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  1. As we go into the Easter weekend I will attempt to preview and predict the outcome of games that will prove crucial at both ends of the table... here goes! THURSDAY BLACKBURN ROVERS v BRADFORD CITY Rovers must be straining at the leash having not played since March 10th for one reason or another but they could either be well rested and ready to go or ring rusty through lack of game time. I suspect the former and go into this game against the Bantams as hot favourites. City gained their first win under Grayson's management last weekend but in truth they were lucky to beat the Gills and didn't impress. Rovers all the way here. Prediction: Home win GILLINGHAM v MILTON KEYNES Steve Lovell's Gills are a good side and are a match for any League 1 team on their day. Eaves and Parker are a good combination up front and should prove too much for an MK team fighting for their lives. Prediction: Home win GOOD FRIDAY OXFORD UNITED v SCUNTHORPE UNITED Karl Robinson's new charges go into this clash with managerless Scunny hoping to build on their fine win over Posh in their last home game. The new manager will be keen to address the inconsistancies that have blighted their season. The U's are still too near the bottom of the table for comfort but their home form should keepthem up. The Iron, who fired boss Graham Alexander in midweek look like a side in crisis, still occupying a playoff place but in woeful form. With teams like Posh, Pompey and Argyle breathing down their necks, they will be desperate to appoint a new manager sooner rather than later to address their worrying slide. Prediction: Score draw WIGAN ATHLETIC v OLDHAM ATHLETIC The battle of the Latics. In my humble opinion Wigan are the best team in the division and should easily despatch relegation haunted Oldham. Richie Wellens side will fight hard but Paul Cook's promotion contenders will have too much for them. Prediction: Home win AFC WIMBLEDON v FLEETWOOD TOWN John Sheridan's Cod Army are on form right now, unbeaten in five games and making a good fight of getting themselves away from the drop zone. They come up against a Dons side who are only two points clear of the drop zone and in poor form. Dons are fighters though but may have to settle for a draw in this one. Prediction: No score draw BLACKPOOL v DONCASTER ROVERS A repeat of the 3-3 draw earlier in the season should send the punters home happy in this mid table clash but I think Donny will win out in this one due to their better recent form. Prediction: Away win BRISTOL ROVERS v BURY The Gas are in good form right now and will be keen to grab a top half finish even if a late play off push is beyond them. Ryan Lowe's Shakers just seem to be waiting for their inevitable relegation is confirmed. Prediction: Home win NORTHAMPTON TOWN v CHARLTON ATHLETIC Things are looking bleak for Jimmy Floyd's Cobblers side having played more games than their relegation threatened rivals and experiencing a slump in form just at the wrong time. Lee Bowyer's caretaker reign started well as they surprisingly beat Plymouth last weekend and Addicks fans will hope that the result might have reignited their play off bid so there's a lot at stake for both teams. Prediction: Score draw PLYMOUTH ARGYLE v SOUTHEND UNITED Argyle's surge towards the play offs stalled last weekend at the Valley so Adams' men will be keen to get back on track against Chris Powell's mid table Shrimpers who have very little to play for. Prediction: Home win ROCHDALE v SHREWSBURY TOWN Keith Hill's team's plight is becoming increasingly desperate. Despite their games in hand the team's form is poor and Dale won't be relishing a visit from Paul Hurst's promotion chasing Shrews who are very consistent, losing only six league games all season. Prediction: Away win ROTHERHAM UNITED v PETERBOROUGH UNITED A run of only one win and three points from their last four games is a worry for Millers fans and they will have to be at their best to gain a result over play off rivals Posh, managed by former Millers manager the fat controller. Posh have quality all over the field and boast the divisions top scorer in Jack Marriott but the Millers are formidable opponents at home and I can envisage a really good game with goals aplenty. Prediction: Score draw SATURDAY WALSALL v PORTSMOUTH Dean Keates' Walsall side are in dreadful form and are not safe from relegation and the new manager will be desperate to take the points in this game. Virtually every season a club comes from nowhere with a late run to gain a play off berth and I think this season that club may be Kenny Jackett's Pompey who are in form and in Brett Pitman boast a striker with higher league experience and in a rich vein of form. Prediction: Away win Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  2. The end of the season is fast approaching with nine or ten games to go for most clubs. Every game from now on is classed as vital and I'll attempt to make sense of it all. SATURDAY BRADFORD CITY v GILLINGHAM Bantams fans are not happy bunnies right now as the appointment of Simon Grayson to replace Stuart McCall hasn't had the desired effect in stopping their alarming slide down the table. The long time play off candidates will be lucky to finish in the division's top half come May. The appointment of Steve