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Match Previews

Preview: Matchday 45

27 April 2018

Time to take a look at the key battles in Matchday 45, the penultimate weekend of the 2017/18 season. Here's the preview...

Burton-Bolton battle

Burton Albion host Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon, knowing that defeat at the Pirelli Stadium will bring an end to their stay in the Championship.

Click here for the weekend permutations

Victory, however, and they will leapfrog their opponents and potentially climb out of the bottom three. The Brewers have never won three in a row in English football's second tier, but they have got the better of Bolton in two previous meetings – both by one goal to nil.

Nigel Clough's side had been without a home win for six months before beating Derby County here last time out. A second in succession could be priceless.

Play-Off push continues

Saturday evening's late kick-off pits Middlesbrough against Millwall at the Riverside, with both teams eyeing up a play-off place. Should the hosts win, their place will be confirmed.

Millwall's loss at home to Fulham has hampered their hopes, but a return to form in front of the Sky Sports cameras could see them right back in the hunt.

With this following the 3pm kick-offs, the Lions will know exactly what's at stake come 5:30pm. Defeat for Derby County at Aston Villa, and three points for Neil Harris' side will put destiny back in their own hands.

Around the grounds

Fulham host relegated Sunderland on Friday night, looking to pile the pressure on second-place Cardiff City, who travel to Hull City on Saturday afternoon.

Sheffield United and Preston North End face off at Bramall Lane – whoever comes out on top will remain in the hunt for a top-six spot, and the loser will miss out. A draw will do no one any favours.

Barnsley need a result on a day which could see them relegated, but they face a tricky test at Oakwell in the shape of Brentford, who remain firmly in the race for the Play-Offs.

Sky Bet Championship: Matchday 45 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Friday 27th April

Fulham v Sunderland (7:45pm – live on Sky Sports)

Saturday 28th April

Aston Villa v Derby County
Barnsley v Brentford
Burton Albion v Bolton Wanderers
Hull City v Cardiff City
Middlesbrough v Millwall (5:30pm – live on Sky Sports)
Norwich City v Leeds United
Nottingham Forest v Bristol City
Queens Park Rangers v Birmingham City
Reading v Ipswich Town
Sheffield United v Preston North End
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sheffield Wednesday

APPOINTMENTS: Click here for the match officials on duty

Relegation dogfight

The battle to beat the drop at the bottom of League One is intense, and the standout fixture this weekend is Northampton Town's trip to Walsall.

A run of six defeats in their last eight has seen the Saddlers slide back into trouble. Northampton, who looked down and out after a 10-game winless run, have boosted their chances with back-to-back wins under caretaker boss Dean Austin.

A third would move the Cobblers above Walsall to set up a thrilling final day – but defeat at Banks's Stadium combined with other results could send them down to League Two.

Looking up

Blackburn Rovers sealed promotion in midweek, and this weekend sees them travel to a side who are hoping to join them in the Championship next season.

Charlton Athletic have thrived under the stewardship of Lee Bowyer and back-to-back wins have moved the Addicks to fifth, well poised for a place in the Play-Offs.

This match-up is one that both will be desperate to win. If Rovers fall short, then their quest for the title could well be over. As for Charlton, a trio of clubs are giving chase, ready to pounce on any opportunity.

Around the grounds

Wigan Athletic host AFC Wimbledon knowing three points could potentially bring them the title, while the Dons still need points to guarantee League One football for another season.

Click here for the weekend permutations

Milton Keynes need three points for any chance of prolonging their stay in the division, hosting Scunthorpe United who occupy the final spot in the top six.

Plymouth Argyle are one of the sides looking to muscle their way in to the Play-Offs – they entertain Rotherham United, who are already there, while Portsmouth travel to relegated Bury.

Oldham Athletic host Doncaster Rovers and Rochdale visit Oxford United, with both Greater Manchester clubs looking for positive results to boost their survival hopes.

Sky Bet League One: Matchday 45 fixtures (3pm kick-off)

Saturday 28th April

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

APPOINTMENTS: Click here for the match officials on duty

All or nothing

Barnet visit Morecambe this weekend with three points an absolute must to avoid a return to the National League.

Click here for the weekend permutations

Martin Allen has pulled the Bees back into contention with three wins in the last five, and another success at the club five points clear, in 21st, will take matters to the final day – when they take on relegated Chesterfield at the Hive.

On their last visit to the Globe Arena, they registered a 1-0 win on Valentine's Day. Oh, how they would love a repeat...

Automatic high

Chesterfield will not be playing League Two football next term after their relegation was confirmed in midweek, and their opponents this weekend intend on that being the case too.

Wycombe Wanderers currently occupy the final automatic promotion spot, and a win over the Spireites would edge them closer to League One. In fact, the feat could be achieved dependent on other results this weekend.

The Spireites will want to bow out with pride in their final home fixture of the season, but the Chairboys are 10 unbeaten on the road and boast the best away record in the division.

Around the grounds

Accrington Stanley host Lincoln City where a point would clinch the hosts the League Two crown. For the Imps, a point would mathematically guarantee a place in the Play-Offs.

Exeter City travel to Stevenage looking to keep the pressure on Wycombe in the race for automatic promotion, while Notts County visit Grimsby Town. The Magpies remain in the running for a top-three place, but their hosts know victory would ensure their EFL status.

In the race for the final play-off spot, Mansfield Town – three points behind Coventry City – go to Yeovil Town. The Sky Blues go to Whaddon Road to take on Cheltenham Town.

Sky Bet League Two: Matchday 45 fixtures (3pm kick-off)

Saturday 28th April

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

APPOINTMENTS: Click here for the match officials on duty

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