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Match Previews

Sky Bet EFL: Matchday preview

3 March 2017

The football just keeps on coming, and March gets started with a full schedule across the three divisions. Here's a rundown of the latest set of fixtures in the EFL...

On the road again...

A trip to Brighton & Hove Albion proved fruitful for Newcastle United in midweek, and now they face another tough test when they head to Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

The third-placed Terriers are the division's form team with six wins and a draw from their last seven, a run of form which has catapulted them back into the title race.

Saturday evening's game will be shown live on Sky Sports, and it will be the first encounter between the pair at the John Smith's Stadium. The last league meeting in West Yorkshire came in 1984, when Huddersfield were homed at Leeds Road.

Battles at the bottom

Two sides in the relegation zone meet this weekend, with Blackburn Rovers hosting Wigan Athletic.

Tony Mowbray earned three points on his Ewood Park bow in midweek which took his side above the Latics, and a second straight win would propel Rovers out of the relegation zone.

That's because two more struggling sides, Bristol City and Burton Albion, go head-to-head, and Blackburn can leapfrog either side dependent on the result at Ashton Gate.

Around the grounds

Brighton are away at Nottingham Forest as they look to bounce back from their Tuesday night loss, and they haven't lost at the City Ground since 2006.

Play-Off chasing Reading and Sheffield Wednesday have both lost two in a row, but have home fixtures this weekend.

The Royals host Wolves, who could drop into the bottom three depending on results, while the Owls welcome a Norwich City side who are eyeing up a top-six spot themselves.

The action starts on Friday night, when Birmingham City and Leeds United do battle in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Table: Click here to see the Sky Bet Championship table

Sky Bet Championship: Matchday 35 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Friday 3rd March 2017

Birmingham City v Leeds United (7:45pm - live on Sky Sports)

Saturday 4th March 2017

Blackburn Rovers v Wigan Athletic
Bristol City v Burton Albion
Derby County v Barnsley
Fulham v Preston North End
Huddersfield Town v Newcastle United (5:30pm - live on Sky Sports)
Ipswich Town v Brentford
Nottingham Forest v Brighton & Hove Albion
Queens Park Rangers v Cardiff City
Reading v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Rotherham United v Aston Villa
Sheffield Wednesday v Norwich City

Social media: Follow @SkyBetChamp on Twitter for goal updates

The fight for second, and a fight for form

While Sheffield United sit seven points clear at the top of Sky Bet League One, the battle beneath them is becoming highly competitive.

One of the reasons for that has been Scunthorpe United's loss of form – a midweek home reverse to AFC Wimbledon means the Iron are winless in six.

And then there's Fleetwood Town, who are undefeated in 17 matches, a run of results that has seen them move level with Graham Alexander's men on 61 points. Now, they meet at Glanford Park this weekend.

Back to business

Oxford United have hit a purple patch, winning five of the last six to put themselves in sight of a Play-Off place, with games in hand on the teams above them.

The U's took a break from Sky Bet League One action in midweek to see if they could extend their impressive run into the Checkatrade Trophy - and they did.

A thrilling 3-2 win away at Luton Town means Michael Appleton and his men are heading back to Wembley for another crack at the competition they were runners-up in last year, but for now it's back to the league and a home fixture with a Bristol Rovers side who have drawn six in a row.

Around the grounds

Bolton Wanderers host the team that upset Scunthorpe on the road in midweek, AFC Wimbledon, as the promotion-chasing Trotters look to end a three-game winless streak.

Again, there are some important battles at the other end of the table, including Swindon Town versus Chesterfield, who are both sitting in the bottom four at present.

Two sides just above the relegation zone are Bury and Gillingham, and they lock horns with new Shakers boss Lee Clark looking for a fourth straight victory since taking the reins at Gigg Lane.

Table: Click here to see the Sky Bet League One table

Sky Bet League One: Matchday 36 fixtures (3pm kick-off)

Saturday 4th March 2017

Bolton Wanderers v AFC Wimbledon
Bradford City v Peterborough United
Bury v Gillingham
Millwall v Milton Keynes Dons
Northampton Town v Charlton Athletic
Oxford United v Bristol Rovers
Rochdale v Sheffield United
Scunthorpe United v Fleetwood Town
Shrewsbury Town v Coventry City
Southend United v Port Vale
Swindon Town v Chesterfield
Walsall v Oldham Athletic

Social media: Follow @SkyBetLeagueOne on Twitter for goal updates

Strugglers' showdown

The two clubs in Sky Bet League Two's relegation zone meet this weekend at Rodney Parade, as Newport County host Leyton Orient.

The Exiles are have tallied 26 points from 33 games and Orient 29 from 34, and both sides have just one win in their last 10.

Three points is almost a must for either side if they are to avoid losing further ground on those above them. Hartlepool United and Crewe Alexandra are their nearest rivals on 35 points, and both are at home this Saturday.

Pompey to pounce?

There have been a few stutters of late towards the top end of Sky Bet League Two, and even Portsmouth may be disappointed after being held to a draw despite a dominant midweek performance against Morecambe.

However, they are the only ones in the top four who haven't lost any of their last five games, and three points this weekend will see them make more ground on their rivals and, possibly, into the automatic promotion places.

Struggling Crewe are the visitors to Fratton Park, while Plymouth Argyle and Carlisle United meet in a battle between second and third. Should the Cumbrians drop points, Paul Cook's Pompey have the opportunity to move into the top three.

Around the grounds

Doncaster returned to winning ways at Cambridge United in midweek, and could also take advantage of that Plymouth versus Carlisle clash – they visit Crawley Town.

Luton Town travel to Yeovil Town looking to bounce back from their midweek Checkatrade Trophy semi-final loss, while fellow top-six side Exeter City travel up north to face lowly Hartlepool.

Cheltenham Town have won three in a row to climb nine points ahead of safety, and the Robins host Mansfield Town, who are just one place and one point outside of the top seven.

Table: Click here to see the Sky Bet League Two table

Sky Bet League Two: Matchday 35 fixtures (3pm kick-off)

Saturday 4th March 2017
Accrington Stanley v Barnet
Blackpool v Morecambe
Cambridge United v Colchester United
Cheltenham Town v Mansfield Town
Crawley Town v Doncaster Rovers
Grimsby Town v Wycombe Wanderers
Hartlepool United v Exeter City
Newport County v Leyton Orient
Plymouth Argyle v Carlisle United
Portsmouth v Crewe Alexandra
Stevenage v Notts County
Yeovil Town v Luton Town

Social media: Follow @SkyBetLeagueTwo on Twitter for goal updates

MATCH OFFICIALS: Click here to see the referees on EFL duty this weekend

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