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Match Previews

Sky Bet League 2 weekend preview

27 February 2015

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

MIDWEEK MELTDOWN

Cheltenham Town v Tranmere Rovers

Tranmere Rovers collapsed to defeat in midweek but can bounce back when they travel to fellow strugglers Cheltenham Town this weekend.

Tranmere made the journey to Portsmouth on Tuesday night in good spirits following a 2-1 win over high-flying Shrewsbury in their previous outing, and they found themselves 2-0 up at Fratton Park early in the second half.

However, Craig Westcarr pulled one back with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining and Pompey went on to score two more to turn the match on its head and leave Micky Adams 'shell-shocked'.



A win would have pulled Rovers six points clear from the relegation zone, but the defeat left them just three clear of their weekend opponents, Cheltenham, who currently occupy 23rd.

The loss on the south coast was a case of déjà vu for Tranmere, who suffered a similar fate against Cheltenham in August’s reverse fixture, when Rovers held a 2-0 lead at Prenton Park only for the Robins to fight back and take the points, which saw them sit third at the time.

Cheltenham have been in decline since then, and caretaker boss Russell Milton picked up a first point at the helm last time out, drawing 1-1 at Accrington Stanley. That halted a run of four straight defeats, but the Gloucestershire club are still without a win in eight and remain a point from safety.

The omens may favour Cheltenham here, with Tranmere only having picked up one point from four visits to Whaddon Road – a 1-1 draw in 2007. However, the Robins haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league since a goalless stalemate with Morecambe on the first Saturday in September.

HITTING FORM

Plymouth Argyle v Bury


Plymouth Argyle and Bury are both four matches unbeaten and the Sky Bet League 2 Play-Off chasers go head-to-head at Home Park on Saturday.

Plymouth’s winning run was extended with a victory in the Devon derby last weekend. The Pilgrims’ top scorer Reuben Reid took home the matchball after firing a hat-trick against Exeter, which moved him on to 15 league goals for the season.



Their run of form has seen them climb back up to sixth in Sky Bet League 2, and they are just three points off fourth as the sides above them continue to stutter.

One side keeping the pace however, is Bury. They are unbeaten in four, winning their last two, and are neck-and-neck with their weekend opponents. The pair are tied on 52 points, although the hosts boast a superior goal difference, helped by the fact they kept three successive clean sheets prior to the Devon derby.

It was Bury who took the spoils in the reverse encounter, though, in a 2-1 win. The Shakers raced in to a 2-0 lead in 15 minutes, and the Plymouth defence will have to be on their guard as David Flitcroft’s side did the same on their visit to Cheltenham a fortnight ago.

Since winning at Plymouth in 1977, Bury have only scored one goal at Home Park – in a 2-1 defeat last year – and the Pilgrims’ match-winner on that day was Reuben Reid.

DACK’S THE WAY

Burton Albion v Newport County


Newport County confirmed earlier this week that Jimmy Dack will be in charge until the end of the campaign, and he takes his side to league leaders Burton Albion this weekend.

Dack took the helm following Justin Edinburgh’s departure to Gillingham, and he brought a four-game losing run to an end by drawing with Tranmere, before registering a fine 2-1 win at Wycombe.

Despite a home loss to Morecambe last time out, the Newport board were happy with the caretaker’s efforts and he will now be in charge until May as the Exiles chase a Play-Off place.

Yan Klukowski’s brace against Wycombe was a much-needed boost with Newport struggling for goals recently. They have just scored three in their last seven, and no Exiles striker has found the net since Chris Zebroski’s winner at Cheltenham in their final game of 2014.

The Welsh club face a tough task this weekend, when they travel to Burton Albion. The Brewers sit three points clear at the top of the table, but slipped up with a surprising loss against Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night.

Their perfect home form under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink came to an end recently too, although they remain unbeaten at the Pirelli under the Dutchman, following a goalless stalemate against AFC Wimbledon.

Newport also go into this fixture having failed to get the better of Burton in seven competitive meetings. Incredibly, five of the seven encounters have finished 1-1, including the reverse fixture at Rodney Parade in August. However, the Brewers have won the last two at the Pirelli by a one-goal margin.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

The four sides sandwiched in between Burton and Plymouth are also on home soil this weekend, with that group of teams led by Shrewsbury.

The Shrews' unbeaten record at Greenhous Meadow this season currently stands at 16 games, in which they have let in just six goals – a Football League best. They do welcome the division’s highest scorers on Saturday though, when Northampton make the trip to Shropshire.

Wycombe closed the gap on the Shrews last time out with a hard-earned win at Carlisle, but they have lost their last two matches at Adams Park, ahead of the visit of Stevenage, who are unbeaten in three and sit just four points off the Play-Offs.

Luton have won just one of their last five games, losing their most recent two, and they entertain Accrington on Saturday. John Coleman's men are 15th with 10 points picked up from their last 12 available, but they've shipped a league-high 30 goals in their 16 away games.

Despite those defeats for the Hatters, they remain a point clear of fifth-placed Southend, another side to have suffered two losses on the bounce. Carlisle though, who they host on Saturday, have fared slightly worse. Keith Curle’s side have lost their past three and sit just two points above the relegation zone, as well as having the leakiest defence in Sky Bet League 2 – the Cumbrians have seen 56 goals fly past them this term.

A midweek point picked up at Cambridge took AFC Wimbledon up into 10th, seven points off the top seven, ahead of their visit to basement side Hartlepool, who sit eight points adrift at the bottom after back-to-back defeats.

Morecambe have alternated between victories and defeats over their past four fixtures, maintaining their mid-table position, and they host an out-of-form Cambridge, who are winless in seven.

Exeter go to York having struggled to find three points of late, going six games without success. The Minstermen, meanwhile, doubled their win tally at Bootham Crescent in their last home outing, defeating Tranmere. This will be the 50th meeting between York and Exeter, with the Grecians leading 23-18 in the head-to-head.

Portsmouth’s fine comeback against Tranmere on Tuesday was their third victory on the bounce, and it lifted them up to 13th. Andy Awford’s side are now unbeaten in six, and they are back at Fratton Park on Saturday to host Oxford. There hasn’t been a home win in this fixture since 1998, when the U’s ran out 3-0 winners at the Manor Ground.

Oxford were also comfortable 3-0 victors last weekend, against Mansfield, and it’s the Stags who round off Saturday’s games by hosting Dagenham & Redbridge. The Daggers also lost last weekend – 3-1 at Burton – and they sit just one place and two points above Adam Murray’s side.

They will fall behind Mansfield with defeat at the One Call Stadium, but Wayne Burnett’s side have been at their best on the road this term, picking 20 of their 37 points up on their travels. Dagenham have kept four clean sheets from their five encounters against the Stags, but they were comfortably beaten 3-0 on their last visit to Mansfield.

SKY BET LEAGUE 2 WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday 28th February 2015


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

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