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Match Previews

Sky Bet EFL: Matchday preview

24 March 2017

It's international break, which means a reduced EFL schedule this weekend, although there's still plenty going on across two days.

As a mark of respect to those who lost their lives or were injured in this week’s tragic attacks in London, EFL clubs will hold a minute’s silence before their fixtures this weekend.

Read more: Football united - EFL clubs to hold a minute's silence to pay tribute

Here's what lies ahead...

Defence or attack? Oldham Athletic versus Sheffield United

The fourth best defence in Sky Bet League One, quite an impressive feat? Definitely, but that statistic doesn't read so well when you sit 19th and just three points above the relegation zone.

That's the situation Oldham find themselves in, despite having conceded five less than the leaders, Sheffield United, who sit six points clear at the top ahead of the weekend meeting.

The big difference is, of course, goals scored. Chris Wilder's men have hit 73 goals from their 38 games, whereas the Latics have 26 – incidentally the same amount as the Blades' top scorer, Billy Sharp. This weekend will be the biggest test of their backline to date.

Roaring and drawing – Millwall unbeaten in 16

Millwall earned a midweek point at Rochdale, sharing the spoils in a six-goal thriller and extending their unbeaten league run to 16 matches. However, their failure to hold on to a 2-0 advantage meant it would be no return to the top six for Neil Harris' side.

The manager had mixed emotions after the result, but knew his side were not at their best, telling "My team over the last few months has been built on being solid - we weren't that in parts tonight. I want to be attacking and free-flowing, I want to score goals, but not at the expense of giving away silly goals.”

The record since December 21st reads won eight, drawn eight. Last week's stalemate with Bury saw the Lions overtaken by Southend United, and the 3-3 draw at Spotland sees the Shrimpers stay there on goal difference. Next up, struggling Swindon Town.

Around the grounds

Six unbeaten and with four straight wins under their belt, second-placed Bolton Wanderers travel to Shrewsbury Town this weekend. The Shrews are just two points above the drop zone, and could fall into the bottom four should Port Vale defeat Milton Keynes Dons at Vale Park.

The teams in third and sixth, Fleetwood Town and Southend United, visit Bury and AFC Wimbledon, while fifth and fourth meet on Sunday. Scunthorpe United face Bradford City in a lunchtime kick-off on Sky Sports.

Bristol Rovers, Oxford United and Rochdale still have the Play-Offs in sight, and all are on the road, facing Coventry City, Northampton Town and Chesterfield respectively.

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

Sky Bet League One: Matchday 40 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Saturday 25th March 2017

AFC Wimbledon v Southend United
Bury v Fleetwood Town
Chesterfield v Rochdale
Coventry City v Bristol Rovers
Gillingham v Peterborough United
Northampton Town v Oxford United
Oldham Athletic v Sheffield United
Port Vale v Milton Keynes Dons
Shrewsbury Town v Bolton Wanderers
Swindon Town v Millwall (1:30pm)

Sunday 26th March 2017

Scunthorpe United v Bradford City (12:30pm - live on Sky Sports)

Social media: Follow @SkyBetLeagueOne on Twitter for goal updates

Top two meet – Doncaster Rovers v Plymouth Argyle

A must-see game, and perhaps a must-win for the visitors, takes place at 2:45pm this Sunday, and it will be screened live on Sky Sports.

Doncaster play host to Plymouth, who currently trail the Sky Bet League Two leaders by six points, and defeat at the Keepmoat Stadium this weekend would make their task of clinching the crown all the more difficult.

Just the task of toppling Donny this weekend is a tough one, bearing in mind that Darren Ferguson's men have won 13 and drawn six of their 19 home fixtures so far. However, the Pilgrims boast the division's best record on the road, with 36 points picked up from 18 games.

This is not one to be missed.

Eight unbeaten, eight remaining, eighth place – Blackpool challenging

The race for the Sky Bet League Two title, the battle for automatic promotion, and even the scrap for survival has kept us on the edge of our seats recently, but the Play-Off push perhaps tops the lot.

Blackpool are the latest to throw their hat into the ring, hitting a run of form which has brought them within a point of the top seven, and they face struggling Hartlepool United this weekend.

Following three successive 2-2 draws, Gary Bowyer's men have since picked up 13 points from 15, with a 10-2 aggregate scoreline. With the three clubs above them stuttering, another three points at Bloomfield Road could potentially see them leap to fifth with the finishing line in sight.

Around the grounds

Third-placed Portsmouth hold a four-point lead over promotion-chasing Stevenage, and play host to a Newport County side battling for survival. The Exiles have picked up seven points from the last 12, bringing them within six points of Cheltenham Town, who visit Barnet this weekend.

Three points separate fourth and seventh, and the highest placed Play-Off sides, Stevenage and Luton Town, are both on their travels, taking on Cambridge United and Colchester United respectively. Carlisle United and Exeter City are both at home as they bid to climb the table, or at least fend off the chasing pack.

At the other end, Leyton Orient go to Crawley Town, who have alternated between a draw and a loss over their last six games – and it was a draw last time out versus Grimsby Town.

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

Sky Bet League Two: Matchday 39 fixtures (3pm kick-off)

Saturday 25th March 2017

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

Sunday 26th March 2017

Doncaster Rovers v Plymouth Argyle (2:45pm - live on Sky Sports)

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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