Lovell to the Gills hot seat however has had the opposite effect, turning the Gills around from candidates for the drop to comfortable mid table looking upwards though I think a late play off push is beyond them. Prediction: Score draw BURY v WIGAN ATHLETIC Sorry Shakers fans, your team are doomed to L2 football next season I'm afraid. I genuinely hope they keep with Ryan Lowe as manager though as he has instilled some fight and determination into his team. Paul Cook's Latics should win this at a canter judging by recent form and their comfortable 3-0 win at Walsall in midweek. Prediction: Away win CHARLTON ATHLETIC v PLYMOUTH ARGYLE What on earth is going on at the Valley? Ownership up in the air, no Chairman, no Chief Executive and now no manager after Karl Robinson has jumped ship to take over at Oxford. The situation is looking very Blackpoolesque. Bleak days indeed. Meanwhile Argyle carry on their merry way picking up the points and three more here should be achievable. Prediction: Away win FLEETWOOD TOWN v NORTHAMPTON TOWN A six pointer if ever there was one! Sheridan's Cod Army gained a fantastic 2-0 win at rivals Rochdale in midweek and should be well up for this clash with JFH's misfiring Cobblers team who are in poor form despite taking an unexpected point from their midweek game with Shrewsbury. Prediction: Home win MILTON KEYNES v BLACKPOOL MK have shown some signs of life recently in their battle to beat the drop but they will find Gary Bowyer's Pool a tough nut to crack. Prediction: Score draw PETERBOROUGH UNITED v BRISTOL ROVERS The fat controller's Posh side's charge towards the play offs was surprisingly halted by Oxford last time out and Clarke's Gas team won't make it easy either but I tip Posh to get back on track in this one. Prediction: Home win SCUNTHORPE UNITED v ROCHDALE Dale's four match unbeaten run was ended by relegation rivals Fleetwood in midweek and Keith Hill's men will need a miraculously good run of form to stay up despite their games in hand. Fortunately they face a Scunny side that are on an even worse run of form and can't seem to buy a win at the moment. The Iron are a talented side however and I think they'll put another nail in Dale's coffin this weekend. Prediction: Home win SHREWSBURY TOWN v AFC WIMBLEDON Consistant Shrews will be making every effort to stay with Wigan and Blackburn in the three horse race for the two automatic promotion places. Their home record however is not the best and the relegation threatened Dons will be tough opposition. Prediction: Goalless draw SOUTHEND UNITED v ROTHERHAM UNITED Chris Powell has stabilised Southend since replacing Phil Brown in mid season and his side look destined for a mid table finish. The Millers ended their two game mini wobble of surprising defeats by comfortably despatching Northampton 3-0 last weekend. I cannot see Rotherham slipping in this game. Prediction: Away win SUNDAY PORTSMOUTH v OXFORD UNITED Karl Robinson takes charge of his U's team for the first time in this televised clash with play off chasing outsiders Pompey. Oxford's win over Posh in their last game was a shock but Jackett's Pompey side should prove too strong for them at Fratton Park. Prediction: Home win Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  3. The games are coming thick and fast now as we approach the conclusion of the season with most League One clubs still having much to play for. I will attempt to assess this weekend’s games. BLACKPOOL v SOUTHEND UNITED Gary Bowyer's Pool gained their first home League win of the year with a last minute winner in the midweek win over Charlton and should go into this game full of confidence. Mid-table Southend have done well under Chris Powell and should provide stiff opposition. Prediction: Score draw CHARLTON ATHLETIC v FLEETWOOD TOWN The Addicks seem to have let the off field uncertainty over the clubs ownership affect their on field form, Robinson's talented squad have been really poor of late. The struggling Cod Army don't seem to have had the boost that sometimes happens when a new manager takes over and Sheridan's troops continue to fight for their League One lives. Prediction: Home win GILLINGHAM v BLACKBURN ROVERS Leaders Blackburn have opened up a five point lead over automatic promotion rivals Wigan and Shrewsbury. Mowbray's men will be looking to cement their position at the summit with another three points at playoff outsiders Gills who are in good form themselves and Lovell's Gills team will provide a stern test. Prediction: Score draw MILTON KEYNES v BURY MK produced their best performance of the season to deservedly beat Rotherham in midweek and will go into this clash with seemingly doomed Bury full of confidence. This is a must win game for Micchiche's men if they are to mount a serious attempt to stay up. Prediction: Home win NORTHAMPTON TOWN v ROTHERHAM UNITED Jimmy Floyds men come into this clash with playoff chasing Millers with their heads just above water, one point above Fleetwood who are in the last relegation place. They will be encouraged however in the Millers recent form which has seen them lose to two off the Cobblers relegation rivals Rochdale and MK after a superb 17 match unbeaten run. The Millers to halt their recent slump in this one. Prediction: Away win OLDHAM ATHLETIC v PORTSMOUTH Wellens has got his Latics side battling