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Match Previews

Preview: Matchday 31

9 February 2018

A healthy helping of EFL action lies in wait this weekend, with matches being played across three days. Here’s our Matchday 31 preview…

Derby double

Saturday begins with two local encounters as Barnsley host Sheffield Wednesday, and Leeds United, now under the stewardship of Paul Heckingbottom, travel to Sheffield United.

The Tykes and the Owls’ clash at Oakwell offers the chance for both sides to grab what would be a vital three points, given the two teams’ poor recent respective runs.

That’s much the same in the meeting at Bramall Lane, with the two Uniteds looking to get their Play-Off pushes back on track.

Birmingham battle

All eyes will be on Villa Park this Sunday, for the Second City derby between Aston Villa and Birmingham City.

In October’s reverse fixture, nothing could separate Steve Bruce and Steve Cotterill’s men, subsequently playing out a goalless draw.

This one has all the hallmarks of being a close affair, taking into account the good form displayed by both in recent times. Both managers were nominated for the Manager of the Month award, with Bruce claiming the honour for a perfect January with the Villans.

Around the grounds

Matchday 31 kicks off at the Den on Friday night, with Millwall welcoming Cardiff City, who blew away Leeds United 4-1 in their last Sky Bet Championship outing.

There could be a potential reunion for Cameron Jerome as his new club, Derby County, entertain Norwich City.

Things continue to remain tight at the foot of the table, with the bottom three all covered by just two points.

Could that change this weekend? The struggling trio are all on the road, as Hull City visit Nottingham Forest, Sunderland make the trip to Bristol City and Burton Albion head to Ipswich Town.

Sky Bet Championship: Matchday 31 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Friday 9th February 2018

Millwall v Cardiff City (7:45pm - live on Sky Sports)

Saturday 10th February 2018

Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday (12:15pm)
Sheffield United v Leeds United (12:30pm - live on Sky Sports)
Bolton Wanderers v Fulham
Brentford v Preston North End
Bristol City v Sunderland
Derby County v Norwich City
Ipswich Town v Burton Albion
Middlesbrough v Reading
Nottingham Forest v Hull City
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Queens Park Rangers

Sunday 11th February 2018

Aston Villa v Birmingham City (12:00pm - live on Sky Sports)

APPOINTMENTS: Match officials on weekend duty

Powell’s purple patch

After starting off life at Southend United with two wins, new Shrimpers boss Chris Powell now sees his team host the League One leaders, Wigan Athletic.

Powell’s side have picked up maximum points from his two games in charge, following impressive wins over Scunthorpe United and Rotherham United.

The Latics are sure to provide a stern test though and defeated their opponents in the reverse fixture back in October, with Michael Jacobs, Nick Powell and Ivan Toney scoring in a 3-0 victory at the DW Stadium.

Millers momentum

With three triumphs from three and no goals conceded in that time, Rotherham United are in the middle of a hot streak at present.

Paul Warne’s men sit fifth in the League One standings and travel to Glanford Park, where Scunthorpe United lie in wait.

The Iron got back to winning ways last weekend with an entertainment-filled encounter against Fleetwood Town, which eventually saw Graham Alexander’s men run out 3-2 victors.

Around the grounds

Second-placed Shrewsbury Town welcome Plymouth Argyle to Montgomery Waters Meadow. The Green Army got the better of high-flying Blackburn Rovers on Matchday 30.

Rovers themselves are in action this Saturday, when Oldham Athletic make the short journey to Ewood Park.

Bury, who are at the foot of the table, face a Bradford City outfit who saw manager Stuart McCall depart earlier on in the week.

Despite seeing their winning run ended by Wigan recently, Gillingham have the chance to climb again when they play host to Peterborough United, who are eighth at present.

Sky Bet League One: Matchday 31 fixtures (all 3pm kick-off)

Saturday 10th February 2018

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

APPOINTMENTS: Match officials on weekend duty

Sixth versus second

There’s a mouthwatering clash at St James Park, where Play-Off occupants Exeter City do battle with Wycombe Wanderers.

The Grecians were narrowly edged out 1-0 by league leaders Luton Town last weekend, and will be seeking a quick response to put the pressure on the top three once more.

Wycombe, on the other hand, are flying. The Chairboys completed a miraculous turnaround in their most recent fixture — a 4-3 triumph over Carlisle United — and Gareth Ainsworth claimed the January Manager of the Month award.

A Play-Off meeting

Just two points are all that separate Swindon Town and Mansfield Town in the table, and they clash at the County Ground.

David Flitcroft’s Robins missed the chance to go above the Stags on Tuesday night when Accrington Stanley defeated them 2-1 — they’ll have another opportunity on this occasion though.

Swindon emerged triumphant when these two met in October, in a 3-1 win at the One Call Stadium.

Around the grounds

The League Two action commences with a Friday night fixture at the Cambs Glass Stadium, where Cambridge United and Lincoln City will go head-to-head.

Grimsby Town have the task of facing a Crawley Town side that have really come into some form of late — winning six out of their last seven matches.

At the summit, Luton Town travel to Stevenage, while third-placed Accrington Stanley have an away encounter against Coventry City.

Notts County were leapfrogged into the top three by Stanley, courtesy of John Coleman’s men getting the better of Swindon during the week. The Magpies could rise again though, if they get a positive result at Barnet.

Read more: Sean McConville previews Accrington Stanley's fixture

Sky Bet League Two: Matchday 31 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Friday 9th February 2018

Cambridge United v Lincoln City (7:45pm)

Saturday 10th February 2018

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

APPOINTMENTS: Match officials on weekend duty

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