League Two Preview - Crawley and Southend look to build on midweek victories
The midweek League Two fixtures saw Crawley and Southend cement their places at the top of the fourth tier of English football. Southend recorded a comfortable 3-0 win at Underhill with Barnet defender Darren Dennehy seeing red in the second half. Crawley went behind to Dagenham & Redbridge, but a red card after 17 minutes for Scott Doe resulted in a penalty, converted by Matt Tubbs. This sent the Red Devils on their way to a 3-1 victory which was sealed five minutes from time by Jon-Paul Pitman. There were also plenty of goals at the Globe Arena, with 4th-placed Morecambe squandering a 3-1 half-time lead to draw 3-3 with Rotherham. Hereford hauled themselves out of danger with a 3-1 win against fellow strugglers Northampton, their third straight victory. Plymouth suffered a 5-1 hammering away to Oxford with braces for James Constable and loanee Robert Hall. Torquay delivered a surprise result at Plainmoor, thumping promotion hopefuls AFC Wimbledon 4-0, who in turn slipped down to 12th.
The game of the weekend sees third-place Shrewsbury up against the Wombles, who will be looking to bounce back from that midweek thumping at the hands of Torquay. The Wombles have lost the last three games on the spin and they were the biggest fallers in midweek, dropping to the very bottom of the top half after occupying a play-off spot for most of the season so far. Shrewsbury leapt into the automatic promotion spots after their midweek exploits but they have proven to be inconsistent so far this season and have not won consecutive games since the start of September. Wimbledon will be led by Stuart Cash on Saturday, as Terry Brown will be absent due to family issues. Christian Jolley is on the way to recovery, but will more than likely miss out against Shrewsbury while Kieran Djilali and Fraser Franks are both back in contention for the Wombles. Shrewsbury have no new injury concerns.
Table-toppers Crawley Town face lowly Accrington Stanley on Saturday on the back of a hot streak, the Red Devils have won seven league games on the bounce. Stanley, on the other hand, have not won since the start of October, and have failed to score for over six hours in League Two. While Accrington have registered just one win against top-half opponents, Crawley have played seven fixtures against teams in the bottom-half, and have collected maximum points on every occasion. Accrington will be hoping to have former Birmingham and Charlton midfielder Bryan Hughes available after he signed on a free transfer on Thursday. Neither side have any fresh injury worries after midweek.
Oxford, fresh from their midweek thumping of strugglers Plymouth, entertain Port Vale at the Kassam Stadium tomorrow. Vale manager Micky Adams has this week praised opposition boss Chris Wilder, who he managed at Brighton, and his praise is well-earned as Oxford have lost just once since the start of October. Vale’s inconsistency is compounded by the fact that they have won back-to-back matches just twice all season and they come into the match on the back of a 3-0 win at Bristol Rovers in midweek. Neither side have any new injury concerns.
Cheltenham lost their first game since the middle of September on Tuesday, and will be hoping to return to form against bottom-of-the-table Plymouth. Carl Fletcher’s men suffered the club’s worst defeat since March 2005 against Oxford, and have won just twice all season. Cheltenham have lost just twice at home all season, and will be looking to climb the table, after slipping two places in midweek. The Robins will welcome back Jack Butland and Theo Lewis but Jimmy Spencer will be missing from tomorrow’s squad. Argyle have no fresh injury worries.
Morecambe jumped three places to fourth after their 3-3 draw in midweek and they face a Gillingham side sitting in ninth place in League Two. Morecambe have a good record against teams in the top-half, losing just once against the teams around them while Gillingham have lost half of their matches against teams in the top 12. Despite the Shrimps sitting in fourth place, they have won just once in six league matches. Morecambe’s home record is one of the worst in the division, and they have picked up just two wins at the Globe Arena this term.
Elsewhere, Barnet who slipped to second-from-bottom, face Burton, Bristol Rovers face 22nd –in-the-league Dagenham & Redbridge and Bradford face play-off hopefuls Swindon. Second-placed Southend travel to Macclesfield while there are bottom-half clashes between Aldershot and Crewe and Torquay and Hereford.