again after a worrying slump and I think they'll have too much for mid table Pompey who seem to be looking for the end of the season. Prediction: Home win PLYMOUTH ARGYLE v BRISTOL ROVERS Argyle were squeezed out of the last playoff place by Posh in midweek and will be desperate to continue their push against Clarke's talented Gas side who will definitely give them a game. Prediction: Home win OXFORD UNITED v PETERBOROUGH UNITED Oxford might find themselves in League Two if their alarming and worrying slump continues, and the fat controller's playoff-chasing Posh will be in no mood to do them any favours this weekend. Prediction: Away win ROCHDALE v AFC WIMBLEDON An intriguing matchup between two sides battling the drop but who have been improving and picking up points lately. I have often said that Dale are a far better side than their League position suggests and perhaps their superb FA Cup run has hampered them. The Dons have battled hard of late and their form is good but I think it'll be Keith Hill that will be celebrating at 5pm on Saturday. Prediction: Home win SCUNTHORPE UNITED v SHREWSBURY TOWN The Iron produced one of the performances of last weekend when they managed to take a point at Wigan, reigniting their stuttering playoff bid in the process. Paul Hurst's Shrews have just got on with their business, consistently churning out results and performances and I can't see that changing on Saturday. Prediction: Away win MONDAY DONCASTER ROVERS v BRADFORD CITY Mid table Yorkshire derby which doesn't seem so exciting for the Sky TV Cameras. Rovers are consistant at home whereas the Bantams playoff push has failed. Prediction: Home win Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  4. With most sides having an enforced weekend off last week due to the weather and the season approaching the conclusion, I will try and build on last weekend’s success (got Gas and Oldham wins right) with this week’s predictions.....here goes!! AFC WIMBLEDON vs. OXFORD UNITED The (real) Dons are still embroiled in the dogfight to avoid relegation and three points in this match with stuttering Oxford is a must. Both sides are in poor form but Wimbledon's need is greater and they'll edge this one. Prediction: Home win BLACKBURN ROVERS vs. BLACKPOOL Lancashire derby at Ewood. Rovers are heading back to the Championship. Pool are in decent nick themselves but I can't see them repeating their success at Wigan recently. Prediction: Home win BRADFORD CITY vs. MILTON KEYNES Simon Grayson is still waiting for his first win as Bantams boss. He'll never get a better chance than a home game against woeful MK. Prediction: Home win BRISTOL ROVERS vs. NORTHAMPTON TOWN Jimmy Floyd's lads although in decent nick can't seem to completely pull away from the bottom four but his team are battling hard. The Gas are on very good form of late with some impressive recent results but I think the Cobblers will prove tough opposition and gain a much needed point. Prediction: No score draw BURY vs. OLDHAM ATHLETIC Another Lancashire derby. Ryan Lowe seems to have galvanised his Shakers side and they have been showing some much needed fight lately although I fear it may have come too late. Oldham gained a fantastic and much needed win at Scunny last time out and the goalscoring return of Eoin Doyle makes me think they'll be celebrating their second straight away win on Saturday. Prediction: Away win FLEETWOOD TOWN vs. PLYMOUTH ARGYLE John Sheridan will have to pull off a minor miracle if he's to keep his woefully out of touch Cod Army out of L2. Adam's Argyle are in terrific form and look set to make a late bid for the play offs. Away banker. Prediction: Away win PETERBOROUGH UNITED vs. CHARLTON ATHLETIC The fat controller (Steve Evans) finally takes charge of his first Posh game against underperforming Charlton. Both teams are capable of brilliance and tosh in equal measure. It's the drawn games that are keeping Posh out of the play off places and I think they'll get another one here. A side note is that both Evans and Charlton boss Robinson hate each other and almost came to blows on more than one occasion in Rotherham vs. MK games so it might be an idea to keep an eye on the dugouts. Prediction: Score draw PORTSMOUTH vs. GILLINGHAM Both Pompey and the Gills have gone off the ball recently after good spells but both are decent teams and should provide a good entertaining game. Prediction: Score draw ROTHERHAM UNITED vs. ROCHDALE Paul Warne takes his all conquering Millers team into this clash with Keith Hill's rock bottom Dale full of confidence searching for their EIGHTH successive win. Home banker? I'm not so sure. Dale have performed admirably in the FA Cup perhaps at the detriment of their league form and in midweek they had the boost of a convincing and morale boosting 3-0 win at Walsall. A Millers win for me but closer than most people imagine. Side note Dale were the first opposing team to win at NYS with a 3-2 success in September 2012. Prediction: Home win SHREWSBURY TOWN vs. WALSALL After securing a place at Wembley in the Cup that no-one gives a t**s about, Hurst's troops will be keen to improve their patchy home record and boost their automatic promotion hopes against mid table Walsall who judging by their midweek surrender to Rochdale are already thinking about the beach at the end of the