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npower League 2 midweek preview

16 April 2013


The relegation dog fight at the bottom of npower League 2 is reaching its climax and two sides in the thick of things meet at Plainmoor on Tuesday with Torquay United hosting Barnet in a rearranged match that was postponed on Saturday.

Heavy rain in Devon prior Saturday's scheduled 3pm kick-off meant the game had to be postponed, but the pitch is now playable and two relegation-threatened teams are ready to lock horns.

Torquay are the lower of the two sides and currently occupy a place in the bottom two, one point above bottom club Aldershot Town. Barnet are two points above the Gulls, the other side of the relegation line - highlighting just how pivotal this fixture is.

Torquay's longest-serving player, Lee Mansell, described the game to the Western Morning News as "the most important match in my seven years at the club," and few would disagree with him.

He went on to add: "I've had two relegations in my career - at Oxford and here, and they are horrible things.

"If we beat Barnet, we go ahead of them, and psychologically it puts them on the back foot and us on the front foot.

"These are our jobs we're playing for, and it's the same for Barnet as for us. This is huge."

Barnet were beaten 2-0 by Chesterfield in their last outing but prior to that they had avoided defeat in four matches. And one of those was their most recent away game, at AFC Wimbledon, where they took all three points courtesy of a 1-0 win.

Midfielder Mark Byrne reflected on the match against the Wombles in his pre-match interview, and insisted the pressure is on Torquay.

He told "The lads have stayed focused but I don't think there is any pressure on us. Torquay are below us in the league and they need to come at us.

"We know that during the opening 20 minutes it will be tough like it was against AFC Wimbledon. We just need to make sure we weather the storm and then I think we can kick on and win the game.

"I think the fact they need to come at us will help us and suit the way we play. We are good on the counter and they're not that quick at the back so we will have chances."


Rotherham United could move up to third and into the League 2 automatic promotion places on Tuesday night when they travel to Bradford City.

The Millers trail third-placed Burton Albion by three points but have a superior goal difference, meaning they could overtake them and move into the driving seat for automatic promotion to League 1 with a victory at Valley Parade.

They certainly have a challenge on their hands though, with the seventh-placed Bantams winning four of their last six, and drawing the other two, including Saturday's match away at Chesterfield.

Bradford manager Phil Parkinson is urging his players to take advantage of the situation they find themselves in - in the Play-Offs, fighting for promotion, with just a few games remaining.

He told "It is a Yorkshire derby featuring two good sides in the top seven - the players certainly won't need reminding about what the game will be like and what will be at stake.

"We have to look forward to it. We have got ourselves in a strong position, but, as I said to the lads today, it is now time to really push on.

"We are asking the players now for one last really big effort, in terms of on the pitch and away from the training ground. Everything they do has to be spot on for us to push on again.

"This sort of situation is what we have been working so hard for and what our supporters have been waiting a good few years for."

Rotherham manager Steve Evans has watched his side beat Exeter City and Fleetwood Town in their last two matches, and that has lifted them to within touching distance of the top three.

And, like his opposite number, Evans is expecting an exciting Yorkshire derby. He told Millers Player: "It's going to be tough. We've got to go there take the surroundings away from it and concentrate on playing the game on the pitch and not off it.

"I don't think we will have to do much of a team talk in terms of pumping the lads up and getting the blood flowing.

"We'll take a big support with us, they'll be right behind us and we need to produce a performance on the pitch, and our players know the importance of every game.

"I said two games ago that Exeter City was the biggest game of the season, Fleetwood became the biggest game of the season, and now Bradford is the biggest game of the season."


Aldershot Town are the team propping up the division coming into Tuesday night's fixtures, and they will be desperate for a win against Southend United, who they face at the EBB Stadium.

The Shots are three points adrift of safety and, with Torquay and Barnet, the two teams directly above them, clashing at Plainmoor, Tuesday is an important night in the race for survival.

Andy Scott's men have just one win in nine, but will take heart from the fact Southend haven't won since early March, seven games ago.

Plymouth Argyle are another team still involved in the scrap at the foot of the table and they visit ninth-placed Chesterfield.

The Pilgrims are three points above the bottom two but have three teams between themselves and the danger zone. They have lost two of their last three, including a defeat on Saturday against high-flying Burton Albion, but will want to respond against the Spireites.

At the other end of the standings, Northampton Town have the chance to secure their Play-Off place when they travel to Wycombe Wanderers.

The Cobblers have lost their last three in succession, without scoring a goal, and that has seen them drop from third to sixth. Their place in the top seven isn't secure, but a win against the Chairboys would confirm their inclusion in the Play-Offs, at the very least. Gareth Ainsworth's men are mid-table and have registered wins in three of their last four games.

Click here for all the midweek action

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