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Match Previews

Sky Bet League 1 weekend preview

23 January 2015

We look ahead to the weekend action in Sky Bet League 1.

DERBY DAY

Port Vale v Crewe Alexandra


There's a local derby in Sky Bet League 1 on Saturday as Port Vale take on near-neighbours Crewe Alexandra at Vale Park.

While the travelling Crewe are still engrained in the division's relegation battle, the Valiants have pushed on since the October appointment of manager Rob Page, and they now sit 11th, only a point off the Play-Offs.

Hosts Vale overcame Peterborough 2-1 in their last outing for a fourth win in six but the Alex lost to Notts County by the same scoreline, to end their four-game undefeated run.

The reverse fixture between these two in September also ended 2-1, in Crewe's favour – their first points of the season after five straight losses - but neither team has done the double over the other since Port Vale won both meetings in the 1985/86 season.

The Valiants hold the upper hand in the overall head-to-head record, with 33 victories to the Railwaymen's 18, alongside 21 draws.

Crossing enemy lines: Port Vale have five former Crewe players in their ranks – Tom Pope, Byron Moore, Adam Yates, Michael O'Connor and Colin Daniel.

Striker Pope has missed the last 13 games through a knee injury but he could be fit enough to make the matchday squad, which is a huge boost to Vale with the front man still their leading scoring this term, despite his spell out.

Crewe manager Steve Davis has also been handed a lift with captain Matt Tootle in line for a return after three months on the sidelines, as they go in search of only their third away victory of the campaign.


PLUMMETING POSH

Notts County v Peterborough United


Peterborough United's slide down the Sky Bet League 1 table continued last weekend when they lost 2-1 to Port Vale, and they visit Notts County this time around.

That defeat was Peterborough's fourth loss in five and it means they've notched only one win in 12, which has seen them plummet from the Play-Off contingent down to 15th.

Their weekend opponents County have also slipped out of the top six but they ended a run of seven winless games by beating Crewe 2-1 last weekend, before a goalless draw with Doncaster Rovers in midweek left them one point adrift of the top six.

That home victory against the Alex was just their fourth triumph at Meadow Lane this term ahead of the visit of Peterborough, who've collected 16 points from their 12 games on the road.

Recent meetings between these two had involved plenty of goals – they shared 19 over four matches between 2010 and 2014 – but they battled out a goalless stalemate in the reverse clash in mid-September.

BATTLE AT THE BOTTOM

Colchester United v Leyton Orient


Colchester United and Leyton Orient are separated by only two points towards the foot of the Sky Bet League 1 table ahead of their clash this weekend.

The hosting U's are the lower of the two, sitting 22nd with 24 points, while Leyton Orient are just outside the relegation zone, in 20th on 26 points, highlighting just how crucial this match is.

Last time out Colchester suffered their fifth successive home defeat – their worst run since 1989 – by losing 2-0 to Walsall. Their most recent victory at the Weston Homes Community Stadium came way back in October, when they overcame Chesterfield 2-1, and they possess the division's worst home record as a result.

That's a worrying statistic for United and it's compounded this weekend by the fact Leyton Orient have fared much better on their travels this term, earning 17 of their 26 points away from home.

But Colchester have been boosted by the additions of strike duo Jack Marriott and Chris Porter, as well as defender Matthew Briggs, who are all in line to make their debuts.

Orient, on the other hand, have secured Birmingham City defender Neal Eardley on a one-month loan deal, and he's likely to make his first appearance for the club in Essex on Saturday.

Familiar face: Leyton Orient striker Kevin Lisbie will be familiar to Colchester United and their supporters as he played for the club over two spells, scoring 30 goals over 86 appearances.


AROUND THE GROUNDS

Rock-bottom Yeovil Town have registered four points over their last two games and host Coventry City at Huish Park on Saturday.

The Glovers picked up their second home win of the season last weekend, prior to a 1-1 draw with Preston, and Gozie Ugwu has netted two goals in those two games, making an immediate impact after signing a deal until the end of the season.

The front man was substituted in the Glovers' last match but manager Gary Johnson is hopeful he'll be fit to face the Sky Blues, who have lost seven of their 13 away games so far.

Crawley Town are also in the thick of things at the bottom and they go to Fleetwood Town.

The Reds are winless in 11 after falling 4-1 to Rochdale last time out but they will take confidence from the fact they've never lost to the Cod Army, in their three meetings – the reverse clashed finished 1-0 in their favour.

Fleetwood know that three points could lift them into the Play-Off places, though, and have only suffered three defeats in 13 Sky Bet League 1 outings at Highbury this term.

Oldham inflicted one of those three losses last weekend, winning 2-0 at the home of the Cod Army, ahead of their trip to Gillingham this Saturday.

That ended the Latics' run of four matches without a victory and moved them onto 34 points, two off the top six. Two points is the margin that separates the Gills from the relegation zone after they recovered from three successive defeats to see off Coventry last time out.

Matches between Oldham and Gillingham tend to be tight with no more than one goal separating the two teams in their seven most recent encounters.

The other match in Sky Bet League 1 this weekend sees Milton Keynes Dons, who possess the division's best home form, entertain Barnsley.

The third-placed Dons have collected 29 points from 13 games at stadiummk and have the opportunity to close the gap on the top two, which currently stands at six points.

The Tykes, meanwhile, are three points above the drop zone after an inconsistent run which has seen them alternate between defeats and victories over their last five matches.

If the reverse meeting is anything to go by, expect a thriller as Karl Robinson's men coasted into a 5-0 lead before Barnsley hit back late on to make the final score 5-3. Devante Cole scored one of the Tykes' goals in that game, but he is in line to make his MK debut this weekend having joined on loan from Manchester City after the completion of his spell at Oakwell.


SKY BET LEAGUE 1 WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday 22nd January 2015


Colchester United v Leyton Orient
Fleetwood Town v Crawley Town
Gillingham v Oldham Athletic
Milton Keynes Dons v Barnsley
Notts County v Peterborough United
Port Vale v Crewe Alexandra
Yeovil Town v Coventry City

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