season. Prediction: Home win SOUTHEND UNITED vs. DONCASTER ROVERS Chris Powell hasn't been at Roots Hall long but in his short tenure he has improved the team immensely both in results and style. They should have too much for dogged but uninspiring Rovers. Prediction: Home win WIGAN ATHLETIC vs. SCUNTHORPE UNITED Simple, League 1 Champions vs. play off also rans. Wigan are flying and Scunny look to be bottling it after looking play off certainties for the first 2/3rds of the season. Prediction: Home win Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  5. In League One this Saturday, the game of the day comes at Greenhouse Meadow, where 1st placed Shrewsbury Town take on 4th placed Rotherham United. There is also a big game at the Keepmoat as Doncaster take on Fleetwood with both managers looking to start a run of results that will help them keep their jobs a little longer. AFC Wimbledon vs Bristol Rovers Wimbledon have slipped back into the bottom four after a run of four successive defeats and Neal Ardley has said that all the hard work he has put in would be undone if they are relegated. On the other hand, Bristol Rovers have lost only one of their last nine, winning four of their last five as they have recovered after losing Billy Bodin to Preston. The Pirates have pulled away from the relegation zone and have inched up into mid-table. Prediction: AFC Wimbledon 0-0 Bristol Rovers Doncaster Rovers vs Fleetwood Town A crucial game for both managers. Doncaster are winless in eight and they have dropped from 10th to 16th. Donny have drawn six of these eight games and still haven’t won in 2018. I had Fleetwood to finish 2nd in my pre-season predictions for League One. How badly wrong have I been? They have lost their last four games. They have only won three of their last sixteen games. For a team that looked like play-off contenders at the start of the season, The Cod Army are slipping dangerously close to the bottom four. Prediction: Doncaster Rovers 2-1 Fleetwood Town Gillingham vs Walsall Steve Lovell has done a brilliant job at the Gills. Before the season, I had them nailed down as relegation certainties and I was being proved right until the former Bournemouth striker took the reigns at Priestfield. They have lost only one of their last eleven games and they sit comfortably in mid-table. Walsall’s form has picked up this month with two wins and a draw, a run of results which has seen them move clear of the relegation zone and up into mid-table. Walsall were another team I had predicted for relegation at the start of the season but Jon Whitney has proved me wrong Prediction: Gillingham 2-1 Walsall Milton Keynes vs Charlton Athletic Dan Micciche is yet to pick up a point as manager so far and they are winless in six, losing their last four. The squad is decent but Robbie Neilson didn’t get enough out of the team, which resulted in him losing his job. A revival is needed quickly to spare MK a second relegation in three seasons. Karl Robinson will want to win against his former side but off the back of two successive postponements, The Addicks haven’t won in their last three, which has seen them fall out of the play-off places. Prediction: Milton Keynes 1-1 Charlton Athletic Oxford United vs Plymouth Argyle Oxford, who have lost their last two and have slipped to 13th, have still not found a new manager after the sacking of Pep Clotet. Sol Campbell was recently in talks with the U’s after Frank Lampard turned the job down. They have also been given permission to talk to Everton youth coach David Unsworth. Plymouth have been on an exceptional run which has seen them go from bottom of the league to 8th. This has seen them go from relegation certainties to play-off contenders Prediction: Oxford United 2-2 Plymouth Argyle Scunthorpe United vs Northampton Town The Iron have been n a run of one win in seven but they have retained their place in the play-offs and look set for another go at promotion to the Championship after being eliminated in the play-offs last season by Millwall. Northampton are only two points above the relegation zone going into this game. A short burst of form propelled them out of the bottom four but two home losses on the bounce have dragged them back into the mire. Prediction: Scunthorpe United 3-1 Northampton Town Shrewsbury Town vs Rotherham United Shrewsbury regained top spot in mid-week after a 2-1 win away at Fleetwood and with Wigan slipping up in the past two games, it is a great chance for The Shrews to pull away at the top. Paul Warne has got Rotherham going and The Millers are on a 12 game unbeaten run, 9 of them wins. They have also free-scoring with them bagging 22 goals in that 12 game sequence. Prediction: Shrewsbury Town 1-2 Rotherham United Southend United vs Portsmouth The Shrimpers have been revived under Chris Powell and are four games unbeaten. They have won both of their home games under the former Charlton manager. Pompey have hit a bad patch and have only one win in their last seven, seeing them slip away from the play-offs. Inconsistency is the South Coast clubs’ biggest problem with them winning and losing 14 games this season with only four draws. Prediction: Southend United 2-1 Portsmouth Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  6. This weekend in League One sees the big fixture come from Sixfields as Northampton