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Match Previews

Sky Bet League 2 weekend preview

13 February 2015

We look ahead to the weekend action in Sky Bet League 2.


Southend United v Accrington Stanley

Southend United go into this weekend on the back of a 10-game unbeaten run, and they host Accrington Stanley at Roots Hall.

The Blues' run began with a 0-0 draw against Burton Albion in mid-December and they failed to kick on initially, playing out three more stalemates within the next month, but the last five games have seen them pick up 13 points and they are now just two behind third-placed Wycombe Wanderers.

A lack of goals had been a concern for Phil Brown's men, having only scored 33 times this term, but things have picked up since the loan arrival of Joe Pigott.

The Charlton loanee scored three times in 11 outings when with Newport County in the first half of the season, but he has already beaten that tally in just six matches for his new side. His brace gave Southend a 2-0 Tuesday night win over Cheltenham, and it took him to four goals for the Blues.

Accrington recorded a midweek success over Oxford United to halt a rotten run of recent results. Stanley had lost the five games prior to that, which included a 3-0 thumping at Tranmere Rovers and a 5-1 humiliation at home to Northampton Town.

Keep it clean: Southend haven’t conceded a goal at Roots Hall since losing to Chester in an FA Cup shock on 8th November - a run that stretches back seven games. Accrington have only managed to keep a clean sheet once on the road this season, when they came away from Mansfield with a 1-0 victory.

Southend came out on top on the opening day of the season when these two met at the Crown Ground, with Lee Barnard’s late penalty earning the Blues all three points.


Mansfield Town v Northampton Town

Northampton Town’s five-game winning run came to an end on Tuesday, but they can get back on track with this weekend’s visit to Mansfield Town.

The Cobblers ended a five-game losing streak with a draw at home to Southend at the beginning of 2015, before winning their next five matches to fire them into the top half of the table.

Marc Richards already has 16 goals this term, and he has been backed up in recent weeks by a supporting cast of Lawson D’Ath, Ricky Holmes and John-Joe O’Toole. The latter’s recent form has seen this match declared by the fans as John-Joe O’Toole Day, with a vast number of the travelling faithful set to don long-haired wigs in honour of the Cobblers’ number 10.

However, the division’s top-scorers couldn’t find the net against lowly Hartlepool on Tuesday night as their winning run came to an end with a 1-0 defeat at Victoria Road.

Chris Wilder, who earned the January Manager of the Month award following his side’s success, was far from happy after the Cobblers gifted Marvin Morgan his midweek winner for Pools. Wilder's men now turn their attention to Mansfield, who they defeated 1-0 on the opening day of the season.

The Stags have just one win in their last eight games and they found themselves in the bottom two a week ago, before climbing straight back out with three points against Stevenage.

While free-scoring Northampton have struck 47 goals this season, Adam Murray’s side have scored just 24, with only bottom side Hartlepool finding the net fewer times.

Stag party: Mansfield have taken three wins from their last three fixtures at home to the Cobblers, including last season’s comfortable 3-0 victory. Even Northampton’s last win here wasn’t a happy one – a 3-1 success came in the second leg of the 2004/05 Play-Off semi-final, which was followed by a penalty shoot-out defeat as the Stags advanced to the Millennium Stadium.


Cheltenham Town v Bury

Cheltenham Town go into this weekend’s encounter with Bury managerless, after parting company with Paul Buckle on Friday morning.

Buckle had seen his side earn just one win in his 13 matches in charge of the Robins, and they failed to pick up a victory at Whaddon Road under his stewardship.

Their last outing under Buckle was the 2-0 defeat at Southend on Tuesday night, and that proved to be one defeat too many for Cheltenham Chairman Paul Baker, who wielded the axe after just 79 days.

Cheltenham's slide means they find themselves just a point clear of the relegation zone, and they could drop into the bottom two this weekend if results do not go their way.

Academy coach Russell Milton will be in charge for the visit of Play-Off chasing Bury, alongside former defender Steve Elliot, with the Robins chasing their first home victory since mid-October when they beat Northampton Town 3-2.
The Shakers are eighth following a goalless draw with Stevenage in midweek, but they are level on points with Plymouth in what is proving to be a tight battle for the coveted top seven.


Burton Albion and Shrewsbury Town continue to switch places at the summit of Sky Bet League 2, and it’s the latter who sit top again after a midweek win at Carlisle. The Shrews return to the Greenhous Meadow on Saturday, where they are yet to lose in 15 league games, to face AFC Wimbledon.

The Brewers are also at home this weekend, entertaining an Oxford side with just one win from their last seven fixtures.

Wycombe play host to managerless Newport County, who ended a run of four straight defeats on Tuesday night when they picked up a point at home to Tranmere. The Chairboys’ 12-game unbeaten stretch came to an end in midweek as they lost 2-0 to Plymouth Argyle.

That win was Plymouth’s second on the bounce following a fruitless spell of seven games and it moved them back into the Play-Off places. John Sheridan’s side welcome Cambridge, who are without a victory in four, to Home Park.

Exeter are just three points behind their Devon rivals and have a south coast battle with Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Saturday.

Andy Awford’s Pompey had gone nine games without a win until last weekend’s success over Hartlepool, and they followed that up by sharing the spoils at Dagenham, but Exeter are a side that have flourished on their travels this term.

Journeymen: The Grecians’ efforts on the road are only bettered by the top three, with Paul Tisdale’s side picking up over half of their points away from St James’ Park.

York could get themselves out of the relegation zone should they manage to record a rare home triumph this weekend. The Minstermen have just one win at Bootham Crescent this term going into Saturday’s clash with Tranmere, and they will overtake Rovers with three points.

Carlisle sit 19th, a place above Tranmere, and go to Luton this weekend. The Cumbrians have conceded a league-high 52 goals following their midweek loss to Shrewsbury, and only the top two can boast a stronger home record than the Hatters.

On the Mark: Luton’s top scorer Mark Cullen came off the bench to score a brace and salvage his side a point against York on Tuesday. They were Cullen’s first league goals since scoring a hat-trick against Dagenham in October.

Hartlepool’s bid for survival was boosted with a crucial win against Northampton on Tuesday. Ronnie Moore’s side have now picked up seven points from a possible 12 and they host Stevenage, who haven't won in four.

Morecambe and Dagenham will complete the weekend’s action on Sunday afternoon, when the two sides go head-to-head at the Globe Arena. The Daggers have failed to get the better of Morecambe in five outings, with their last win against them coming in February 2012.


Saturday 14th February 2015

Burton Albion v Oxford United
Cheltenham Town v Bury
Hartlepool United v Stevenage
Luton Town v Carlisle United
Mansfield Town v Northampton Town
Plymouth Argyle v Cambridge United
Portsmouth v Exeter City
Shrewsbury Town v AFC Wimbledon
Southend United v Accrington Stanley
Wycombe Wanderers v Newport County
York City v Tranmere Rovers

Sunday 15th February 2015

Morecambe v Dagenham & Redbridge

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