League one football is back this weekend with some fascinating encounters at both ends of the table. In match day 20 last weekend 35 goals were scored with over 93,000 fans watching their teams.
Notts County vs Bristol City
Shaun Derry has had a remarkable effect on Notts County since taking over as manager, still in the bottom four but there is an air of optimism around Meadow Lane. Results didn’t come early on but they were performing a lot better and only suffered narrow defeats to the likes of Brentford and Wolves. However, since then they have managed back-to-back wins in the league netting seven goals in the process. County have no new injury worries and striker Danny Haynes could return to the side after suffering with tonsillitis. It is looking bleaker by the week for City who head into this ‘six pointer’ winless in their last five league outings and staring down the barrel of consecutive relegations. Bristol have only managed two wins from their 20 games even with the likes of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas who has netted ten of their 27 league goals this campaign. Steve Cotterill has no injury concerns as he faces his former club in arguably their biggest game of the season.
Confidence will be higher than ever in the home dressing room and I think Derry’s men will win this on Saturday.
Prediction: Notts County 2-0 Bristol City
Peterborough United vs Bradford City
Peterborough did end their run of five consecutive league defeats with a win against Wolves but I’m not convinced they are back to their best. It took a 97th minute equaliser from Britt Assombalonga to rescue them a point against Gillingham and have only managed six goals in their last eight league games. Ferguson has more options available to him this weekend as Danny Swanson is available after suspension and Gabriel Zakuani could return following his Achilles injury. The Bantams head into this clash unbeaten in their last six league games, however this can be read in several ways as they have only won once in that time. On average the Posh have conceded a goal a game this season which will inspire the league’s top scorer Nahki Wells who will be looking to add to his impressive tally of 14 so far. Bradford are currently assessing striker James Hanson who is a real doubt for the game with a calf injury, this would be a blow to the bantams as his partnership with Wells has really blossomed this season.
A game where all three results are possible, I am going for a draw as Bradford have recorded three consecutive score draws.
Prediction: Peterborough United 1-1 Bradford City
Preston North End vs Brentford
Arguably the best game of the division this weekend, two evenly matched sides that are both unbeaten in their last nine league games. The Lilywhites welcome back their top scorer in Joe Garner who is available after his three game ban for violent conduct. Preston threw away a two goal cushion last time out against Crawley and will be keen to return to winning ways in front of Deepdale on Saturday. This will be a really tough test for Grayson’s men as Brentford could move on to level points with Wolves if they suffer at the hands of Rotherham at the weekend. Mark Warburton secured his first win as Bees boss last weekend with a last-gasp winner from Jonathan Douglas and will be looking to build on the stunning form which has seen Brentford win eight of their last nine league matches. The Bees winger Martin Fillo is struggling through illness and the club will run a late fitness check on Sam Saunders to see if he will make Saturday’s clash.
Similarly to the Peterborough game this could easily end in all three outcomes but I have a feeling Brentford may edge it on the day.
Prediction: Preston North End 1-2 Brentford
Rotherham United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
I think at the start of the season you would have struggled to convince any Rotherham fan that heading in to their clash with Wolves that they could consider themselves favourites. The Millers are unbeaten in their last six league games, winning four of these and have picked up maximum points from their last three outings. Nouha Dicko has arrived on loan from Wigan and has had an immediate impact netting three goals in his last four league games. A name familiar to Wolves fans who saw glimpses of him last season under Dean Saunders. He was used continuously off the bench at Wolves and was pretty ineffectual however ex-Wolves players often come back to haunt the old gold. Orient have drew their last three league games so Wolves’ back-to-back defeats haven’t cost them too dearly but they will need to get back to winning ways soon as Brentford are looking serious contenders. Wolves face Leyton Orient on the 29th and will need to get something from tomorrow’s match as Orient could well have opened up a clear gap between themselves and the chasing pack.
A very tough game to call but considering the form of the hosts I am going for a home win.
Prediction: Rotherham United 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Tranmere Rovers 1-1 Gillingham (Tonight 7:45)
Crewe Alexandra 0-0 Shrewsbury Town
Leyton Orient 2-0 Crawley Town
Milton Keynes Dons 2-1 Port Vale
Oldham Athletic 1-0 Colchester United
Stevenage 1-1 Sheffield United
Swindon Town 2-2 Coventry City
Walsall 2-1 Carlisle United