Town take on MK Dons in the derby. This is also a relegation six pointer as MK sit 19th on 30 points whilst Northampton are 21st with 29. There is also an intriguing match at the New York Stadium as both Rotherham United and Portsmouth look to move into the play-off positions. There aren’t many standout fixtures, but this will be a crucial matchday as teams look to bring players in whilst the transfer window is still open. AFC Wimbledon vs Blackpool The Dons’ form has picked up in recent matches with a win and two draws from their last three games including two successive clean sheets. However, despite this, they’re the second lowest scorers in the division, something they will need to address quickly if they’re to avoid the drop back to the fourth tier. Despite being in and around the play-offs for the first few months of the season, Blackpool’s form has dipped of late and they have dropped to 16th after only two wins in their last fifteen games. Also, the news coming out of Bloomfield Road this week is that Karl Oyston’s son Sam has been appointed Chief Executive of the club. Just when the Oystons looked like they were selling the club, things get worse. Prediction: AFC Wimbledon 1-0 Blackpool Bristol Rovers vs Bradford City Despite going through half the season with no draws, the Pirates have drawn three of their last four games. Rovers have also won 8 of their 13 home games but inconsistency in the team is a factor. Bradford’s amazing home record from last season has vanished with them losing seven times at Valley Parade in 2017/18. However, their away form reads for good reading with them losing only one of their last six games away from home. The Bantams have hit the net in the last ten successive league games. Prediction: Bristol Rovers 2-2 Bradford City Charlton Athletic vs Walsall Charlton had a bit of a dip in form over the festive period, with not one win in December. But back-to-back 1-0 wins has kept them in the play-off places. This could be the up-turn in form The Addicks need but the loss of Ricky Holmes is big and leaves a big void empty at left midfield. Walsall got back to winning ways last weekend against Oxford and it could be the boost in confidence they need and with Erhun Oztumer, they have a player who can swing a game in the way of The Saddlers. Their away form has been mixed this season with them playing 12, winning three, drawing three and losing six. However, they’ve failed to win in their last three away games. Prediction: Charlton Athletic 2-1 Walsall Fleetwood Town vs Blackburn Rovers I had Fleetwood to finish 2nd at the start of the season but it hasn’t gone to plan for the Cod Army who sit 11th in the table. They might have won three of their last four games but they’ve all been away from home and they haven’t won at Highbury since late October. This squad, for me, had so much promise at the start of the season but it hasn’t shown on the pitch. lackburn have been in unstoppable form as of late. They’re unbeaten in their last 15 games and have just come off the back of a massive 3-1 win against promotion rivals Shrewsbury. They have all the confidence in the world going into this game and having signed Paul Downing permanently and made the quality loan additions of Adam Armstrong and Jack Payne, this Rovers side looks a force to be reckoned with. Prediction: Fleetwood Town 1-3 Blackburn Rovers Northampton Town vs Milton Keynes A big relegation six pointer or is it too early to call it that? Northampton have won back-to-back games with a 3-1 success at home to Southend, backed up by a 2-1 win away at Bradford. Could this finally be, Hasselbaink’s plan coming together to try and pull The Cobblers away from the relegation zone. They have also recently captured Gbola Ariybi on loan from Nottingham Forest who spent the first half of the season on loan at The Cobblers’ opponents this weekend. On the other hand, Robbie Neilson’s men have not been in such good form with them winning only two of their last sixteen league games. MK have not won away from home since the end of September. This mixed bag of form has seen them slip dangerously close to the relegation zone. Prediction: Northampton Town 2-1 Milton Keynes Oxford United vs Bury Oxford’s home form has improved since they lost 7-0 to Wigan. They won 3-1 against MK and 1-0 against Blackpool at the Kassam Stadium. This is a good chance for the U’s to get closer to the play-off places. Everything seems to be going wrong for Bury. Chris Lucketti’s short spell in charge ended in mid-week where he was sacked. The team had failed to win in his eight games at the helm. Lucketti’s reign saw the team draw his first game in charge 0-0 with Northampton before going on to lose seven successive games, in which The Shakers didn’t score in any of them meaning Lucketti hadn’t even seen his team score. They have only scored nineteen goals all season and have a measly 17 points. Relegation looks a certainty. Prediction: Oxford United 3-0 Bury Peterborough United vs Oldham Athletic Peterborough’s form has been dipping up and down all season. They won three games in a row in December before losing to MK and drawing their last two. They recently bought in Joe Ward from Woking and George Cooper from Crewe in a bid to aid their play-off push. Oldham have a lot of good news recently. Their proposed takeover is moving