EFL WATCH: FOUR GAMES YOU NEED TO SEE THIS WEEKEND
THE CHAMPIONSHIP – AFC Bournemouth vs Barnsley (13th March – KO 3pm)
After a slight dip in form, Jonathan Woodgate’s Bournemouth side have bounced back well, going unbeaten in their last three. The win against Watford stands out as their best win as the Cherries stayed resilient to grind out a 1-0 victory against the promotion chasing Hornets. Lewis Cook being ruled out for the rest of the season is a real dampener on things for Bournemouth, but they will be looking to pick up all three points against the league’s in-form team.
Nine unbeaten, Barnsley have emerged as play-off contenders under Valerian Ismael. Having won their last seven before they were held to a stalemate by Derby County, Barnsley look like a problem for any team in the division. With Cauley Woodrow back in the goals, and the Tykes back three looking stronger than ever, the play-offs look a real possibility for Barnsley this season.
Two sides searching for play-off places who like to play football the ‘right way’, this is bound to be an exciting game.
LEAGUE ONE – Bristol Rovers vs AFC Wimbledon (13th March – KO 3pm)
While life under Joey Barton has gotten off to a slightly inconsistent start, Bristol Rovers made a big statement as they beat Accrington Stanley 4-1 on Tuesday. Barton’s side put John Coleman’s team to the sword and kept solid at the back to deny Accrington from having too many real chances in the game. With four different goal scorers, Rovers fans will be hoping their team remain in a goalscoring spirit as they welcome their relegation rivals Wimbledon.
Under the guidance of long serving coach Mark Robinson, Wimbledon have looked close to getting it right in their last few games, but just haven’t found that extra quality to put teams away. They matched both Shrewsbury and Blackpool but just could not get the maximum points, while they dominated possession against Burton but only mustered two shots on goal in what looked a miserable game at Plough Lane.
Both sides will want the win to help them in this super tight League One relegation battle, but will Barton’s Rovers keep their momentum, or will Wimbledon finally put it all together and give Robinson a statement victory.
LEAGUE TWO – Exeter City vs Cheltenham Town (13th March – KO 3pm)
Exeter have bounced back from their 2-0 defeat against Crawley by keeping three clean sheets in a row and winning their last two games, to maintain the Grecians play-off push. In the absence of Tom Parkes and Pierce Sweeney, both Alex Hartridge and Rory McCardle have stepped up to the plate and helped Matt Taylor’s side stay strong at the back. The return of Ryan Bowman has seen Exeter look back to their best in attack, with Matt Jay netting a hat trick on Tuesday against Scunthorpe.
Cheltenham currently lead League Two despite falling to a surprise 3-1 defeat away at Mansfield on Tuesday. Before that, Michael Duff’s side looked as impressive as ever as they notched four consecutive wins, including a 1-0 win against fellow promotion chasers Cambridge United. The return of Liam Sercombe to the team will help Cheltenham alongside the in-form Alfie May and the general aerial threat that Duff’s back three presents will certainly leave the Robins feeling confident.
Exeter know that a win will possibly put them in the play-offs, but Cheltenham will want to maintain their place at the top of the league, and they’ll be hoping to repeat the 5-3 win they got in December against the Grecians.
WILDCARD – Sheffield Wednesday vs Norwich City (14th March – KO 12.15pm)
It has not been an ideal start to life at Hillsborough for Darren Moore, as his side suffered defeats against fellow relegation rivals Rotherham and a 3-0 beating at the hands of promotion chasing Reading. This extends Wednesday’s losing streak to six and this is something that Moore needs to address as soon as possible if they want to avoid relegation to League One. He will be looking towards the experience of Callum Patterson, Barry Bannan and Tom Lees to guide his team through this bad patch and push them into survival.
It won’t be easy however, as they take on league leaders Norwich City, who have put that miserable season in the Premier League behind them and proven that once again they are just a bit better than the Championship. Currently on a seven game winning streak, Daniel Farke has his team playing just like they did during the 18/19 season which saw them promoted to the Premier League, with the likes of Emi Buendia, Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki performing brilliantly.
Two sides on the opposite sides of the table, it would be a huge win for Darren Moore and Sheffield Wednesday if they can pull it off, but Norwich will be looking to move a step closer to the league title with a win against the strugglers.