League One & Two Previewed – The Games That Matter This Weekend
There are some big games at both ends of the table in League One and Two this weekend and in this special preview Thomas Richardson will take a look at some of the more intriguing clashes in each division.
Leyton Orient (3rd) v Peterborough United (7th)
Game of the day in League One comes at Brisbane Road where long-time leaders of League One, Leyton Orient, host another side with realistic promotion aspirations, Peterborough United.
Russell Slade's men had been on a four game winning streak before they were defeated 2-1 at Rotherham last time out, but they have a good record against Peterborough and recorded a comprehensive 3-1 victory over the Posh earlier in the season at London Road.
The O's will be reliant on strikers Kevin Lisbie and David Mooney as well as midfielder Dean Cox to get the goals; the trio having scored 40 goals between them in all competitions this season.
Peterborough go into the game on the back of four defeats in six and having only taken one point from their last six away games. Scoring goals is never a problem for the Posh away from home, averaging two goals a game, but they are conceding far too many at present.
Manager Darren Ferguson will need to turn his clubs season around fast if they are to halt their fall from the automatic promotion and play off places. Goals shouldn't be a problem with Britt Assombalonga, Lee Tomlin, Tommy Rowe and Grant McCann in the team, but can the Posh keep out an excellent Leyton Orient attack at the other end? Russell Slade will be hoping that his winning of the January manager of the month award will not mean he is subject to "the curse" that is often associated with it!
Brentford (1st) v Crawley Town (16th)
The departure of Uwe Rosler to Wigan Athletic doesn't seem to have affected Brentford much at all as the Bees sit atop League One on the back of a fantastic run of form which has seen them lose only once in 20 games. Certainly visitors to Griffin Park on Saturday, Crawley Town, have their work cut out.
Ever since previous Sporting Director Mark Warburton took the helm upon Rosler's departure, the club have won all but two of their games. Strikers Clayton Donaldson and Marcello Trotta have been amongst the goals, but they have been ably assisted by the likes of ex-Everton midfielder Adam Forshaw and Sam Saunders from midfield.
The smart money is on the Bees maintaining their place at the top of League One with a win this Saturday, but Crawley Town may well have other ideas.
Their new manager, former Aston Villa and QPR midfielder John Gregory will certainly hope so. The ex-England international has seen his side win two and draw four of his eight games in charge thus far.
Goals have been a problem for Crawley with top scorers Billy Clarke and Joe Walsh scoring just five goals all season long. Don't be fooled either by Crawley's relatively lowly league position, the Reds have up to five games in hand on teams around them in League One and a few wins will soon have them climbing the table.
Scunthorpe United (2nd) v Chesterfield (1st)
The biggest game in League One this weekend though comes at Glanford Park where second place Scunthorpe United host league leaders Chesterfield in what could be a pivotal game in deciding which team, if any, takes the League Two title come May.
Iron manager Peter Swann will be keenly aware that although his side are unbeaten in their last 13 games, they have drawn each of their last four. In addition the corresponding fixture between the two at Proact Stadium earlier this season also finished in a 1-1 draw.
With three points the difference between the sides, a point may not be enough for the home side who are themselves just a point ahead of Oxford in the League Two table. They will be able to call on the freescoring Sam Winnall (14 league goals) and the experienced Deon Burton though while ex-Coventry man Gary McSheffrey looks a prudent January transfer window signing.
McSheffrey's last club before Scunthorpe, ironically, was Chesterfield and his former side will be hoping to extend or maintain their lead at the top of League Two.
Manager Paul Cook has a talented squad to pick from including top scorer Gary Roberts (9 goals), Mark Richards, Ollie Banks, Eoin Doyle and ex-Liverpool winger Jimmy Ryan. Skipper is the experienced and outspoken ex-Derby and Blackpool defender Ian Evatt.
The Spireites come into this game on a five game unbeaten run, having won all of their last four, including a superb win away at Fleetwood Town in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in midweek. They'll certainly be ready to test their hosts in what is without doubt Saturday's top game in League Two.