A huge weekend of League 2 football is looming with matches that could determine the fate of teams at either end of the table. Very few teams, if any, can say that they have nothing to play for and the pressure is most certainly on. The only midweek game in League 2 saw Plymouth get back to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Newport and Plymouth’s crucial clash with fellow promotion hopefuls Oxford is one of the four matches previewed here.
All of the games this weekend will be kicking off 7 minutes later than usual to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
Bristol Rovers v Torquay United
A poor run of results, which has yielded just one win in seven, has seen Bristol Rovers slip back into the relegation battle and they are now only four points clear of 23rd place Northampton Town. Despite these worries, the Gas gained a crucial away point against Wimbledon last weekend, thanks to a string of marvellous saves from goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall and they will be confident of victory considering their superb home form this season which has seen them pick up 36 of their overall points tally of 47.
Torquay sit bottom of the league with just 36 points to their name and are looking to avoid their fifth straight defeat this weekend. Two wins in March gave the Gulls hope of an unlikely escape but their form has deteriorated again of late and it is almost a given that they will be plying their trade in the Conference next season.
All the signs suggest that Bristol Rovers will record their 11th home win this weekend which could (depending on other results) relegate Torquay.
Score Prediction: 2-0 Bristol win
Fleetwood v Morecambe
On the face of it, this game doesn’t look like one of the stand-out games this weekend, but with Fleetwood trying to keep the heat on the top three and Morecambe facing one of the toughest run-ins in the Football League, this is set to be a very tasty fixture.
Fleetwood have only lost two of their last ten and are looking set for a Play-Off place at the very minimum. However, with the amount of money that Fleetwood have, there is pressure on Graham Alexander to secure automatic promotion and this makes this match crucial to keep pace with the teams above them. They won last weekend against Oxford and they haven’t lost since March.
Morecambe made a brilliant start to the season but have fallen away in recent months and now face the very real threat of relegation. They are 18th and have a relatively large points buffer between them and Northampton, of five, but they have one of the toughest run-ins in the league and could be struggling come the end of the season.
Score Prediction: 3-0 Fleetwood win
Newport v Wycombe
It wasn’t long ago that Newport County looked comfortable in the Play-Off positions, but a terrible 2014 and some good form from the teams in the relegation fight has left the Exiles as an outside bet for the drop. However, in a league with very little between the teams at the top and the teams at the bottom, a few good results could see Newport making a late push for the much-sought after 7th place. It is more than likely Newport will be in this league come next season but they are still one of the outsiders for the promotion battle and also the relegation battle.
Wycombe do not have the luxury of a mid-table position like their opponents this weekend and, along with plenty of other League 2 sides, are fighting tooth and nail to preserve their Football League status. An awful run over the winter months left them in real trouble and their recent form has only heightened their concerns. They did pick up a priceless three points last weekend though against Dagenham and, with 23rd placed Northampton still to visit Adams Park, a result in Wales will be very welcome indeed.
Newport have had a very up-and-down season but I think they will pick up three points this weekend and put any doubts about their league status to bed.
Score Prediction: 1-0 Newport win
Plymouth v Oxford
It’s been a strange few weeks for both of these two sides. Plymouth have faltered since they got into the top seven and suffered defeats to rivals Exeter and fellow high-flyers Burton before their midweek win against Newport. Despite only picking up one win in the last four matches, Plymouth will still be confident of reaching the top seven even if it means catching up with Southend and York who are both in very good form.
Despite being one place above Plymouth, it’s fair to say that Oxford are running out of steam in their bid for the Play-Offs (once again!) and a defeat this weekend could leave them four points off of seventh place. It has been very tough for new manager Gary Waddock since his arrival at the Kassam and he is yet to taste victory at his new club and it will take a monumental change in fortunes for the club if they are to make the Play-Offs.
Plymouth will be in high spirits after their crucial midweek win against Newport and could all but end Oxford’s top seven dreams with a win tomorrow.
Score Prediction: 3-1 Plymouth
Other matches and The72’s predictions:
Dagenham & Redbridge v Portsmouth – 1-1
Exeter v Cheltenham – 0-0
Hartlepool v Chesterfield – 0-2
Mansfield v Rochdale – 0-3
Northampton v Burton – 1-1
Scunthorpe v Bury – 2-0
Southend v Wimbledon – 1-0
York v Accrington – 3-0