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Match Previews

Sky Bet League 1 weekend preview

30 January 2015

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

CONTRASTING TROPHY FORTUNES

Walsall v Gillingham

While Walsall sealed their place at Wembley Stadium for the first time ever this week in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, Gillingham fell at the final hurdle to Bristol City, and the two sides meet in the West Midlands on Sunday evening.

A 0-0 second leg draw was enough to see the Saddlers into the Trophy Final, after a 2-0 opening leg success, and a win against Gillingham in the 6pm kick-off would round off their historic week in style.



The Saddlers are currently 15th in Sky Bet League 1 on 33 points, which is four short of the Play-Off places and six above the relegation zone. The Gills are one place below Walsall in the standings with only two points fewer, highlighting the significance of this clash.

Both teams have a record of three defeats and two wins over their last five but Gillingham's victories have come in their most recent two outings, against Oldham and Coventry, scoring three goals in each.

Discounting the goalless Trophy draw with Preston, Walsall are on a run of three straight home defeats but, at the same time, they've notched three successive away wins.

And that total of triumphs on the road is more than Gillingham have recorded all season, as they possess the second-worst away form in Sky Bet League 1 with only nine points collected from 13 trips.

Level-pegging: The last five meetings between Gillingham and Walsall have ended level, including the reverse fixture in September, which finished goalless.

ROCK-BOTTOM REDS

Crawley Town v Preston North End

Crawley Town prop up the Sky Bet League 1 table and they face promotion-chasing Preston North End this weekend.

The Reds are on a torrid run of 14 winless matches and, with their fellow strugglers all picking up points in recent weeks, that form has seen them slip to the foot of the division.

Dean Saunders has now been in charge for five matches, since taking over from John Gregory, and in that time his side have notched two points, but they've lost their last three in succession against Play-Off contending trio Rochdale, Fleetwood and Chesterfield.

Preston have somewhat struggled in recent matches, failing to pick up three points themselves since Boxing Day, four league games ago.

They've shared the spoils in three of those matches, including in the most recent two against lowly Leyton Orient and Yeovil Town, and in all competitions they've drawn four on the bounce.

But they did get the better of Crawley when these sides last met, in September, as Bailey Wright and Joe Garner found the net for a comfortable 2-0 North End success.

The Lilywhites also won their encounter with the Reds at the back end of last season, following a draw in their previous meeting, meaning they are unbeaten in three against their West Sussex opponents.

Simon Grayson's side are the third best travellers in the division so far this term with seven victories from 13 outings on the road, and they've conceded just 11 away goals which represents a joint league-best.



FINE LINES

Barnsley v Port Vale


Barnsley have slipped to 19th and host 12th-placed Port Vale, who are only two points adrift of the Play-offs.

The Tykes find themselves towards the bottom of Sky Bet League 1, two points above the drop zone, having won just two of their last nine games, made worse by the fact they've lost three of their most recent four.

If Colchester pick up a victory in their match and Barnsley fail to get at least a point against Vale, the Tykes' troubles will worsen and they will find themselves in the bottom four by close of play on Saturday.

To make matters worse, the Yorkshire club haven't registered three points against the Valiants since December 2002, nine meetings ago, and they lost the reverse clash this season 2-1.

Close call: Although Barnsley are winless against Vale since 2002, the league head-to-head record is level at 42 victories apiece, alongside 17 draws.

Rob Page's Vale may only be two points short of the top six but their form over recent weeks has backed up their current mid-table standing, alternating between defeats and victories over their last five games.

And their away form is relatively poor, having notched three wins out of 13 on the road, collecting 12 points from a possible 39.

Fine lines: When Rob Page was appointed Vale boss on 29th October, they were level on 16 points with Barnsley in the Sky Bet League 1 table.


AROUND THE GROUNDS

If Colchester are to climb out of the relegation zone this weekend they will need to secure a win against Bradford City, who they face in Yorkshire.

The U's come into the game after two victories in three, while the Bantams will still be buoyant after their 4-2 giant-killing of Premier League leaders Chelsea in the FA Cup last weekend.

Colchester are chasing Crewe, who sit directly above them, outside the relegation zone, and the Alex are at home to third-placed Milton Keynes Dons.

Steve Davis' Railwaymen have improved over recent weeks with four wins from six but they suffered a 6-1 mauling at the hands of the high-flying Dons earlier in the campaign. A win for Karl Robinson's men would take them into the automatic promotion places as Bristol City aren't in action until Sunday when they entertain Fleetwood Town.

The Robins' go into the weekend after securing their place in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy with a 5-3 aggregate Area Final success against Gillingham, while Fleetwood are seventh following three wins in five.

If Chesterfield or Rochdale slip up on Saturday, the Cod Army will replace them in the Play-Offs with a Sunday triumph. While the Spireites welcome the visit of Doncaster Rovers, who are undefeated in six, Rochdale go on the road to Coventry City.

Leyton Orient still possess the division's worst home record and they host Scunthorpe United. The O's are the only team in Sky Bet League 1 yet to record double figures on home soil, with their 12 games at the Matchroom Stadium yielding a meagre nine points.

Yeovil have the next worst home record but they are on the road this weekend, at Peterborough United. The Glovers look to have turned a corner having notched five points from their last three outings, and the Posh recorded their first victory in six last weekend.

Oldham sit one place below Peterborough in the standings and go to Notts County, who they trail by a single point. Shaun Derry's Magpies have one win in 10 but remain just two points off the Play-Offs.

Finally, leaders Swindon Town take their good form to Sheffield United. Mark Cooper's side have tabled four wins from five to maintain their tussle at the top with Bristol City, while the Blades have secured only one victory in eight and have slipped to ninth as a result.

SKY BET LEAGUE 1 WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday 31st January 2015


Barnsley v Port Vale
Bradford City v Colchester United
Chesterfield v Doncaster Rovers
Coventry City v Rochdale
Crawley Town v Preston North End
Crewe Alexandra v Milton Keynes Dons
Leyton Orient v Scunthorpe United
Oldham Athletic v Notts County
Peterborough United v Yeovil Town
Sheffield United v Swindon Town

Sunday 1st February 2015

Bristol City v Fleetwood Town
Walsall v Gillingham

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