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Match Previews

Sky Bet League 1 Boxing Day preview

24 December 2013

Bradford City v Rotherham United

Two of last season's promoted teams from League 2 face each other at Valley Parade in Sky Bet League 1 on Boxing Day, with Bradford City taking on Rotherham United.

The visiting Millers have dominated the Bantams in recent seasons, winning their past five meetings with an aggregate score of 15-2, having not conceded in 360 minutes of play.

Heading into this match, their 75th encounter, both teams are fighting for a Play-Off spot. Phil Parkinson's hosts are ninth on 30 points, after one win and six draws in 11, whilst Steve Evans' sixth-placed men are on 35 points having registered 15 from 21 available.

Brentford v Swindon Town

There's a clash from the top reaches of the Sky Bet League 1 table with high-flying Brentford, in third, hosting seventh-placed Swindon Town at 12:30pm.

Mark Warburton has continued where Uwe Rosler finished for the Bees. Two wins under his stewardship means Brentford are unbeaten in 10, with 28 points from those matches. The Griffin Park outfit have closed the gap on the top two of Wolves and Leyton Orient to just a single point.

Swindon are two points outside the Play-Offs following Saturday's 2-1 win over Coventry. These teams met in the League 1 Play-Off Semi-Final last year, with the Brentford prevailing on penalties.

Bristol City v Walsall

Bottom-club Bristol City remain the only team in the entire Football League without at least two home wins this season, and they host Walsall on Thursday.

The Robins have one victory, five draws and five defeats on their own turf. They've also only triumphed once on the road, meaning they have the fewest wins out of the 72 clubs with just two. 10 stalemates means they are the division's draw experts, and they are four points from safety.

The Saddlers are eighth, hunting down the Play-Offs courtesy of two successive victories - 1-0 at Shrewsbury and 2-0 at home to Carlisle. City won 3-0 in both fixtures when these clubs last met, in 2005/06.

Carlisle United v Preston North End

Carlisle United and Preston North End kick-off at Brunton Park at 1pm, with their previous five head-to-heads all having ended in draws.

More recently, North End's nine-game unbeaten run was put to the sword by Brentford at Deepdale on Saturday, when the Bees ran out 3-0 winners. That dropped Simon Grayson's men down to fifth, as Peterborough United leapfrogged them.

Graham Kavanagh's Carlisle are 16th. They have won their last two at home, 2-1 against Crewe and 4-1 over Tranmere, but have been defeated in the past couple of away fixtures.

Colchester United v Stevenage

Stevenage possess the worst home record in Sky Bet League 1, so will be glad to board the team bus for their trip to Colchester United.

Graham Westley's men have the 13th best record on the road, but haven't won in their previous four league matches. Two points from 12 has seen them drop into 21st - the final relegation place - on 19 points.

Colchester had won just once in 15 fixtures, but have recovered to produce two victories in their past four. Those six points have lifted them up to 15th, five points clear of danger.

Coventry City v Peterborough United

The first fixture in Sky Bet League 1 on Boxing Day sees Coventry City take on Peterborough United at midday.

The Sky Blues have won seven of their 13 previous encounters, with Posh victorious on only three occasions. However, the visitors are the higher-placed side, in fourth, heading into this clash.

Darren Ferguson's men have gone unbeaten in three - recovering from a five-game losing streak - to move within five points of Leyton Orient and Wolves. Steven Pressley's men sit 13th after one win in six, and they lost 2-1 against Swindon Town on Saturday.

Crawley Town v Milton Keynes Dons

After meeting last season, this will only be the third fixture between Crawley Town and Milton Keynes Dons, as they go head-to-head in West Sussex.

The Red Devils won 2-0 in this clash in 2012/13, with a 0-0 draw at stadiummk, and the clubs sit side-by-side in the League 1 table going into Thursday's game.

Karl Robinson's Dons are the higher of the teams, in 11th, on 28 points, after successive wins - 2-0 at Wolves and 3-0 over Port Vale. John Gregory picked up his first three points as Crawley manager, on Saturday, with an impressive 3-2 win at leaders Leyton Orient - the club's first victory in 10 matches.

John Gregory picked up his first victory as Crawley boss last time out

Gillingham v Leyton Orient

Table-toppers Leyton Orient will be trying to heal their wounds from that home defeat to Crawley last weekend, and they travel to Gillingham for a 1:30pm kick-off.

The O's held onto top spot by virtue of goal difference, after Wolves could only draw last weekend, with both clubs on 44 points. Russell Slade's men now haven't won in four, but have the best away record in the division with 24 points from 33.

Peter Taylor's Gills were 2-1 winners at Tranmere last Friday, a result that lifted them to 14th.

Port Vale v Notts County

Port Vale and Notts County will meet for the 97th time, when they kick-off at Vale Park on Thursday.

Shaun Derry's County have the second-worst record on the road in League 1, having mustered five points from 33. That solitary away triumph occurred in their last trip, a 4-0 hammering of Colchester United. Seven points from 9 has lifted them into 22nd, two points from safety.

Vale are within five points of the Play-Offs but suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Milton Keynes Dons last time out.

Sheffield United v Oldham Athletic

Sheffield United and Oldham Athletic clash at Bramall Lane, with one place and a single point dissecting the sides after contrasting recent fortunes.

Nigel Clough's Blades are unbeaten in five following a goalless draw against Stevenage on Saturday, and are now 19th on 21 points. Oldham have lost their previous two without scoring, and have slipped to 18th.

United are the joint-worst scorers in League 1, alongside Crewe with 18 goals in 21 games.

Shrewsbury Town v Tranmere Rovers

Shrewsbury Town and Tranmere Rovers, two teams in the bottom half of the table, meet at Greenhous Meadow.

Rovers had enjoyed eight games without tasting defeat against the Shrews, but that was ended in February 2013 when Graham Turner's men won 2-0 at Prenton Park.

The visitors have lost two successive games and are dangling dangerously over the drop zone, one point clear of the bottom four.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Crewe Alexandra

Wolverhampton Wanderers will harbour hopes of returning to the summit of the table, as they host a Crewe Alexandra currently in the relegation zone.

The Railwaymen are the worst scorers, alongside Sheffield United, with 18 strikes, and also have the leakiest defence with 43 conceded from 21 fixtures. They have collected five points from nine available, ensuring they are now just two from safety.

Wolves trail Leyton Orient by goal difference only, and lead Brentford by one point, so could end the day anywhere in the top three. A 3-3 draw at Rotherham last Saturday ended a two-game losing streak. Kenny Jackett's men have the second-best home record, whilst Crewe are the worst travellers.

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