• Nathan Smith

EASTER EFL WATCH: SIX MUST SEE GAMES THIS BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND


The 2021/22 EFL season is drawing to a close and we are set for a bank holiday weekend of full of action.


Most of the promotion and relegation places are still up for grabs, meaning the stakes are higher than ever for those teams looking to make that final push.


Let's take a look at six games you cannot miss this weekend...


THE CHAMPIONSHIP


GOOD FRIDAY: Luton Town vs Nottingham Forest - KO 12:30pm


Luton Town have been the surprise package of the Championship this season, finding themselves right in the play-off hunt. Nathan Jones returned to the Hatters after a failed stint at Stoke, and picked up right where he left off in 2019, contuining Luton's rise from the non-league to an established Championship side.


Nottingham Forest have also surprised many by being firmly into the play-off picture, when you consider it took them eight attempts to score their first Championship win this season. Steve Cooper has revolutionised a flat Forest team, and enabled them to take apart the likes of Arsenal and Leicester, as well as go toe to toe with Liverpool.


Kenilworth Road can be a daunting place for many to go, but Forest are no slouches away from home, picking up 30 points on their travels so far this season. The away side have started April brilliantly, picking up maximum points from three games, whereas Luton are yet to enter the win column this month.


We should be in for an exciting game to kick off the Easter football festivities in front of the Sky Sports cameras, and this could realistically be the best game of the weekend, as well as an early preview to this season's Championship play-offs.


EASTER MONDAY: Barnsley vs Peterborough United - KO 3pm


It has been a disastrous season for last year's play-off semi finalists in Barnsley, who failed to replace the departing Valerian Ismael and find themselves entrenched in a relegation battle. However, the Tykes no longer sit bottom of the league, and out of the three sides that are in the drop zone, they stand the best chance of catching 21st placed Reading.


Peterborough have fared no better this season, and currently sit bottom of the league, having failed to adjust to the Championship after their promotion last season. Performances have improved under the returning Grant McCann, but it seems as if Posh are destined for another season back in England's third tier.


April has not been so kind to Barnsley, as a late Reading equaliser dealt a big blow to their survival hopes, and a thrashing by the hands of Millwall was certainly not the way they wanted to bounce back. A trip to an in-form Swansea side is a tough ask, but you feel a win against what seems like an already down Peterborough could be vital if they are to stand any chance of staying up. While Posh are still mathematically able to survive, the game in hand for Barnsley stands them in much better stead, and makes a win on Monday vital to the Tykes.

LEAGUE ONE


GOOD FRIDAY: Wycombe Wanderers vs Plymouth Argyle - KO 3pm


Wycombe fans felt very hard done by to be relegated from the Championship last season, due to the off-field activities of Derby County, but are looking to bounce straight back into the second tier via the play-offs. Sam Vokes has been a vital cog in the Gareth Ainsworth system, which remains efficient in an ultra-competitive League One season.


Steven Schumacher has done a wonderful job filling in for Ryan Lowe since his departure to Preston earlier in the season, and you could definitely argue that the team has improved since his promotion from assistant to manager. Outsiders in the automatic promotion race, it would be hard to see Argyle drop out of the play-offs, especially with the tight defence they now possess.


Both sides are vying to be a part of the League One play-offs this season, but with Plymouth relatively comfortable in fourth, the onus will be on Wycombe to get all three points at Adams Park and push themselves into the top six. If Plymouth can secure the victory, their outside chance of a top two finish is still on and it would provide them invaluable momentum going into another huge game against Sunderland on Monday.


EASTER MONDAY: Gillingham vs Fleetwood Town - KO 3pm


Gillingham have certainly improved since the arrival of Neil Harris, and find themselves very close to being out of the relegation zone in League One. Harris' tough to beat style has made them a tough task for most teams throughout the league and has enabled them a great chance of staying up in what is always a clustered relegation battle in England's third tier.


Fleetwood are level on points with the Gills, but find themselves outside the relegation zone in 19th. Stephen Crainey has had an inconsistent start to life as Fleetwood manager, but has managed to slightly pull them out of the relegation zone, and they currently hold a game in hand, which could prove vital in the coming weeks.


Both sides are in the upper end of the relegation battle but both desperately need points if they want to stay up. Gillingham have found home wins hard to come by in recent weeks, picking up none in their last six games, but Fleetwood have also struggled on the road, although a recent away win against fellow strugglers Crewe will give them confidence for this upcoming relegatation six-pointer.


LEAGUE TWO


GOOD FRIDAY: Barrow vs Forest Green Rovers - KO 3PM


Former Premier League manager Phil Brown has hardly hit the ground running since his arrival at Barrow in late March, losing all three of his matches in charge so far. Barrow find themselves level on points with Oldham and Stevenage as the three teams battle it out to avoid the drop down to non-league alongside an already relegated Scunthorpe.


That is not a problem Forest Green have to worry about, as they look to strengthen their grip on the title by picking up all three points at Holker Street. There has been a drop in form for the league leaders however, with only three wins in their last ten, so it would be understandable if they were cautiously looking over their shoulder at an onrushing Exeter side in great form.


Despite the drop in perfomances, Forest Green still don't lose a lot of games, and will be looking to keep grinding out the results needed to lift the League Two trophy at the end of the season, whereas Brown's Barrow side are desperate for some of form of points to vindicate the decision to bring him in, as well as boost their survival chances. In a league where truly anyone can beat anyone, this has the potential to be the shock result of the weekend, if Barrow can pull off a much-needed victory.


EASTER MONDAY: Port Vale vs Bristol Rovers - KO 3pm


Port Vale have been going from strength to strength under Darrell Clarke and Andy Crosby, and look to cement themselves in the drivers seat for that coveted third position in League Two. Coming off the back of four straight wins, Vale fans certainly have a reason to be excited for the run-in, with the possibility of a return to League One after five years away.


Bristol Rovers are also looking to return to the third tier, although they will likely have to do it through the play-offs, but a result at Vale Park could change that. After a shaky start to the season, Joey Barton's side have recovered brilliantly, with Newcastle loanee Elliot Anderson establishing himself as one of the top players in the division.


Another game that has the potential to be the match of the weekend, both teams will be heading into the game full of confidence and momentum. Vale are incredibly hard to beat at home, but Rovers have the ability to cause problems and put a huge dent in Port Vale's automatic promotion plans.