ever closer, Kean Bryan has extended his loan from Manchester City till the end of the season and they have completed the permanent signing of Jack Byrne. This might be the boost The Latics need after a run of seven games without a win. Prediction: Peterborough United 1-1 Oldham Athletic Plymouth Argyle vs Wigan Athletic After a woeful start, Plymouth have found their rhythm, moving from 24th to 13th. However influential midfielder Toumani Diagouraga has departed to Fleetwood. But they’re on a good run of form, unbeaten in their last seven. Wigan are unbeaten in their last nine games and still sit top of the tree in League One. They’re the highest scorers in the division and have lost only two of their twelve away games this season. Prediction: Plymouth Argyle 1-1 Wigan Athletic Rochdale vs Southend United Rochdale have lost their last four and have won four times this season. It has seen them slump to 23rd and they’re now 7 points from safety. Southend have also lost their last four but recently sacked manager Phil Brown with Chris Powell looking the likely candidate to replace him. The Shrimpers are only two points clear of the relegation zone so an upturn in form is needed quick. Prediction: Rochdale 0-0 Southend United Rotherham United vs Portsmouth Rotherham have been one of the form teams of late, unbeaten in their last seven, winning four. But it has been sparks of bad form that has kept The Millers out of the play-off places. Pompey have been inconsistent this season, but they sit only one point off of the play-offs. This for sure is a crucial game for both teams. Prediction: Rotherham United 2-2 Portsmouth Scunthorpe United vs Gillingham The Iron have lost only one of their last fourteen games and have made good additions in January as Graham Alexander’s team keep up their play-off push. Steve Lovell has done wonders since he was appointed manager till the end of the season. He has only lost once at the helm of The Gills and they have currently been on run of six games unbeaten as they have started to edge away from the relegation zone. Prediction: Scunthorpe United 1-1 Gillingham Shrewsbury Town vs Doncaster Rovers The Shrews have defied absolute belief this season and see themselves sitting in second place and they could be on the verge of an improbable promotion to the Championship. However, last weekends 3-1 defeat to promotion rivals Blackburn leaves them only two points clear of Rovers in the race for automatic promotion. Darren Ferguson’s team have been in good form recently, unbeaten in their last six. They currently sit 12th in the table and look to have enough to avoid being sucked into the relegation battle. They have also signed Benjamin Whiteman to permanent deal from Sheffield United whilst extending the loans of Jordan Houghton (Chelsea) and Rodney Kongolo (Man City) till the end of the season. Prediction: Shrewsbury Town 1-0 Doncaster Rovers Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  7. We're not far from Christmas and the Football League prepares to head into one of the busiest periods of the season. Matchday 21 is upon us - what further twists and turns will there be in the title race, the playoff slots, and the battle against relegation? Football Manics blogger and Rotherham United fan Brad the Miller gives his predictions for Saturday's games (all 3pm kickoff). BLACKPOOL v ROTHERHAM UNITED Blackpool, whilst not in the best of form at the moment, should prove too much for the woefully out of form Millers who have gone seven games without a win. Prediction: Home win BRADFORD CITY v ROCHDALE The Bantams should be looking for three points from this game but it will be far from easy as Dale's impressive 4-0 FA Cup win at potential banana skin Slough Town proves. Prediction: Score draw BRISTOL ROVERS v SOUTHEND UNITED The Gas put their spell of bad results to bed with a 2-1 success over Rotherham last weekend and will be looking for another three points against playoff chasing Southend but won't find it quite as easy as the Millers victory. Prediction: Score draw BURY v AFC WIMBLEDON Two relegation candidates meet at Gigg Lane. Both sides are out of form in the league although the Dons have had recent success in the cup. Prediction: Away win CHARLTON ATHLETIC v PORTSMOUTH Promotion favourites Charlton at home against an inconsistent Pompey outfit, only one outcome in my opinion. Prediction: Home win MK DONS V SHREWSBURY TOWN Mid table MK host the season's surprise package the Shrews. After a couple of defeats I think Paul Hurst's well drilled team can get back on track in this game but it'll be close. Prediction: Away win OLDHAM ATHLETIC v NORTHAMPTON TOWN Richie Wellens' massively improved Oldham side meet Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's relegation threatened Cobblers at Boundary Park. I can only see one outcome. Prediction: Home win OXFORD UNITED v DONCASTER ROVERS Mid table Oxford host improving Donny at the Kassam stadium. A match that could go either way so I'm sitting on the fence. Prediction: Score draw PETERBOROUGH UNITED v BLACKBURN ROVERS Posh have been an enigma so far this season, brilliant one week, rubbish the next while Blackburn look to be getting into their stride after an indifferent start. Prediction: Away win PLYMOUTH ARGYLE v GILLINGHAM Argyle are still struggling after last season's promotion and