We look ahead to the upcoming fixtures in Sky Bet League 2.Saturday 3rd January 2015
Burton Albion v Shrewsbury Town
The Brewers (3rd – 43 points): Moved back into the automatic promotion places after their 2-0 win over Tranmere on Boxing Day. They’ve picked up seven points from the last nine available and haven’t conceded a goal in that period. Lucas Akins and Shane Cansdell-Sherriff are both injury doubts.
The Shrews (1st – 44 points): Four points from the two post-Christmas fixtures saw Micky Mellon’s side climb to the summit of Sky Bet League 2. A 2-0 win at Oxford was followed by a goalless draw against Wycombe, preserving their unbeaten home record in the process, and they have now kept five successive clean sheets.
Undefeated: Burton are yet to get the better of this weekend’s opponents despite meeting on nine previous occasions. Shrewsbury have won the last two by a solitary goal, including their clash at the end of November, when John-Louis Akpa Akpro scored a late winner.
Dagenham & Redbridge v Bury
The Daggers (23rd – 22 points): Failed to score in all four December fixtures, but did manage to pick up a point in their last game of 2014 when they held Southend to a goalless draw. Their Boxing Day defeat against Stevenage was their eighth home loss, more than any other side in the division.
The Shakers (8th – 37 points): Brought their five-game losing run to a halt with two wins to finish off the year in style. A 3-2 victory at Northampton was followed by a 2-0 win at home to Mansfield, with winger Danny Mayor finding the net in both fixtures. Hallam Hope’s loan deal from Everton has now been made permanent.
Exeter City v Accrington Stanley
The Grecians (9th – 37 points): A win and a loss from their most recent two outings kept them outside of the Play-Off spots on goal difference. A 1-0 success over Cheltenham was followed by a 4-1 thumping at Wimbledon to close out 2014. David Noble should return to the Exeter squad after re-signing permanently from Oldham.
Stanley (13th – 30 points): Fell to a 1-0 defeat at York on Boxing Day, before their scheduled home match with Burton 48 hours later was called off due to a frozen pitch. John Coleman has made versatile Seamus Conneely his first signing of January, but the Irishman cannot feature this weekend as he awaits international clearance.
Morecambe v Stevenage
The Shrimps (12th – 33 points): Suffered a disappointing Boxing Day defeat to Carlisle, losing 1-0 at the Globe Arena, before taking all three points at Hartlepool courtesy of a 2-0 triumph. Laurence Wilson picked up a hamstring injury in the second of those games and is a doubt for the weekend.
Boro (10th – 34 points): Have now won three games on the spin following their most recent victories over Dagenham & Redbridge, and then Cambridge. On-loan striker Ryan Brunt limped off during the 3-2 win over the U’s, and may have played his last game for the club with his loan deal expiring on Sunday.
Home comforts: It’s been a decade since the travelling side won a fixture between these two teams. That was back in the Conference in the 2004/05 season when both sides achieved the feat. Stevenage were 3-1 victors at their former home, Christie Park, before Morecambe exacted revenge with a 1-0 triumph later that season.
Newport County v Carlisle United
The Exiles (5th – 40 points): Posted back-to-back victories to end the year firmly in the Play-Off places. A 2-0 win over fellow promotion hopefuls Plymouth was followed up by another clean sheet at Whaddon Road, where they defeated Cheltenham 1-0. Goalkeeper Joe Day has joined permanently from Peterborough.
The Cumbrians (21st – 24 points): Recorded an impressive success at Morecambe on Boxing Day, doubling their win tally on the road this season, before losing 3-0 at home to York two days later. They have conceded 22 goals on their travels this term, the joint-highest in the division.
Make it a double: These two sides met for the first time in November, when the Exiles came out on top in a five-goal thriller at Brunton Park.
Northampton Town v Southend United
The Cobblers (20th – 24 points): Defeats at home to Bury and away at Tranmere mean they have now lost five successive matches in Sky Bet League 2. Zander Diamond and Gregor Robertson were first-half casualties in the Prenton Park reverse, and will miss out. Jason Taylor has joined on loan from Cheltenham and could start in midfield.
The Blues (6th – 39 points): Picked up four points from their two post-Christmas games, securing a 1-0 win at Cambridge before drawing 0-0 with Dagenham at Roots Hall. David Worrall is rated 50/50 as he nurses a knee problem, but defender Cian Bolger is definitely out as he begins a four-match ban.
All-square: There has been 115 meetings between these sides in all competition, and the two teams cannot be separated. The spoils have been shared on 27 occasions alongside 44 wins each, after Southend triumphed 2-0 over the Cobblers five weeks ago.
Oxford United v Cheltenham Town
The U’s (16th – 28 points): Suffered a 2-0 Boxing Day loss to Shrewsbury, but responded with a 2-1 win away at Plymouth 48 hours later. Cheyenne Dunkley will make his home bow after impressing on his debut at Home Park, while John Campbell also staked his claim for a spot after grabbing his first goal for the club against the Pilgrims.
The Robins (19th – 25 points): Fell to consecutive 1-0 defeats after Christmas, losing at Exeter and then against Newport back at Whaddon Road. Paul Buckle has brought in a trio of youngsters from Liverpool – Lloyd Jones, Kevin Steward and Jack Dunn are all available for this weekend’s trip.
Third time lucky? The pair have met twice already this season, with Oxford looking to get the better of the Robins for the first time. Cheltenham advanced in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with a 2-0 win in September, before the sides battled out a 1-1 draw at Whaddon Road two months later.
Wycombe Wanderers v Hartlepool United
The Chairboys (2nd – 44 points): Stretched their unbeaten run to six, but have drawn the last three of those following a tough end to 2014. They battled out a 1-1 draw with Luton on Boxing Day, before sharing the spoils with Shrewsbury in a goalless stalemate. Top scorer Paul Hayes is back in contention after missing the trip to the Greenhous Meadow.
Pools (24th – 14 points): Picked up a point at Mansfield on Boxing Day, drawing 1-1, before losing 2-0 at home to Morecambe two days later. No team in The Football League has scored fewer goals than Hartlepool, who currently sit eight points adrift at the bottom of the table.
Hit for six: Hartlepool’s recent efforts against Wycombe have proved fruitless with the Chairboys taking all three points in their six previous encounters, including a 3-1 win at Victoria Road at the back end of November.
York City v Plymouth Argyle
The Minstermen (18th – 26 points): Picked up their first home win of the season on Boxing Day when they defeated Accrington 1-0, and they followed that up with a convincing 3-0 success on the road at Carlisle. Diego De Girolamo is a doubt with a foot injury, so Josh Carson could deputise.
The Pilgrims (7th – 37 points): Suffered back-to-back defeats after an impressive recent run, going down 2-0 to Newport on Boxing Day, before losing 2-1 at home to Oxford. Aaron Bentley was sent off against the U’s and misses out through suspension, but Curtis Nelson and Peter Hartley should return to boost their defensive options.
All kick-off times are 3pm.