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Match Previews

npower League 2 weekend preview

26 October 2012

THE BIG MATCH

Burton Albion and Bradford City will both be dreaming of a top-seven in npower League 2 finish this term, after good starts to their respective seasons, and they clash at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday.

Burton have slipped to 10th following a winless run of four matches but three points could take them back into the Play-Off places, providing other results go their way.

The Brewers will be confident of doing so, too, having lost just once on home soil so far this term.

Boss Gary Rowett knows his side will be in for a tough afternoon, though, telling Brewers Player: "They [Bradford] have got a lot of strength in their side, they've recruited some strong characters and some physically strong players.

"They're a very different threat; if you look at Port Vale the threat comes from wide, I think a lot of the threat will come from down the middle from [James] Hanson's flicks.

"Their away form is not as good as their home form, but when you've got Hanson in the side, anybody gambling off of his flicks are going to be a danger. They are a very good side, we'll have a lot of respect for them, but it's about what we do."

Burton certainly won't be able to catch their fifth-placed opponents in the table come Saturday evening, as they are four points better off.

The Bantams are just a point behind Fleetwood Town, who occupy the last automatic promotion place, so will be aware of the significance of a victory. They are on a good run, too, having recorded back-to-back wins against Cheltenham Town and, most recently, Northampton Town.

This will be the second time the two sides have gone head-to-head in the space of just over a month, having met in the Capital One Cup - a tie Bradford won 3-2 after being two goals down. And assistant manager Steve Parkin drawn upon that game looking ahead to this weekend's fixture.

"It will be a tough game. We all saw their attacking prowess in the Cup game and I think they have key players who can score goals," Parkin commented on Bantams Player.

"The important thing for us is we make sure we are strong defensively again, our shape is good. Because we are capable or scoring goals going the other way as well."

Bradford manager Phil Parkinson will be without star striker Nahki Wells, who will be serving a one-match ban which he picked up after receiving a booking against Northampton. Influential centre-midfielder Gary Jones is fit again, though, after missing six matches through injury.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Wycombe Wanderers and Oxford United were both mooted for promotion during pre-season but they have failed to impress so far this term, ahead of their clash this weekend at Adams Park.

The Chairboys were relegated from npower League 1 last term and were expected to make a challenge for an immediate return but, following a poor start, dismissed Gary Waddock.

Gareth Ainsworth was given the reins on a caretaker basis and he improved the team's on-field fortunes, with two wins, but they followed that up with a loss and then a midweek goalless draw against rock-bottom Barnet.

Wycombe midfielder Stuart Lewis is relishing the prospect of coming up against near-neighbours Oxford, telling Chairboys Player: "It is a massive game, it's a local derby. I played in the fixture away at Oxford when we got promotion a couple of years ago and that was a brilliant atmosphere.

"I'm looking forward to playing at Adams Park in front of a good crowd, it will be a real derby day and I'm looking forward to it.

"Everybody gets a buzz and it's the talk of the town. Hopefully we can back that up with a good performance and three points."

Like Wycombe, Oxford are also under-performing in npower League 2 following disappointment last time around.

The U's looked set for a Play-Off place last season but fell at the final hurdle, finishing ninth. They come into the game against Wycombe lying 18th, with a poor away record so far; losing six and winning just once on the road.

Chris Wilder is confident ahead of the clash with Wycombe, though, telling Yellow Player: "The Wycombe game is a different challenge, no team is the same, but if we stick to our principles as we have done in the last two games then I am sure that we can go there and win.

"Nothing is handed out in October but it's an important time against teams that are in and around us. If you look at the league table and see what a win would have done for us on Tuesday night; it would have put us into 10th place. So we have to claw three points back from somewhere, and hopefully we can do that on Saturday.

"We will take a lot of supporters down there and it will be a really good atmosphere."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Gillingham remain top but their lead over second-placed Port Vale has been reduced to just two points after a Tuesday night defeat at the hands of Torquay United.

The Gills are on the road against this weekend, to AFC Wimbledon, and they will want to get back to winning ways immediately. The Wombles certainly won't be pushovers, though, particularly after a comfortable win against Bristol Rovers in their last outing.

Port Vale are the division's in-form side and they will hope to keep the pressure on at the summit as they travel to Northampton Town, who lost to Bradford City last time out.

Cobblers boss Aidy Boothroyd will again be without key first-team players David Artell, John Johnson, Ben Harding, Luke Guttridge and Chris Hackett, who are all injured.

Fleetwood Town occupy third spot and they face sixth-placed Rochdale at Spotland. Cod Army boss Micky Mellon added to his squad this week by signing Swansea City full-back Curtis Obeng on loan until 23rd December.

Cheltenham Town and Rotherham United are the two other teams currently in the Play-Off places and they are both at home this weekend. The Robins host Exeter City, while the Millers, who have signed Blackburn Rovers full-back Josh Morris on loan, entertain Plymouth Argyle.

Steve Evans' men are on 21 points in the table and they could be replaced in the top seven at the weekend by any one of seven teams, proving just how tight npower League 2 is.

Torquay United and Morecambe are two of those sides and they clash at Plainmoor, where the Gulls are yet to lose this term. York City are another and they have just one loss in seven ahead of their trip to Southend United.

Paul Cook takes charge of Chesterfield for the first time, following his move from League 2 rivals Accrington Stanley, with a match against Barnet, who have improved of late by picking up four points from their last two fixtures, but remain bottom of the table. Accrington begin life without Cook at home to Bristol Rovers.

Aldershot, meanwhile, occupy the other place in the relegation zone but they will be buoyed by their victory over Southend last time out. Their next task comes in the form of John Still's Dagenham and Redbridge, who have been defeated just once in their last seven outings.

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