Friday 19 February 2010

League One Weekend Preview, Game 32

Just as this season was threatening to mirror the last couple, we have moved in for yet another loan player in the wake of the Grant Basey injury. Left winger Johnnie Jackson from Notts County is the latest loanee to fill the gap at left back. This move says more about Kelly Youga's long term prospects and how young Chris Solly is viewed as much as anything else. I hope I am wrong and that either Kelly or Chris are back at left-back quickly which might free Jackson up to play down the left wing where we appear so short, switching between Reid, Shelvey, Racon, Bailey and either Wagstaff or Sam. At least the move is injury-inspired and not a management gamble aimed at trying to get something out of a dispirited squad of players who are playing short on confidence.

The next five days should shake things up a bit in the League One race as all sides play on Saturday and Tuesday. We have the prospect of regaining some lost ground amongst our play-off rivals as we entertain two lower table sides at the Valley.

Charlton Athletic v Yeovil Town
I felt we were robbed by the weather in the away game where we might reasonably have expected to take all three points had the match not been largely dictated by the gale and the torrential winds. Yeovil are not great travellers despite winning their last away fixture 4-1 at Wycombe, only their eleventh point of the season on the road. They come to the Valley looking to recover from a goal-less draw with Gillingham and a 1-0 defeat against Colchester in two successive home games. I don't think it will be pretty but surely we have enough about us to record our first win in six games?
Prediction; 2-0

Colchester United v Oldham Athletic
Having finally got the bit between their teeth and moved above us into third place, Colchester have the added incentive here of possibly drawing level with Leeds on points if the Elland Road wobble continues. I think they will have to settle for fourth but can't see Oldham keeping their sheet clean for too long here.
Prediction; 3-0

Exeter City v Stockport County
The Grecians are hovering above the drop zone and need to get their act together if they are to stay out of trouble. Stockport at home is a god-send in the circumstances.
Prediction; 2-0

Gillingham v Bristol Rovers
Not one for the purists, but Chris Dickson should get the chance he missed on Tuesday to show Paul Trollope what he missed. Rovers looked a lumpy, physical side to me on Tuesday, not unlike Gillingham. The Gills are in real trouble and are desperate for points.
Prediction; 2-1

Hartlepool United v Huddersfield Town
Huddersfield know that improving their away form is key to them making the play-offs. They did just that in winning their fourth away match of the campaign at Carlisle in the week. This is another winnable away but Hartlepool know their work is not done yet and should provide reasonable opposition.
Prediction; 1-1

Leeds United v Brighton & Hove Albion
This should be a routine 2-0 home win but lowly Brighton are better away from the Withdean and Leeds are playing with even less confidence than Charlton Athletic right now. A second successive home defeat is probably too much to hope for and Beckford is likely to respond with a double.
Prediction; 2-1

MK Dons v Southend United
Paul Ince will have been smarting at seeing his side thrashed 5-0 at Carlisle last week and will be demanding a response. Barring a rousing home win over Charlton next Friday, Southend's season looks over.
Prediction; 3-0

Norwich City v Southampton
Match-of-the-Day for me. People have been talking Southampton up for months now, but the fact is that even with their ten point deduction, they would still only be in ninth place. Having been put in their box by mighty Portsmouth in the cup last week they return to mundane league action here and might struggle to raise their game to where they need it to beat a pumping Norwich.
Prediction; 2-0

Swindon Town v Carlisle United
Carlisle are best avoided on the betting coupon but I can't see any surprises here. After losing at home to Huddersfield in the week, this might be a game too soon. Town have two games in hand to catch us but they won't want to rely on those.
Prediction; 2-0

Tranmere Rovers v Leyton Orient
Rovers have given themselves a fighting chance of avoiding the drop and are now level on points with Gillingham and Brighton. Home form is their saving grace and they should find Orient an open door if they can push hard enough.
Prediction; 2-1

Walsall v Brentford
Tenth play eleventh here and there's probably not a lot between them. Home form might be enough but I can see a draw.
Prediction; 1-1

Wycombe Wanderers v Millwall
Millwall are flying at the moment courtesy of a mean defence and a never-say-die front-line. Their big problem has been sustained concentration and this could be an awkward fixture for them. Losing at the New Den won't be the end-of-the-world for us although it might feel more like it if the win lifts the Lions above us in the table. Heaven forbid, so I am going for an overdue loss of concentration here.
Prediction; 2-1

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