The Promotion Race: Sunderland and Ipswich look to get back to winning ways at the Stadium of Light while Oxford travel to inform Peterborough
We take a look at the weekend fixtures with the clash of the weekend at the Stadium of Light when Ipswich visit Sunderland, both looking to return to winning ways. Elsewhere, leadings Rotherham will be looking to extend their lead at the top with a tricky looking Friday night clash at Sincil Bank. Peterborough will be looking to maintain their recent upturn in form when entertaining Oxford United.
Lincoln v Rotherham (Friday Night)
Our Prediction: 1-2
Andrew Topham: The table topping millers travel to Lincoln on Friday night backed by a following of over 1700 fans.
Rotherham will be looking to get their excellent away form back on track after the recent narrow defeat when they were last on the road at Peterborough. Freddie Ladapo made a strong case for a recall to the starting eleven after his impressive match winning performance against Burton last Saturday. New signings Koroma and Tilt will also be pushing for a place in the squad.
Burton Albion v Gillingham
Our Prediction: 2-2
Burton Bible: Burton come into this one on the back of 3 game winless run and risk falling out the playoffs picture altogether if we don’t pick up our form soon. New signing kwane Thomas should give us something different upfront and we finally have a fully fit squad. Opponents Gillingham have gone 10 games unbeaten and put themselves in the playoff picture. This is a must win game if we want to stay in contention.
Coventry v Bolton
Our Prediction: 3-1
NiiLampteyShow: We’ve got Bolton on Saturday and when we played them at the Reebok (I don’t care) in August we got a 0-0 draw against a team with an actual average age of about 18 and at the time Mark Robins said that when people in the future see the score in the Rothmans yearbook, it will look like a creditable result. It is testament to how much Robins is idolised by Cov fans that he wasn’t called out for one of the dumbest things anyone has ever said. Bolton went on to concede 5 goals a game in their next 50 games (citation needed) and we were left to rue a significant missed opportunity.
This time round they don’t seem too much better. For a while it looked like they might have a run at staying up but they look increasingly beleaguered (a word seemingly only ever used in a football context for some reason) and we SHOULD smash them to smithereens at the weekend. That said, there will be some ‘tired legs’ out there after a morale sapping 120 mins against Birmingham last night. How they react to that will play a massive role in how we do.
Doncaster v Rochdale
Our Prediction: 2-0
IntoTheEmptyNet: We are looking forward to this one after beating Tranmere midweek and with new signings settling in and scoring goals already, we have to be looking to beat Rochdale. Rovers thrashed them 5-0 in this fixture last season and will be hoping for another comfortable one, but I’m sure it won’t be that easy again. If James Coppinger comes back and either Devante Cole or Fejiri Okenabirhie find goalscoring form up front, we should have enough for the win. Score prediction: Unfortunately I got it bang on last time out at Fleetwood! Hoping for the Midas Touch this time..
Peterborough v Oxford
Our Prediction: 3-1
Jarred Farmer: Oxford have impressed me this season, especially with their recruitment, George Thorne is a superb signing if they can keep him fit, they’ve been dealt a blow losing tariqe Fosu and Baptiste to Brentford. We’re coming off four wins on the bounce, the last of them coming at Portman Road, they’ll be hard to break down but I fancy us to do it.
Dale Ventham: We’re on the road this weekend at another promotion rival in Peterborough United. The Posh smashed Ipswich last weekend, while we secured our first win of 2020 with a win against Blackpool. We’ve already played Peterborough twice, winning 1-0 in the league and Carabao Cup. For us, we played 120 minutes against Newcastle United in our FA Cup fourth round replay so fatigue could come into play. That said, I think we’ll earn a deserved point.
Sunderland v Ipswich
Our Prediction: 1-1
SunderLAD: Fourth place Ipswich Town travel to the Stadium of Light to take on seventh place Sunderland. Both teams suffering defeat to playoff rivals in their last fixture and will be keen to bounce back. Arguably, Sunderland will be more keen to secure 3 points, because they sit outside of the playoffs.
SAFC are forced to make two changes after injuries to Wyke and Lynch at Fratton Park. Thankfully, they have replacements who can easily slot in. All eyes will be on Kyle Lafferty, who is expected to make it into the Starting XI for the first time. His aerial presence will give Ipswich something to think about defensively.
BackingtheBlues: Town travel to the Stadium of light this weekend with hopes of reigniting their promotion push. A win would go a long way for Ipswich giving them confidence entering the last 14 games of the season. It will be a tough game, as ever no game is easy in League . If, and it’s a big IF, the selection is right, we might get a draw.
Tranmere v Portsmouth
Our Prediction: 0-2
Sam Stone: Life as a Pompey fan is pretty good right now. Eight wins on the bounce, brushing Sunderland aside with ease, dynamic football and a big cup tie around the corner. However, immediate attention will now turn to Prenton Park and Tranmere Rovers; more specifically the Prenton park pitch which I will come onto in a little bit. Pompey come into the game off three really encouraging performances.
Last weekend’s match against Sunderland was a big win and statement of intent. Jackett’s men were more clinical when It mattered in the first half and then completely dominated in the second period to ease to a 2-0 win, which probably flattered Sunderland; I am sure most Sunderland fans would agree with me on that one.
I mentioned in my preview that set pieces would be crucial, and they were. Ronan Curtis proving the catalyst with his delivery last weekend. I feel they could be crucial again this Saturday against a struggling Tranmere, on a pitch which encourages a more direct approach due to the lack of grass and amount of sand that is present. Anyone looking for the silky tiki-taka should probably steer clear of Birkenhead this weekend. The added energy and steal in midfield could be key again. Cameron McGeehan has shown a matureness in his play, taking up clever positions both offensively and defensively. Whilst his work has probably gone unnoticed by many, Pompey have comfortably won every game he has played, and his presence has been key to their success. I might be sounding like a broken record, but Andy Cannon was head and shoulders above any player on the pitch on Saturday and should relish the physical scrap that awaits at Tranmere. As I previously mentioned I believe set-pieces could yet again be a big indicator to the outcome of this game.
Pompey have picked up two impressive clean sheets in their last two games and have Player of the Month nominee Steve Seddon’s left foot to thank for the increase in set-piece goals. If him and Ronan Curtis can maintain their recent quality delivery, they will cause problems. Pompey transfer target Manny Monthe will have to have a dominant game for the hosts at the heart of their defence. The same can be said of Christian Burgess and Sean Raggett for Pompey, who will be looking to maintain their good recent form on a pitch which will prove a tough test. Pompey go into the game on the back of eight successive wins, whilst Tranmere currently sit bottom of the form guide.
All roads do point to a Pompey win; however, Pompey have been disappointing on the road for the majority of the season, especially before Christmas. So, I don’t think it will be an easy day at the office.
Wycombe v Bristol Rovers
Our Prediction: 2-0
TheWycomeWay: Given Wanderers’ recent inability to do anything even remotely decent away from home since the defeat at Oxford, it’s vital that they keep up their impressive home form having won a staggering 36 points at Adams Park this season.
Bristol Rovers are the visitors to Bucks on Saturday. A side who’s form has dipped massively since Coughlan’s move to L2 side Mansfield. Rovers find themselves in 13th position, without a league win since their 1-2 win away at Ipswich, and no win in all comps since a FA Cup replay win at Plymouth.
Wanderers need to keep picking up the wins on home soil, especially in the winnable games like this weekend.