By Matthew Holmes, Jacob Findell, Callum Sutherland, Steven Narloch, Joe Brayne and Isaac Stronge
Relegation battles continue for Wigan and Rochdale, whilst Bolton and Stockport continue their promotion charges. Can Atrincham pull off a successful raid at Wealdstone? Will this weekend see Salford revitalise their form?
It’s got to the point now that a point away at Crewe can’t be seen as a good result for League Two basement club Rochdale, who desperately need to be getting wins as the season hurtles towards its climax.
The draw ended a run of three straight defeats for Dale, but their failure to make the most of a man advantage could prove costly by the time summer comes around.
The visit of Stevenage, sitting second in the league, might have represented a decent chance for Rochdale to pick up those vital three points, with the Hertfordshire team without a win in the last five before the weekend.
But a 3-2 triumph against AFC Wimbledon has the promotion hopefuls back on course, and they’ll be seeing the trip to Rochdale as a perfect chance to secure their place in the top two.
Despite last weekend’s defeat against Preston North End being the first under Shaun Maloney, Wigan are still in a perilous position. The Greater Manchester outfit remain bottom of the championship, level with Huddersfield and Blackpool but four points from safety.
This Saturday sees the Latics host Birmingham City, a game which could be season-defining. The Midlands team are 19th and have lost their last four games.
Wigan are also struggling to find goals under Maloney, with three in five games since his arrival. However, they have beaten Birmingham in the last three meetings. City have also only won two of the last 13 fixtures.
Should Athletic pick up a result, it would be a big step in the right direction. Fans will be hoping forward Will Keane can add to his tally of 10 goals so far this season.
The Ammies have had a mixed week, kicking off with a fantastic 5-2 win over Mansfield on Saturday afternoon, before being brought crashing back down to earth with a 1-1 draw away at Barrow last night.
Neil Wood will have hoped that the big win over the Stags might have reignited their promotion push, but in truth the 5-2 scoreline flattered Salford who have looked shaky for a few weeks. The draw with Barrow was the reverse, with Salford dominating but being unable to find a winner.
One bright spark has been the form of Aston Villa loanee Louie Barry, who has settled quickly and put in some stellar performances for his new side, but the rest of the side will have to step up if they are to make their promotion dreams come true.
After a run of difficult games, a home tie against Newport should be an easier task for the side on paper, but the Welsh side have lost just one of their last six games, so the Ammies cannot afford to be complacent.
In the second of two away matches in four days, Altrincham will look to get back to winning ways. They travel to West London to face a Wealdstone side who will be smarting following their midweek thrashing.
It would have been a frustrating journey, all the way back from Yeovil. The Robins let slip a lead they had for the majority of the match to end up with just a point.
The draw has somewhat halted the momentum that Altrincham had picked up. They were on a run of three consecutive victories before Tuesday night’s draw.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s fixture. Wealdstone will be looking to bounce back after suffering a 5-0 hammering at Halifax in the week.
Altrincham will be without defender James Jones after he was sent off against Yeovil. But could this finally be the match that on-loan attacker Joe Hugill is unleashed? He has hardly featured since his arrival from Man United.
Wealdstone and Altrincham currently sit 12th and 11th respectively. Mid-table will be the likely finishing place for both of these teams. Though as we approach the business end of the season, a late playoff push is not completely ruled out.
In football, fans have to take the bitter with the sweet (is it too soon to say ‘Toughshweet’). Accrington Stanley eventually crumbled during the mid-week as the Wanderers stormed to the Papa Johns Football League Trophy Final. A day at Wembley and a shot at silverware is gold dust for League One sides, especially when facing the defensively suspect Plymouth Argyle.
A follow-up 2-1 victory over Port Vale at the weekend steadied Bolton’s play-off ambitions. Yet just as soon as the Wanderer’s looked to have righted the course, a trip down south to Portsmouth resulted in a disappointing 3-1 collapse.
Bolton have played the most matches in League One (35), with two losses in the last five matches leaving the door open for Wycombe and Peterborough to mount late play-off charges. Saturday’s travels to the home of the Eden Project North, Morecambe, offers Ian Evatt’s men the opportunity to hammer a relegation-bound side. The Shrimps have endured a tough run of games of late but have scored just twice over their past five games.
All good things come to an end and Stockport County’s winning streak is no different, after suffering their first defeat in seven games when they travelled to Holker Street to face Barrow last weekend.
The Hatters had a perfect record in the five preceding games, which had taken them to within a point of the automatic promotion places.
County welcome mid-table Doncaster Rovers to Edgeley Park this weekend as they fight to keep their play-off place.
With still no sign of club captain Paddy Madden returning to action following his injury, goalscoring duties are likely to fall on Kyle Wootton or Isaac Olaofe, unless top-scorer Will Collar can reignite his former striking threat from midfield.