host a Gills side who have been struggling but have improved recently. Prediction: No score draw WALSALL v SCUNTHORPE UNITED The inconsistent Saddlers will be hard pushed to keep out a Scunthorpe side that has been flying in the league lately. Prediction: Away win WIGAN ATHLETIC v FLEETWOOD TOWN My tip for champions of League One, table-topping Wigan, host mid table Fleetwood in what on paper looks another home banker. Prediction: Home win Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  8. League Cup holders Manchester United have been drawn to face Championship outfit Burton Albion at Old Trafford in the third round of the competition. In the draw, held controversially in Beijing at 4:15am BST, Liverpool were handed an away tie at former Premier League champions Leicester City, while Arsenal host Doncaster Rovers of League One. The lowest-ranked team in the draw, third-tier Bristol Rovers, will travel to Molineux to face Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers, who beat last season's runners-up Southampton on Wednesday evening. Other bumper ties include Manchester City's visit West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea hosting Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur to face either Barnsley or Derby County at Wembley. The ties will be played in the week beginning September 18. The competition is currently named the Carabao Cup for sponsorship reasons and is also known as the EFL Cup. EFL Cup third round draw: West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester City Everton vs. Sunderland Leicester City vs. Liverpool Manchester United vs. Burton Albion Brentford vs. Norwich City Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Bristol Rovers Burnley vs. Leeds United Arsenal vs. Doncaster Rovers Bristol City vs. Stoke City Reading vs. Swansea City Aston Villa vs. Middlesbrough Chelsea vs. Nottingham Forest West Ham vs. Bolton Wanderers Crystal Palace vs. Huddersfield Town Tottenham Hotspur vs. Barnsley/Derby County Bournemouth vs. Brighton Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  9. In this article, Football Manics writer CJ looks at the teams in League One that will be expected to challenge for the title, as well as those who may be struggling at the wrong end of the table. THE TITLE CONTENDERS MILLWALL Narrowly missing out on safety last season, Millwall are your typical yo-yo club but they are no pushovers when it comes to League One and will have the quality to mount a serious title challenge, as they bid to return back to the Championship. With a squad made up of physical players and lethal options on goal, the Lions will no doubt bounce back after a disappointing season in the second tier of English professional football. CHARLTON ATHLETIC After a season that Charlton fans will want to forget, the Addicks are eager to focus on the main matters in order to jump straight back up into the Championship These will be one of the most well equipped teams for doing so, with many big earners for the division. They won’t lack star quality, as they take on the teams that equally want to gain promotion during the 2016-17 season, but a lot depends on off-the-pitch matters too. MK DONS Not only will MK Dons be looking to return to the Championship, where they bravely battled against relegation last year, but they will be looking forward to their first ever tie against AFC Wimbledon after the demise of the original team. The Dons have a quality packed squad, full of pace and power – along with many upcoming players who all should enjoy life in League One terrorizing the opposition defence. BOLTON WANDERERS Provided financial woes don’t continue for Bolton Wanderers, they should rival many of the teams aiming to secure a play-off space – if not higher. They have a weakened squad due to their money worries, however with signings and the quality they do have, it should be enough to avoid becoming stuck as three of the seven teams have done prior to their relegated stint in the Championship (Coventry, Bradford and Sheffield United). COVENTRY CITY After more than a few years plying their trade in a division way beneath their potential, Coventry City will have bright hopes for the 2016-17 season. They have gone about their business fairly quietly, yet they have a strong squad for the division that just needs a guiding hand in order to aid them in their quest for promotion back to the Championship. Coventry will be looking to forget about campaigns where they ultimately failed to make the grade, and focus on the fresh, exciting optimism for the upcoming season ahead. BRADFORD CITY After enjoying success in recent years, Bradford City will be looking to go one step further during this ever-progressing spell for the club. Narrowly missing out during the play-offs, which Bantrams found themselves to be favourites for promotion – they go about business in the best possible manner, often signing the quality available around them, which makes them a very good League One side. SHEFFIELD UNITED The Blades, who were in the Premier League just a decade ago, are tipped for promotion time and time again but have fallen short in recent years. 