Saturday 28 February ~
With less than three months of the season remaining, this weekend's League One fixtures see a series of crucial clashes for clubs at the top and bottom of the table. The least popular club in the lower leagues, MK Dons, welcome leaders Leicester City to the Stadium MK looking to remain ahead of Peterborough, who pulled to within a point of their automatic promotion spot on Tuesday night. As for Leicester, the Foxes are currently flying along, 12 points clear at the League One summit and looking odds-on to gain promotion having lost just twice in the League this season.
They returned to winning ways last weekend with victory at Bristol Rovers following three consecutive draws and are unbeaten in the League since the end of October. Leicester have the better of the head-to-head between the two sides, having won eight of the previous 15 matches, including this season's League meeting 2-0 at the Walkers Stadium on the opening day of the season. It's fourth against fifth at the New Den as Millwall host Oldham Athletic, as both teams look to continue their push for the play-offs, while seventh-placed Leeds United will overtake their visitors Scunthorpe United with a victory at Elland Road.
At the bottom, things will be no less intense as six clubs battling relegation face each other. Propping up the table and on a winless streak of 11 games stretching back to mid-December, Cheltenham Town host 18th-placed Northampton Town in desperate need of a victory to kick-start their fight for survival. Cash-strapped Cheltenham have slipped away from the pack and sit rooted to the bottom of the table, six points from Hereford and 12 away from safety, with a far inferior goal difference. Their beleaguered manager Martin Allen hasn't given up hope and insists the players won't either: “One win can generate a great positive atmosphere amongst the players, the supporters will really get behind these players and who knows then what could happen. It's getting the one. Psychologically, getting the one is the key.”
Hereford United in 23rd take on Leyton Orient, who themselves continue to flirt with the relegation, only one point from the danger zone and having played more games than the teams below them. The O's do have a useful away record, though, with the majority of their 33 points coming on the road, five wins and five draws. Brighton occupy the last spot in the relegation zone but victory over 22nd-placed Crewe Alexandra could haul them out if other results go their way. The Seagulls parted company with manager Mickey Adams last Saturday, his second reign as manager having lasted less than a year – he took control in May 2008. Adams led Brighton to the old Third Division title in his first spell at the club between 1999 and 2001. On bidding farewell to the Withdean for presumably the last time, Adams became the fifth managerial casualty of clubs in this season's bottom seven teams.
Crewe are one point behind Brighton and on a remarkable turnaround in fortune since the appointment of Gudjon Thordarson. In December, they were adrift at the bottom of the table and facing an uphill fight to stay up, having won just 3 games before Christmas. Two months down the line and after an impressive 18 points from 27 available and Alexandra are back in touch with their relegation rivals. Chris Hill