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Match Previews

Preview: Boxing Day

26 December 2017

The feast of festive Sky Bet EFL football continues, with a full programme of fixtures to look forward to on Boxing Day. Here’s the preview…

Rampant Rams

Derby County turned up the heat on second-placed Cardiff City with a 3-0 dispatching of Millwall, which put Gary Rowett’s men within three points of the automatic promotion places.

That win was County’s fourth in as many games and, with an away clash against Hull City next on the horizon, the Rams have victory once again in their sights.

Nigel Adkins began life at the KCOM Stadium on a perfect note, courtesy of a winning start at home to Brentford but, back-to-back 1-0 losses have followed suit, so a return to form is paramount on Tuesday.

Life after Monk

After their last outing at Sheffield Wednesday came the news that Middlesbrough and Garry Monk had parted company.

Boro are currently ninth in the Sky Bet Championship table and welcome Bolton Wanderers to the Riverside, for a game which academy manager Craig Liddle will be in the dugout for.

Predictably buoyed by a 2-0 home victory over high-flying Cardiff, the Trotters are bound to provide a stern test for sure.

Around the grounds

The Championship schedule gets under way at the Den, with Millwall entertaining table-topping Wolverhampton Wanderers — proceedings in Bermondsey commence at 1pm.

An in-form Preston North End outfit, whose recent seven-game unbeaten has brought a halt to a slight October dip, take on Barnsley at Oakwell.

There are two helpings of live Sky Sports fixtures on Boxing Day, as Leeds United make the journey to Burton Albion.

Once the majority of the day’s business is done, it’s over to Griffin Park, where Brentford and Aston Villa will round-off Matchday 24.

Sky Bet Championship: Matchday 24 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Tuesday 26th December 2017

Barnsley v Preston North End
Birmingham City v Norwich City
Brentford v Aston Villa (7:30pm - live on Sky Sports)
Bristol City v Reading
Burton Albion v Leeds United (live on Sky Sports)
Cardiff City v Fulham
Hull City v Derby County
Ipswich Town v Queens Park Rangers
Middlesbrough v Bolton Wanderers
Millwall v Wolverhampton Wanderers (1pm) 
Nottingham Forest v Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield United v Sunderland

Summit meeting

The division’s top two clash at the DW Stadium, with Wigan Athletic and Shrewsbury Town doing battle.

Both picked up victories on Saturday, as the Latics put seven past Oxford United, while the Shrews saw off Portsmouth.

Paul Hurst’s Town team won out in the reverse encounter back in September, as Stefan Payne scored the only goal in a 1-0 win.

Iron to end Bloomfield Road hoodoo?

It’s fair to say trips to Blackpool haven’t been the most enjoyable for Scunthorpe United since the turn of the century.

Not since a 2-0 triumph in 2000 have the men from North Lincolnshire picked up even a single point on the Seasiders’ home patch, with heavy 6-0 and 5-0 defeats along the way.

In fact, it’s over a decade ago that United were triumphant against their Boxing Day opponents. Three points would be welcome for Graham Alexander’s men, who will be aiming to apply pressure to those above them in the promotion race.

Around the grounds

Blackburn Rovers’ winning run may have come to an end at Northampton Town on Matchday 23, but a triumph at home to Rochdale this time around could see a potential rise to second in the standings.

Following a 2-1 loss at the hands of AFC Wimbledon, Bradford City have the chance to bounce back, when Peterborough United visit the Northern Commercials Stadium.

Success at Milton Keynes Dons for Plymouth Argyle would make it three maximum points hauls on the spin for the Green Army, who are now positioned outside of the Sky Bet League One relegation zone.

There are two early kick-offs to note also, as Gillingham host Oxford United, while Charlton Athletic visit Southend United.

Sky Bet League One: Matchday 24 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Tuesday 26th December 2017

Blackburn Rovers v Rochdale
Blackpool v Scunthorpe United
Bradford City v Peterborough United
Bury v Rotherham United
Doncaster Rovers v Northampton Town
Gillingham v Oxford United (1pm)
Milton Keynes Dons v Plymouth Argyle
Oldham Athletic v Fleetwood Town
Portsmouth v AFC Wimbledon
Southend United v Charlton Athletic (1pm) 
Walsall v Bristol Rovers
Wigan Athletic v Shrewsbury Town

Magpies to build on remarkable comeback?

With just over 15 minutes left on the clock at Meadow Lane on Saturday, Notts County trailed Cambridge United 3-0, but an incredible turn of events saw the hosts bounce back to earn a point.

The stoppage-time equaliser which Jonathan Forte struck is sure to lend a boost to Kevin Nolan and his players ahead of an away encounter at Morecambe.

For the Shrimps, it’s just one win in the last six. However, the carrot of moving further away from the bottom two is one they’ll not want to turn down.

Red Devils host U’s

Impressive wins over top-half opposition such as Mansfield Town and Accrington Stanley have seen Crawley Town accumulate six points out of a possible nine.

They sit 17th, and have a comfortable cushion back to those teams currently fighting it out towards the foot of the standings.

Colchester United arrive at the Stadium on the back of a home draw with Port Vale, that was proceeded by consecutive victories at the expense of Exeter City and Swindon Town respectively.

Around the grounds

Tuesday’s curtain-raiser takes place at Blundell Park, as Grimsby Town face off against a Mansfield Town team who beat Morecambe last time out.

League leaders Luton Town’s next assignment is at the County Ground, where Swindon Town lie in wait, in what will be the two teams’ first league meeting in Wiltshire in over 10 years.

Matters continue to be tight in and around the Sky Bet League Two drop zone, with just goal difference covering Barnet, Chesterfield and Forest Green — those clubs are respectively 22nd, 23rd and 24th at present.

Mark McGhee’s Bees are at Cambridge United, the Spireites, led by Jack Lester, host Crewe Alexandra, and Mark Cooper takes his Rovers players to Exeter City.

Sky Bet League Two: Matchday 24 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Tuesday 26th December 2017

Cambridge United v Barnet
Carlisle United v Accrington Stanley
Cheltenham Town v Yeovil Town
Chesterfield v Crewe Alexandra
Crawley Town v Colchester United
Exeter City v Forest Green Rovers
Grimsby Town v Mansfield Town (1pm) 
Lincoln City v Stevenage
Morecambe v Notts County
Port Vale v Coventry City
Swindon Town v Luton Town
Wycombe Wanderers v Newport County


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