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Match Previews

Preview: Matchday 37

9 March 2018

It looks like we're free from snow this weekend, so it's back to a full EFL schedule. Here's the preview...

Midlands match-up at Villa Park

It’s a big one. Two of the Championship’s top three sides go head-to-head, as Aston Villa battle it out with leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Both have their eyes on automatic promotion and, dependent on other results before them on Saturday afternoon, three points could prove even more crucial come kick-off.

This will be the 125th meeting between the pair, and Wolves have enjoyed the fixture more in recent times – the Villans' last home success against their foes came in December 2003.

East Midlands Sunday showdown

The City Ground is the setting for the latest clash between Nottingham Forest and rivals Derby County.

A poor recent run of form has seen the visiting Rams slide away from a tilt at the top two, but a win over Aitor Karanka’s men could see them get back in the running once more.

For Forest, there have been flashes of brilliance, highlighted none more so than by a 5-2 demolition of Queens Park Rangers. They’re 14th though, that very number of points off the Play-Offs and the same distance from the bottom three.

Around the grounds

At the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough could make it four wins out of five if they get past a lowly Barnsley team.

Garry Monk has another tough task as he looks to get off the mark as Birmingham City manager. The Blues are on the road, with a trip to second-placed Cardiff on the agenda.

Sheffield United have twice beaten Ipswich Town 1-0 this season, in league and FA Cup victories respectively — can they make it a hat-trick this weekend?

There’s an intriguing fixture at Deepdale, where Play-Off hopefuls Preston North End meet current occupants Fulham, who have lost just one of their last 15 Championship outings.

Sky Bet Championship: Fixtures (3pm kick-off unless stated)

Saturday 10th March

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

Sunday 11th March

Nottingham Forest v Derby County (2:30pm - live on Sky Sports)

Bowyer and Blackburn

Blackpool boss Gary Bowyer returns to Ewood Park this Saturday, when he faces off against former club, Blackburn Rovers.

He spent time at Rovers in both a caretaker and full-time managerial position between 2012 and 2015, before departing.

It would be quite the result if the Seasiders were able to defeat the table-toppers, but recent triumphs over Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth should give them confidence heading into proceedings.

Iron to stop stutter?

Speaking of the Latics, that’s where we’re heading next, to take a look at things prior to Wigan's home fixture with Scunthorpe United.

Neither are in their best shape; however, Paul Cook’s side have amassed more points of late, with the Iron taking just three points from a possible 15.

And, with the sides below them having games in hand, Scunthorpe will be looking nervously over their shoulder at the Play-Off chasing pack should their stuttering form continue.

Around the grounds

With a Wembley spot booked, thanks to Checkatrade Trophy progression against Yeovil Town on Tuesday, Shrewsbury Town’s full focus will be on getting three points in their meeting with Walsall at Montgomery Waters Meadow.

When you’re looking for a win, one of the last teams you’d want to run into at present are Plymouth Argyle, who have picked up six victories in a row. That’s the task for Fleetwood Town who, in contrast, haven’t tasted glory since the middle of January.

Rochdale grabbed three points themselves during the week, but a lot of work is still to be done in order to climb out of the relegation zone. Keith Hill’s men would take huge belief if they were to defeat Rotherham United though, given the marvellous form which the Millers are in.

Two clubs aiming for the top six face off at the ABAX Stadium, where Peterborough United in eighth, welcome seventh-placed Charlton Athletic.

Sky Bet League One: Fixtures (all 3pm kick-off)

Saturday 10th March

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

Summit meeting

The race for the League Two crown comes to a head when the division’s top two, Luton Town and Accrington Stanley, clash at Kenilworth Road.

Despite opening up a significant gap earlier on in the campaign, the Hatters have been pegged back, and now only lead the way by a sole point.

An Accrington win and we’ll have new leaders come 5pm on Saturday afternoon, but they know first-hand how tough a test it will be after suffering a 2-0 reverse on home soil back in October.

Taylor’s Town

After the Beast from the East swept across the country last weekend, one of the fixtures to be beaten by the weather was Swindon Town’s home encounter against Yeovil Town.

That meant that Matt Taylor would have to wait for his first game in interim charge of the club, after David Flitcroft departed for fellow promotion hopefuls Mansfield Town.

Cheltenham Town visit the County Ground this weekend, giving Taylor another opportunity to begin his reign in front of the home Robins faithful – he'll be hoping Marc Richards can extend his scoring form after the veteran striker was named February's Player of the Month.

Around the grounds

With just one goal conceded and four successive wins picked up in that time, Carlisle United are hitting somewhat of a hot streak at present. That run will be put to the test on Saturday however, with a long trip south to Exeter City.

After being officially unveiled as Grimsby Town manager last week, Michael Jolley will want to get off the mark at the first time of asking. They have a visit of Port Vale to deal with in order to do that.

Notts County climbed back into the top three courtesy of a point at Cheltenham on Tuesday, and they’re on the road once more this weekend, taking on a Forest Green Rovers side who have won five successive home games.

Including the aforementioned Carlisle, one of three sides could rise into the Play-Off positions. The Cumbrians are joined on 54 points by Coventry City and Lincoln City, who have fixtures against relegation-threatened Barnet and Chesterfield respectively.

Sky Bet League Two: Fixtures (all 3pm kick-off)

Saturday 10th March

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


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