2016-17 presents them the opportunity to progress, as with the tougher opposition found in the league now. It will remind them that they must get the right results, at the right time and Sheffield United should fear nobody in League One but themselves. THE RELEGATION CANDIDATES AFC WIMBLEDON After their fairytale upraise through the leagues since their foundation, Wimbledon find themselves preparing for a new dawn. It would be easy to compare them to Stevenage and Yeovil, who had made the grade at League One level despite being written off each season – the latter more so because Wimbledon have something extremely special about them which makes about a potential promotion to the championship more interesting. However, I’m afraid the odds are not at all in their favour – it will take teamwork, grit and determination just to survive relegation, given the phoenix club’s relatively small standing and infrastructure. Unfortunately the likelihood of the Dons’ amazing climb up the table continuing seems vastly unlikely at this level, with a difficult year ahead of them. OLDHAM ATHLETIC After former Oldham Athletic manager John Sheridan moved to League Two side Notts County, talk regarding why a manager would leave to join a side which sits lower in the league pyramid and which had struggled inevitably arose. It had people talking about various possibilities, but it’s quite well known that the Latics are struggling financially and it seems that new manager Steve Robinson has an uphill task on his hands. Their future as a League One club solely relies on how he can build and develop their style of play against the rougher opposition, whilst standing out against the teams of the same stature. SHREWSBURY TOWN Prior campaigns have seen Shrewsbury Town in around the mix, with the odd season seeing them establish themselves as a candidate for mid-table. With the progress in which other clubs have made, along with the fallen greats that now will apply their trade at League One level, the Shrews are in the situation that only they can be used to and that is fighting off another season where low expectations perceive them. Either they will prove the doubters wrong yet again, or they will struggle to adapt to the league around them and fall into dangerous waters. BRISTOL ROVERS After a tremendous 2015-16 season, Bristol Rovers will have to battle bravely with their first return to League One since 2010 on the back of double promotions, firstly from the Skrill Premier and more recently League Two. Despite their upward rise, there is a lot that they must get spot on if they are to bank on consolidation within the third division of English football. They will require their no fear attacking, careful and alert defending but more importantly they will need to continue as a team. BURY Seasoned veterans after surviving the drop last campaign, Bury will be looking to either improve or secure a position close to where they did last term – 14th is a very respectable position for them. However, prior years and, as history shows, the season after doing moderately well, comes with the tiring battle of trying to shake off relegation in subsequent campaigns. With a lack of firepower, Bury will find the 2016-17 season difficult, and it may well pan out how it did back in 2012-13, which resulted in relegation after finishing 14th the year before that. Who do you think will impress in League One and who will have a tough time? Share your thoughts on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.
  10. Oxford United and Bristol Rovers have earned promotion to League One on the final day of the season after winning their respective games, while Accrington Stanley had to make do with a playoff berth courtesy of a goalless draw against Stevenage. Cheyenne Dunkley's glancing header from Chris Maguire's corner gave Oxford, who ultimately finished second in League Two, the lead early in the second half against Wycombe Wanderers. Chris Maguire added a second from the penalty spot after Kemar Roofe was brought down in the area by Chairboys defender Aaron Pierre, before Callum O'Dowda sealed the win late on with a shot from inside the box. As for Rovers, Lee Brown struck their winner in stoppage time as they came from behind to win against relegated Dagenham & Redbridge. Darrell Clarke's side, who were relegated to the National League on the final day of the season in 2014, have now secured back-to-back promotions to take their place in the third tier. Oxford, meanwhile, will play in the third division for the first time since 2000-01 next season.
  11. Bristol Rovers have signed Swansea City striker Oliver McBurnie on loan until the end of the season. The Scotland Under-21 international has yet to make an appearance for the Swans since signing from Bradford City in July 2015. McBurnie, 19, spent three games on loan at Newport County earlier this season, and scored a hat-trick on his debut. Bristol Rovers are currently sixth in the League Two table, nine points outside the automatic promotion places.
  12. Bristol Rovers have signed forward Rory Fallon on non-contract terms until the end of the season. The 33-year-old has been training with the League Two club for the last month. "He's a very experienced footballer and someone who I would call an old-fashioned striker," said Rovers manager Darrell Clarke. Fallon has been capped 18 times by New Zealand, and represented his country at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

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