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Match Previews

Preview: Matchday 28

19 January 2018

A full EFL weekend schedule is on the horizon, with two Friday night fixtures kicking things off. Here's the previ

Robins visit the Rams

Bristol City’s last success at Pride Park came in 2011 but their Friday night encounter provides them with a chance to earn their first Sky Bet Championship points since Boxing Day.

There have been no such problems for Derby County however, who haven’t tasted defeat in the league since Ipswich Town came away with a 1-0 win at the end of November.

With the Midlands club currently sitting in second, Gary Rowett has used the January transfer window to secure the services of Cameron Jerome. The ex-Norwich striker has not played since the middle of December but could line up against the Robins following his move earlier this week.

Relegated duo do battle

Saturday sees the scrap at the bottom of the table continue for Sunderland as they target moving out of the relegation zone by defeating Hull City at the Stadium of Light, both of which were playing Premier League football last term.

Chris Coleman guided the Black Cats to their first home league win in almost a year last month, and another this weekend would see them move level on points with the 20th-placed Tigers.

Since winning his first match in charge against Brentford, Nigel Adkins has since endured six matches without success as the Humberside club, who haven’t beaten Sunderland since 2014, slide closer to the relegation zone.

Around the grounds

Aitor Karanka will be looking to make amends for his first match in charge of Nottingham Forest, which ended in defeat to Aston Villa, when his side travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday. Table-topping Wolves’ last defeat came way back in October.

A win for Leeds United, who host Millwall, could see them return to the play-off places, but Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham will be hot on their heels when they take on Burton Albion. Sheffield United, who currently reside in sixth place, travel to Norwich City.

Depending on the result of Friday night’s fixture, a win for Cardiff City in their late trip to Hillsborough on Saturday could see them move back into the automatic promotion spots.

Sky Bet Championship: Matchday 28 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Friday 19th January 2018

Derby County v Bristol City (7:45pm — live on Sky Sports)

Saturday 20th January 2018

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

Top-six chasers face off

Rotherham United currently trail Portsmouth by one point as both clubs hope to move into the play-off places at the weekend.

It’s seventh against eighth at the AESSEAL New York Stadium on Saturday, with the hosts defending a seven-match unbeaten run, although they have yet to win in the new year.

Portsmouth have also failed to secure victory in 2018, but an away win in Yorkshire could see them move above Charlton Athletic, and four points clear of the Millers, into sixth.

Cobblers on the up?

Northampton Town will be looking to build on back-to-back wins in order to move out of the relegation zone when they host Milton Keynes Dons, who are just one point ahead of them, on Saturday.

A Sixfields win over Southend United was followed by victory away to Bradford City last weekend, meaning Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s men are now only in the relegation zone on goal difference.

Defeat for Robbie Neilson’s side would see them slip below Northampton and potentially into the bottom four, with only one point and two league positions currently separating the two sides.

Around the grounds

Saturday’s Sky Bet League One action gets under way with a Lancashire derby, which sees Blackburn Rovers travel to Fleetwood Town. A win for Tony Mowbray’s men could see them move into second.

Following Chris Lucketti’s departure on Monday, Ryan Lowe and Ryan Kidd will take charge of Bury’s trip to Oxford United. The Shakers haven’t scored a league goal since November.

Scunthorpe United host Gillingham with both sides boasting a run of six matches without defeat. Doncaster Rovers, who are also unbeaten in six, travel to high-flying Shrewsbury Town, while league leaders Wigan Athletic make the arduous journey to Plymouth Argyle following their FA Cup triumph over Premier League outfit, Bournemouth.

Sky Bet League One: Matchday 28 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Saturday 20th January 2018

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

Exiles on the run

Despite sitting in 10th position, Newport County are just three points from fifth and victory over Crawley Town on Friday would see their ascent of the Sky Bet League Two table continue.

Consecutive wins over Exeter City and Grimsby Town saw the Welsh outfit end a run that saw them gain just two points from three matches, ensuring they keep themselves in the race for a play-off place.

But Michael Flynn’s side come up against a Crawley side that have won three matches in a row, and Harry Kewell’s men have the possibility of moving into the top half of the table if they defeat their hosts.

Baptism of fire for Westley

Graham Westley’s first assignment in charge of Barnet is hosting promotion-chasing Lincoln City as the Bees look to put a run of five successive league defeats to bed.

The former Stevenage and Peterborough boss has been tasked with turning Barnet’s season around, with the club at the basement of Sky Bet League Two, four points from safety.

Meanwhile Lincoln, who earned promotion to the fourth tier last season, are in the hunt for a tightly-contested play-off place as they sit level on points with Mansfield Town, Coventry City and Swindon Town, albeit with a superior goal difference. Three points on Saturday has the potential to move the Imps as high as third.

Around the grounds

Following three consecutive victories, both Accrington Stanley and Swindon Town are in a rich vein of form. The Lancashire club will be looking to further affirm their place in the automatic promotion places against Port Vale, while David Flitcroft’s men go up against Coventry City, who are on the cusp of the top seven.

Colchester United host Grimsby Town with both club looking to turn their form around, having failed to win in four and seven matches respectively.

Meanwhile Cambridge are still on the hunt for their first league goal of 2018, and come up against struggling Forest Green Rovers following back-to-back goalless draws.

Sky Bet League Two: Matchday 28 fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Friday 19th January 2018

Newport County v Crawley Town (7:45pm)

Saturday 20th January 2018

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

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