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Match Previews

npower League 1 weekend preview

28 September 2012


The npower League 1 fixtures for September come to an end on Saturday and there's a real cracker in store at Bramall Lane with a side unbeaten at home entertaining a side unbeaten away.

Sheffield United and Notts County are the protagonists with both sides having genuine ambitions this season of winning promotion to the npower Championship.

It's sixth versus second with the Blades yet to lose an npower League 1 game at all this season, let alone in front of their own fans, though they have drawn on five of their eight outings.

But there is a feeling at Bramall Lane that they are well placed so far after a good start to the season.

Blades boss Danny Wilson told "Notts County have had a terrific start and because of their league position it will be probably be our sternest test so far.

"I think this game should put things in perspective, people are talking up Notts County's start and it has been fantastic, but we are only three points behind them.

"We have had a steady start and there is much more to come, the lads are fitting into positions as we go along, so we aren't saying we are delirious but we are fairly content with our progress so far."

While United were beaten in last season's Play-Off Final, their opponents on Saturday only narrowly missed out on the season-ending competition on goal difference having finished seventh.

County's five wins and two draws so far have left them behind only Tranmere Rovers in the table and they are currently on a club record run of away games undefeated, stretching back to last season.

And there's an added connection as Magpies boss Keith Curle goes back to the club he served as a player/coach from 2000 to 2002.

Curle told "They're a big football club and they've got some good players, but I think they've gone a little bit more physical this year, I feel.

"They're a little bit more confrontational and a little bit more direct in their style of play, but we need to combat that.

"If we need to go toe-to-toe, then so be it, we've got a game plan of how we want to play but we won't go on the back foot."


Stevenage and Bury meet on Saturday with the hosts putting their unbeaten npower League 1 record on the line against the visitors, who are yet to taste victory this season and now have a new manager in charge.

Kevin Blackwell was appointed at Bury earlier this week with the task of guiding his new side off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation zone.

Stevenage, meanwhile, are continuing the momentum of last season and sit third in the table going into the weekend, one of only three teams yet to lose in 2012/13.

Only a late equaliser pegged them back at Doncaster Rovers last week and boss Gary Smith is likely to be pleased with his side's start to the season.

Smith, who joined Stevenage in January after managing Colorado Rapids in America, bolstered his squad with the signing of defender Andy Iro on free transfer this week.

The 27-year-old most recently played for Toronto, but will now strengthen Boro's back line, and may make his debut as early as this weekend.

For Bury, it's a case of trying to get that first win of the season as soon as possible and then using it as a foundation to build from.

The Shakers, who had been under the caretaker charge of Peter Shirtliff, went down 4-1 at home to Milton Keynes Dons last time out and haven't won since last April.

Blackwell, once goalkeeping coach and assistant manager at Bury, toldShakers Player: "I've got to make sure that we can arrest the slide as quickly as we can, that's for sure, and short-term it's to try and make sure we get out of the bottom four.

"Make no bones about it, we've got to get out of the bottom four and we've got to do that as quickly as possible, and then build from there."


The two teams immediately above Bury in the npower League 1 table are both still seeking their first wins of the campaign - and both have recently undergone managerial changes.

Coventry City are one place above the Shakers because of their better goal difference and have had Mark Robins in charge for two games, but the Sky Blues lost both of those and hope to break their duck on Saturday with a visit to Oldham Athletic - almost 19 years after the two teams last met in what was then a Premier League fixture.

Colchester United are third from bottom and after parting company with John Ward earlier this week, they moved quickly to appoint in his place Joe Dunne, who had been serving as Ward's assistant.

Dunne, a legend as a player at Colchester, now has to reproduce his form in the managerial hot-seat to pull the U's out of trouble - starting on Saturday at home to Hartlepool United.

While there are three League 1 teams still winless, three remain undefeated and with Stevenage and Sheffield United already covered, attentions turn to Tranmere Rovers.

Ronnie Moore's players head the table so far with six wins and two draws from their opening eight fixtures.

Tranmere have won their last three League 1 games, including last Saturday's 5-2 victory at Crawley, and now return to Prenton Park action with the visit of Brentford.

Also in the top six at the moment are Swindon Town, who have adapted well to life in League 1 having been promoted as champions of npower League 2 last season.

Paolo Di Canio's men are fifth and have also reached the last 16 of the Capital One Cup but it's back to League action on Saturday as they travel to Shrewsbury Town, who also came up from League 2 with them.

At the other end of the table, the bottom four is completed by Portsmouth, who have one win to their name and a total of five points from their eight games. Their ownership situation is yet to be resolved but, on the field, all eyes are on Saturday's home game with Scunthorpe United.

The weekend's remaining games see Preston North End at home to Yeovil Town, Bournemouth facing Walsall, Carlisle United hosting Crawley Town, Leyton Orient against Doncaster Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons taking on Crewe Alexandra.

Click here for all the weekend's action

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