stadium over the summer.

They have a new boss in the shape of Richie Barker, and a number of new players, including Jonathan Forte, who got the third goal in their opening-day victory against Scunthorpe.

Barker, who took over the West Sussex club after leaving Bury, is keen to build on that win, but he is aware of the challenge his side face.

He told Reds Player: "It's going to be difficult, they had a fair result at the weekend and had an excellent result against Brighton last week.

"I'm slightly worried because in the last couple of games teams have probably created more chances than I would have liked.

"They have predominately come from mistakes, though, so we have a fair idea of where they are coming from and if we can irradiate those mistakes, then we should limit people's chances against us, which would make life easier."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

npower League 1 football returns to the Keepmoat Stadium on Tuesday as Doncaster Rovers take on Bury.

Rovers dropped back down to League 1 last term, after four seasons in the Championship, and got their return off to a flying start on Saturday by picking up a 3-0 away win at Walsall.

The Shakers, meanwhile, travel to South Yorkshire off the back of a 0-0 draw against Brentford.

Like Doncaster, Tranmere Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons also tasted opening-day success, and they both have away matches this time around.

Ronnie Moore's Tranmere have a long trip up to Carlisle United, while Karl Robinson's Dons are going in the opposite direction - to the south coast to face AFC Bournemouth.

Notts County picked up a hard-fought 2-1 victory away to Crewe Alexandra on Saturday and they will hope to follow that up with a positive result when Hartlepool United visit Meadow Lane.

Crewe will want bounce back from that defeat, and display more of the quality that saw them beat Hartlepool United 5-0 in the First Round of the Capital One Cup, as they visit Scunthorpe United.

Yeovil Town certainly showed they are going to be no pushovers in the division this season, with a point against Coventry on Saturday, and a trip to Brentford is now on the agenda for Gary Johnson's men.

Shrewsbury Town welcome Preston North End to the Greenhous Meadow following their narrow defeat to Sheffield United. The Shrews created a number of chances against the Blades, registering 19 shots, so will be confident of their chances against Graham Westley's Preston.

Portsmouth manager Michael Appleton handed out 11 debuts at the weekend and his side will continue to build their understanding of each other when they visit Colchester United.

Pompey were denied three points late on against Bournemouth on Saturday but they will be eager to kick-start their campaign and pick up their first League 1 victory against John Ward's U's.

Elsewhere, Leyton Orient, who were beaten 3-1 on Saturday, are on the road to face Gary Smith's Stevenage.

The final fixture of the night sees Walsall travel to Boundary Park to take on Paul Dickov's Oldham Athletic.

Click here for all the midweek action


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