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npower League 1 midweek preview

23 October 2012

THE BIG MATCH

The two clubs propping up npower League 1 go head-to-head on Tuesday as rock bottom Bury take on second from bottom Hartlepool United.

Both teams have endured torrid starts to their respective seasons and are already becoming cut off from the rest of the division.

Hartlepool have one win so far - which came at the start of September - but they have come close to gaining points in recent weeks; their last four defeats have been by a single goal.

The Shakers, meanwhile, are yet to taste three points. But, like the Pools, their last few defeats have been by one goal - their most recent being a 2-1 loss at the hands of Yeovil Town.

Manager Kevin Blackwell believes that first win is just around the corner for his side, if they can continue to play as they have been doing.

He told Mancunian Matters: "We've brought four or five players in now and it's made a difference.

"There's no doubt the club was struggling with the numbers we had. The bench was weak and we couldn't change it from there.

"Tuesday is another opportunity for us to get more points and if they give me what they gave me at Yeovil on Saturday, I'll be happy.

"The fans are seeing a set of players who want to play and are giving everything."

Pools boss Neal Cooper is equally optimistic that his side can start to pick up points in threes again soon, explaining to the Northern Echo he is fast becoming a bad loser:

"It will be tough but we need three points on Tuesday to make sure we're still within reach of getting out of this.

"If we get that one then we can get a bit of momentum and spirits will lift. I feel like I'm a local lad now and it hurts - I hate losing.

"The sooner we get out of this the happier I'll be."

Bury boss Blackwell bolstered his attacking options with the loan signing of Queens Park Rangers striker Troy Hewitt, and he could be thrown straight in for his debut.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Sheffield United are now the only unbeaten side in The Football League and that record will be on the line on Tuesday night as Walsall visit Bramall Lane.

The Blades have seemingly reacted well after Play-Off heartache last term and find themselves among the early pacesetters at the top of npower League 1.

They were 1-0 winners away at Preston North End last time out and will want to further cement their place around the top with a victory against the Saddlers, who sit mid-table.

"They're a good footballing side," Danny Wilson told Blades Player, when discussing the Saddlers. "Throughout the season we have said many times the teams we are playing are big, compromising and strong, I'm not saying Walsall are like that but to add to that they do have some very good footballers in the team.

"We've had some terrific reports from them over the last two or three weeks of how they've played, they've not necessarily been getting the results they wanted but, certainly the performances have been strong.

"We expect them to come to our place, put their foot on the ball and play, we've got to make sure they don't."

After a fine start to their season, which seen them reach the top end of the division, Dean Smith's Saddlers now lie 12th.

They stopped a run of three successive defeats with a 2-2 draw against Crewe Alexandra last time out but would have hoped for more after racing into a two-goal lead.

Three points would certainly get their season back on track, and looking towards the Play-Offs again, but Smith knows it will be tough against the third-placed Blades.

The Walsall boss told www.saddlers.co.uk: "There is plenty of belief in the dressing room; Bramall Lane can be an intimidating venue, but it is always a good place to go and play football.

"My lads are confident and will be going there intent on playing the right way and bringing home a result.

"Sheffield United have quality throughout their side and are yet to taste defeat this season. We have proved what we are capable of so far and will be sticking to the principles that have served us well."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Tranmere Rovers will go into a match following a defeat for the first time this season as they take on seventh-placed Doncaster Rovers.

Ronnie Moore's men went down 3-1 to Bournemouth on Saturday and it will be interesting to see how his table-toppers react from their first loss of the campaign.

Bournemouth will be high on confidence following that victory and they are up against another promotion-chasing side in Notts County, who were 2-1 winners against Coventry City at the weekend.

That was the Sky Blues' first loss in five matches and they will be eager to bounce back on the road against Brentford. The Bees were also defeated at the weekend, by Doncaster, and they will want three points to stay in touch with the Play-Off pack.

Swindon Town are one of the sides in that pack, sitting sixth on 22 points, and they face Crewe Alexandra away from home.

Steve Davis' men have slipped to 19th following a run of just one win in nine matches but they will hope to arrest that slide at home to Paolo Di Canio's Robins.

At the opposite end of the form table is Portsmouth. After four wins in five, Pompey now find themselves 11th and within four points of the top six. They now have a chance to test their promotion credentials against second-placed Stevenage.

Elsewhere, Milton Keynes Dons and Preston North End are two other sides just outside the top six and they travel to Crawley town and Scunthorpe United respectively.

The remaining games in npower League 1 see Carlisle United host Oldham Athletic, Leyton Orient take on Colchester United and Shrewsbury Town host Yeovil Town.

Click here for all the midweek action


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