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THE SPORTING LIFE PREVIEW

9 February 2019

It’s set to be another exciting weekend of action in Sky Bet League One this weekend. Sporting Life’s Tom Carnduff previews the latest round of games...

There’s some daylight starting to appear at the top of the table, with Luton sitting six points clear of second-placed Barnsley.

The Hatters have continued building on the momentum gained from promotion for League Two last season, and they now find themselves as the odds-on favourites with Sky Bet to win the title and secure back-to-back promotions.

They’ll be looking to continue their fine home form when they welcome Wycombe to Kenilworth Road. Luton have won 12 of their 15 games in front of their own supporters this season, drawing the other three.

Meanwhile, Barnsley will be hoping that Wycombe’s recent good form will help them as they look to close that gap above them.

The Tykes face the trip to Gillingham this week, which is set to be a tough test for Daniel Stendel’s side.

Gillingham may have not won their last two home encounters, but they have beaten Premier League Cardiff and league leaders Portsmouth at the Priestfield Stadium in past weeks.

Portsmouth will be wanting to halt a rough patch of form that has seen them drop into the play-off positions, and this week sees them come up against a Plymouth side who have picked up 12 points from their last possible 15.

Kenny Jackett’s men can take confidence in their away form though, with Pompey boasting the best record in the road in England’s third tier.

Elsewhere, Sunderland’s games in hand mean that they could go level with Luton on points if they win those three extra games in their favour.

They still sit in fourth despite playing three games less than those around them. A trip to Oxford awaits this weekend, another team who have been picking up points recently despite their position in the table.

Speaking of games in hand, Doncaster can capitalise on their current position over Peterborough when they welcome Posh to the Keepmoat on Saturday.

Former manager Darren Ferguson, who recently took to the London Road dugout for the third time, will be wanting a play-off finish for his side – but victory for the hosts will see them overtake Peterborough with two games in their favour.

The other side sitting comfortably in the play-offs is Charlton. Lee Bowyer continues to get the best out of his players and they look good value for consecutive top-six finishes.

They welcome mid-table Southend to the Valley next. It won’t be an easy task with the Shrimpers picking up some good away victories in recent weeks, which includes a 4-0 win over Bradford.

The Bantams will hope that they can move out of the relegation zone when they take on Fleetwood.

Joey Barton’s side are stronger at home, although have earned at least a point in their past three away games and they’ll be wanting the same in West Yorkshire.

AFC Wimbledon remain at the bottom of the table, but they can start to move closer to safety if they can earn a win against Burton.

The Brewers have experienced mixed results away from home. That said, they did earn a point away at Doncaster last time they were on the road.

Manager of the Month Stuart McCall will be hoping his side can continue their recent revival as they take on Accrington.

The Iron are unbeaten in their last three games at Glanford Park, which includes a point against Sunderland in their last game there.

Stanley have a decent enough away record though and will be hopeful that they can capitalise on the said ‘curse’ that sometimes comes with the monthly awards.

Shrewsbury proved themselves to be one of the FA Cup’s entertainers in the past month, coming from behind to beat Championship Stoke before scoring two away at high-flying Premier League outfit Wolves.

They will be hopeful that they can utilise the confidence gained from that good performance as they take on Bristol Rovers, who are just outside of the drop zone.

Another side looking to push themselves away for relegation trouble is Rochdale, who sit two points above the bottom four.

Coventry are the visitors this week. The Sky Blues have lost four of their last five on the road, showing how this is a game where both sides will desperately want the three points.

Elsewhere, it’s a trip to the seaside for Walsall as they take on play-off outsiders Blackpool. Terry McPhillips’ side sitting six points adrift of the top-six.

The Saddlers do have a fairly decent away record overall though, highlighting how they will be a tough opponent to beat.

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