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Match Previews

Sky Bet EFL: Matchday preview

10 March 2017

After a small dose of midweek football, we're back with another jam-packed weekend of EFL action.

Here, we take a look at what lies ahead over the next two days...

Play-Off push

Fulham are currently five points adrift of the Play-Off places, with a game in hand, and face a tough test this weekend if they are to keep the pressure on the sides above them.

Newcastle United are their opponents and, although they've won the last two Craven Cottage meetings 1-0, the Cottagers have lost their two previous visits to St James' Park by the same scoreline.

Tom Cairney rescued a point against fourth-placed Leeds United in midweek, but it's the result of another Yorkshire side, Sheffield Wednesday, who they'll be looking out for at the full-time whistle.

The Owls hold that coveted sixth spot, but face a tricky trip to Aston Villa on Matchday 37.

Winless worries

Wolverhampton Wanderers halted a five-game losing streak in midweek, but a goalless draw at Ipswich Town still leaves the club searching for a first win since 31st January.

Now 21st and just a point above the bottom three, Paul Lambert's men need a boost, and they have the perfect chance to get back to winning ways when welcoming rock-bottom Rotherham United to Molineux.

The Millers have accrued just 17 points in the Sky Bet Championship, and only one of them has come on their travels – a 2-2 draw at Portman Road in October.

Around the grounds

Brighton & Hove Albion versus Derby County gets the weekend under way in a Friday night fixture to be screened live on Sky Sports. A Seagulls victory will see them go level on points with Newcastle at the top of the table.

Third-placed Huddersfield Town visit a Brentford side who have picked up 10 points from an available 12, while Leeds host QPR and fifth-placed Reading visit Preston North End.

Norwich City's bid to keep their fading Play-Off hopes alive continues at home to Blackburn Rovers, who have been revitalized under the unbeaten Tony Mowbray.

At the other end, Wigan Athletic host Bristol City, where a winner could clamber out of the relegation zone, dependent on other results.

Table: Click here to see the Sky Bet Championship table

Sky Bet Championship: Matchday 37 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Friday 10th March 2017

Brighton & Hove Albion v Derby County (7:45pm - live on Sky Sports)

Saturday 11th March 2017

Aston Villa v Sheffield Wednesday
Barnsley v Ipswich Town
Brentford v Huddersfield Town
Burton Albion v Nottingham Forest
Cardiff City v Birmingham City
Leeds United v Queens Park Rangers
Newcastle United v Fulham
Norwich City v Blackburn Rovers
Preston North End v Reading
Wigan Athletic v Bristol City
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Rotherham United

Social media: Follow @SkyBetChamp on Twitter for goal updates

The best still to come?

After surpassing their best-ever points tally in Sky Bet League One with a win over promotion rivals Scunthorpe United, Fleetwood Town face the next test in their bid to go up automatically.

Uwe Rosler said that the next two months could change the lives of his players, and the first game since defeating the Iron is a home clash with Bolton Wanderers.

Read more: Fleetwood Town - eighteen unbeaten, up to second; what next?

The Trotters have gone four games without a win, but are still only four points behind the Cod Army with a game in hand.

Should Fleetwood win again and stretch that unbeaten run to 19 games, their Championship dream will become one step closer to reality.

The short road to safety

It's just a 13-mile trip to Boundary Park from Gigg Lane, and that's the journey that Bury will make this weekend to take on their local, and relegation, rivals, Oldham Athletic.

The fixture is one that the Shakers have enjoyed over recent years, winning 2-0, 2-1 and 1-0 on their last three journeys to the home of the Latics.

Both clubs have had a recent mini-revival under new management. John Sheridan and Lee Clark were nominated for the February Manager of the Month honour after guiding their respective sides outside of the division's bottom four, but safety is by no means secured just yet.

Oldham sit three points clear of the drop zone; Bury four, meaning this derby match has plenty riding on it, especially with Port Vale and Swindon Town – the two clubs directly below them – also meeting this weekend.

Five things: Click here for EFL storylines to look out for this weekend

Around the grounds

Scunthorpe United and Rochdale have gone eight games without a win and they're both on the road this week, with the Iron visiting Gillingham and Dale making the visit to Milton Keynes Dons.

Bristol Rovers, on the other hand, are eight without loss, and host Southend United. Three points would take the Gas level with the Shrimpers as the Play-Off race intensifies.

Bradford City are away at rock-bottom Coventry City; Chesterfield welcome Shrewsbury Town in an important encounter at the wrong end of the table, and AFC Wimbledon are targeting a first ever win over Northampton Town.

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

Sky Bet League One: Matchday 37 fixtures (3pm kick-off)

Saturday 11th March 2017

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

Social media: Follow @SkyBetLeagueOne on Twitter for goal updates

Promotion pressure

The Sky Bet League Two title race continues to throw up twists and turns aplenty, with Plymouth Argyle faltering in midweek, and Portsmouth moving into the top three after overcoming Crawley Town.

Both are on their travels this Saturday against the two sides closest to the Play-Offs, Mansfield Town and Colchester United.

After losing four out of four midweek matches in 2017, Derek Adams will be glad of a return to Saturday action, albeit against a Stags outfit who have only been beaten once since the turn of the year.

Cheltenham at the races

Cheltenham Town entered 2017 sitting 23rd in Sky Bet League Two, facing a battle to retain their place in the EFL following promotion from the National League last term.

Improvements were made but by February 14th, they were only outside the bottom two on goal difference. Since then, they have found form.

Four games later, with 10 points accrued and four clean sheets garnered, Gary Johnson's men have soared up to 18th in the table, and are now seven points clear of the relegation zone.

It's a trip to Doncaster Rovers next, the team top of the table and unbeaten at home, but they have drawn their last three at the Keepmoat. Will the rejuvenated Robins take another step towards safety?

Around the grounds

While the teams above them stutter, Luton Town and Stevenage have been in good form and making ground, and they meet in a local battle between fifth and sixth.

Carlisle United, who lost their top-three place in the week, host Cambridge United, and the other side in the Play-Off places, Exeter City, host lowly Accrington Stanley.

At the other end, Leyton Orient are looking for back-to-back wins when they take on Grimsby Town. Should they triumph, then they will close the gap at the bottom due to 22nd-placed Notts County locking horns with Hartlepool United, who sit 21st.

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

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

Saturday 11th March 2017

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

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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