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Match Previews

npower League 1 weekend preview

26 October 2012

THE BIG MATCH

Stevenage and Swindon Town meet on Saturday in a battle between the sides second and seventh in npower League 1.

It's been a good start to the season for both clubs but particularly for hosts Stevenage, who have still only lost one game so far.

Last season's beaten Play-Off semi-finalists are expecting another big crowd at the Lamex Stadium as they look to build on a recent run of four wins from their last five games.

Manager Gary Smith told Boro Player: "It's been a really tough week and the final game of this three-game week is probably as challenging as any of them.

"Paolo Di Canio's put together a very strong side there. I suspect that the budget he has to deal with is one where he's trying to force the issue and gain back-to-back promotions. So what you find is that not only does he have good players, he has strength in depth, he's got a lot of players to choose from, and at this moment in time I couldn't guess what side he's going to put out.

"He's rotated those players well, he's kept everybody under pressure for their position, so I fully expect a very competitive game and a side that realise a result at the Lamex is not only going to edge them closer to us but they're going to put themselves in a very encouraging position."

Swindon are hoping to end a run of three games without a win, a mini run that has seen them drop out of the Play-Off places having been right in there at the start of October.

But Paolo Di Canio's men are only two points adrift of the top six and will certainly not be worried about their position as they look to go up for the second successive season having been League 2 champions in 2011/12.

Di Canio told STFC Player: "They [Stevenage] had one or two not very good games a few games ago but now they have won their last two and are in a very good position, close to the top, they know what to do and know what they want.

"They work so hard off the ball and when they have got the ball they can play at pace, they have two or three good individuals. They play effective football which is really important in this league and at their stadium they are tough.

"But I am not worried because we play our football, and we try to get the chance to get points from this game."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Sticking at the top of npower League 1, it's fifth against sixth at Meadow Lane with Notts County playing host to Doncaster Rovers.

The Magpies have been among the Play-Off places for almost all of the season and are the division's second highest goalscorers so far, although it was at the other end they suffered in midweek as they drew 3-3 at home to Bournemouth having led 2-0 and 3-2.

But Keith Curle's men are a resilient bunch having lost just two League 1 fixtures since the end of August and they will be looking to keep their form going on Saturday.

Coach Colin West told Magpie Player: "It will be a tough game. Dean [Saunders] has got them playing some attractive football, although they do change their way a little bit away from home, as we do I suppose.

"We've got to approach it in the right manner but I don't think it's anything to be afraid of. We're in front of them in the league, and I think we certainly deserve where we are - maybe we could have been a little bit further up but it's still early days.

"I think if we approach it in the right manner I think we'll be okay."

Rovers start the day in sixth, a point behind County but also with a game in hand having won four of their last six League 1 matches - including winning at leaders Tranmere Rovers in midweek.

They appear to be adjusting well to life back in the second tier after a traumatic relegation from the Championship last season but know they face a tough test at Meadow Lane.

Manager Dean Saunders told www.doncasterroversfc.co.uk: "Notts County are a good team, they've got some good forward players and try to attack against teams so it will probably be the toughest game out of the last three. I think that they will be up there come the end of the season as will Brentford and Tranmere.

"We've got six points in the bag from these three games [having beaten Brentford and Tranmere in their last two outings]. I said to the players six points isn't a bad total but when you get the first three points in the bag you can aim at getting nine - if we get nine points we are going to be in the top three or four.

"All the teams around us keep winning as well, but we are only six points behind the leaders, with a game in hand, which is a good position to be in."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Tranmere Rovers continue to lead the way in npower League 1 but Ronnie Moore's men are facing something of a test of character at the moment as they look to bounce back from two successive defeats.

They were unbeaten until going down 3-1 at Bournemouth last Saturday and a 2-1 reverse at home to Doncaster Rovers in midweek, coupled with results elsewhere, saw their advantage at the top slashed to one point.

Rovers are keen to put that right and on Saturday they are in home action again with Preston North End visiting Prenton Park.

Preston are eighth, three points outside the Play-Off places in their first full season under Graham Westley, who has issued a rallying call to his players and fans ahead of the journey to Tranmere.

Sheffield United are still unbeaten after 14 games and start the weekend in third, a point outside the top two, but that position could change as they have to wait until Monday to play.

They are at home to Portsmouth in a televised encounter that could see the visitors, currently 14th, down as far as 19th depending on Saturday's other results.

Five teams - Walsall, Crewe Alexandra, Oldham Athletic, Leyton Orient and Bournemouth - could all overtake Pompey on Saturday.

Walsall head to Bury, who are second from bottom with eight points to their name; Crewe are at home to 11th-placed Yeovil Town; Oldham face a tough-looking trip to fourth-placed Crawley Town; Leyton Orient take on Coventry City, while Bournemouth are at Carlisle United.

That game between Orient and Coventry sees the teams currently 18th and 21st go head-to-head. Orient have a five-point advantage over the Sky Blues, who occupy the final relegation spot and are two points adrift of Shrewsbury Town who are immediately above them.

Scunthorpe United and Hartlepool United are the final two teams - along with Coventry and Bury - in the bottom four.

Scunthorpe are at home to 10th-placed Milton Keynes Dons while Hartlepool, under the temporary leadership of Micky Barron after Neale Cooper's departure in midweek, head to ninth-placed Brentford.

Saturday's remaining game sees Shrewsbury, who are just outside the relegation zone and on the back of one win in seven, at home to 12th-placed Colchester United, who have picked up three successive victories.

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