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Match Previews

Sky Bet League 2 weekend preview

30 January 2015

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


Hartlepool United v Plymouth Argyle

Plymouth Argyle are without a win in six games but they can get their Play-Off bid back on track this weekend when they make the near-700 mile round trip north to face Hartlepool United.

John Sheridan’s side were flying up until Christmas, boasting The Football League’s strongest defence and launching an assault on the automatic promotion places. However, they have failed to win since Boxing Day, and now find themselves four points off the Play-Offs, down in 10th.

They have found the net just twice in that period, including once in last week’s 1-1 draw with Morecambe. Reuben Reid grabbed the opener at Home Park for his 12th league goal of the season, just one behind Northampton’s Marc Richards at the top of the goal-scoring charts.

Home is where the heart is: Argyle have flourished at Home Park this season but they've struggled on the road – they’ve scored just 8 goals, with only Portsmouth (6) and Mansfield (7) netting fewer on their travels.

Despite their poor recent form, the Pilgrims have still only conceded 19 goals this term - a figure only bettered by Shrewsbury and Luton-  and that is something that won’t fill their struggling opponents with confidence.

Hartlepool have managed to score just 19 times in their 27 league games, and they have only one win from 11 which was a home success against Cheltenham a fortnight ago. Pools also drew 1-1 last weekend, thanks to Scott Fenwick’s equaliser at Tranmere, but they still prop up The Football League.

The sides are all-square after 23 competitive meetings – both have eight wins and there has been seven stalemates over the years. The Pilgrims recorded a 2-0 victory over Pools earlier this season.


Exeter City v Tranmere Rovers

Tranmere Rovers are unbeaten in four and will travel down to St James’ Park this Saturday to take on Play-Off chasing Exeter City.

The aforementioned draw against fellow relegation rivals Hartlepool was enough to keep Tranmere‘s heads above water – they remain out of the bottom two on goal difference after picking up eight points from a possible 12.

That good run of form has been helped by Kayode Odejayi and Rory Donnelly, who have formed a dangerous strike partnership over recent weeks. Odejayi sent Donnelly away for his second goal against Accrington a fortnight ago, and the on-loan Swansea striker returned the favour last Saturday when he crossed for the Nigerian striker to volley home.

Exeter had lost three games on the spin to lose their spot among the Play-Off places, but a win and a draw from their last two games has left them just three points off the pack.

Raise your game: Exeter are yet to lose to a top-five side at home this term, but their record against sides in the bottom half makes for grim reading. Hartlepool and Mansfield have recorded rare away successes at St James Park, while the Grecians have also lost their last two at home to sides towards the wrong end of the table.

The reverse fixture in September saw the Grecians come away with all three points, thanks to a 2-1 triumph, however Rovers have the head-to-head advantage with 16 wins to Exeter’s 12, with only five draws.


Morecambe v AFC Wimbledon

Two of the sides sitting in mid-table meet at the Globe Arena this weekend, with AFC Wimbledon making the trip up to Morecambe.

Both teams have won 10 and lost 10 so far this season, and the only difference is an additional draw for Morecambe, who have played a game more than their opponents.

The Shrimps’ mid-table position has been compounded by their January form. They have shared the spoils in all four matches, with the first two ending goalless, and the most recent outings both finishing 1-1, including their stalemate at Plymouth last weekend.

Hit the road, Jack: Morecambe have picked up five points from their last three away games, and three of their four goals have come from Jack Redshaw, including his headed equaliser last weekend.

Wimbledon triumphed in their last fixture with a 2-1 win over Accrington, which brought their goal difference back to zero, having seen 37 goals fly in at either end.

That success at Kingsmeadow was their first victory since the departure of 12-goal top scorer Matt Tubbs, and Neal Ardley will now need to rely on his strike force of Adebayo's to get the goals, with Akinfenwa and Azeez the likely pairing up front.

It was Azeez who netted the winner last weekend and it was Akinfenwa who separated these sides back in September, when his first-half header gave the Dons a narrow victory in what was just the seventh meeting between the two clubs.


Sky Bet League 2 leaders Wycombe are now 10 games unbeaten following last weekend’s goalless stalemate with Mansfield, and they face an out-of-sorts Portsmouth side at Adams Park on Saturday.

Shrewsbury remain hot on the tails of the Chairboys, and they are off to Wales to face Newport County, who have lost their last two fixtures.

Burton haven’t lost in eight and they sit level on points with the Shrews. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s untarnished home form will be tested as they welcome Bury to the Pirelli, with the Shakers regaining form over recent weeks.

The last team to defeat Bury was Dagenham & Redbridge, yet the Daggers are still struggling at the wrong end of the table. A midweek draw with Cambridge took Wayne Burnett’s side out of the relegation zone on goal difference, and they host Paul Buckle’s Cheltenham this weekend.

That draw for Dagenham meant Carlisle slipped back into the bottom two, with Keith Curle’s side picking up just three points from their last five games. That’s one more than their opponents this weekend, Mansfield, who have just two draws from their last five outings, and they will be leapfrogged by the Cumbrians if they lose again on Saturday.

Like the Stags, York City are just a point clear of the bottom two, and they face a tough test on the east coast to face in-form Southend. The Blues have gone seven games without a loss, and have recorded back-to-back victories to leave them sitting fifth.

Stevenage are another team on form, although their impressive recent run came to an end at Shrewsbury last week as they suffered a late 3-2 defeat. They have the chance to bounce back against Oxford this weekend, who are yet to record a victory in 2015.

Victories haven’t been a problem for Northampton since the turn of the year - they have won three on the spin and named the same starting XI for all those games. This weekend they travel to Accrington Stanley who have lost their last three, and who were leapfrogged by the Cobblers last weekend.

Finally, the two promoted clubs from last season go head-to-head for the third time this season, with Luton looking to extend their fine run at Kenilworth Road against Cambridge. The Hatters haven’t lost at home in the league since early September and won the reverse fixture, but they have come unstuck against Cambridge already in 2015, with the U’s marching on in the FA Cup thanks to a 2-1 triumph earlier this month.


Saturday 31st January 2015

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

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