Cheltenham v Northampton preview
Sun, 31 Mar 2013 19:04:00
Atletico Madrid were unable to leapfrog Real Madrid into second spot as they were held by Valencia.
A 1-1 draw in the Vicente Calderon stadium was not enough to move above their city rivals as Valencia produced a spirited display to keep their own Champions League hopes alive.
Jonas surprised the home side inside five minutes but Radamel Falcao promptly beat the offside trap at the other end to stab the ball home and restore parity within a minute.
Despite home pressure after the break, that's how it stayed and the result leaves Atletico a point behind Real with Valencia just a point outside the top four themselves.
Earlier on Sunday, bottom-club Deportivo La Coruna recorded back-to-back victories for the first time this season after a narrow win over fellow strugglers Real Mallorca.
Victor Casadesus gave Gregorio Manzano's side the lead but a wonderful goal from Silvio put Deportivo back on level terms before the break.
Veteran defender Carlos Marchena gave the visitors the lead early in the second half and Riki extended the advantage, before Alfaro scored late on to set up a tense finish. But Deportivo held on to keep their hopes of survival alive with the Galician side now just four points from safety.
Osasuna were another side whose hopes of avoiding relegation were handed a huge boost after they came from a goal down to win at Valladolid in fine fashion.
An own goal by Ruben gave the hosts an early lead but two goals by Kike Sola within 10 minutes after half-time put Jose Mendilibar's side ahead. Miguel De Las Cuevas then scored his first goal for the club to make sure of the points and lift Osasuna seven points clear of the drop zone.
Elsewhere, Real Sociedad's hopes of a Champions League place suffered a setback as they were held to a draw at Espanyol. In fact, they left the Cornella-El Prat grateful for a point after Javi Lopez's own-goal inside the final quarter of an hour denied the hosts all three points.
It was the second time Sociedad had come from behind in the match, David Zurutuza scoring either side of strikes from Sergio Garcia and Christian Stuani in an eventful first half.
Sociedad remain in fourth but are now just a point clear of Malaga in fifth as the race for the final Champions League spot heats up.
The Italian, who left Swindon in February, will take charge from Monday morning as the replacement for Martin O'Neill who was sacked on Saturday after the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United.
Chairman Ellis Short said: "Paolo is hugely enthused by the challenge that lies ahead of him. He is passionate, driven and raring to get started.
"The sole focus of everyone for the next seven games will be to ensure we gain enough points to maintain our top-flight status.
"I think that the chances of that are greatly increased with Paolo joining us.
"Our fans have shown tremendous patience and understanding this season.
"They have continued to back the team in huge numbers, both home and away, and that is something that continues to inspire all of us in our drive to give them the successful club they deserve.
"That remains our primary aim."
The Sunderland job is only Di Canio's second in management after his spell at Swindon and he was a big success in Wiltshire, guiding the Robins to promotion to League One.
Di Canio, 44, played for Lazio, Juventus, Napoli and AC Milan before making a move to Britain where he played for Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton.
Within minutes of Di Canio's appointment, David Miliband announced he has resigned from his role as vice-chairman and non-executive director of the club due to Di Canio's "past political statements".
Within seven games of the Premier League season left Sunderland are just one point above the relegation zone.
The evening started well for the Bavarians when Nikola Djurdjic headed them in front in the second minute, but goals from Takashi Inui, Stefan Aigner and Alexander Meier turned the game around.
Sercan Sararer brought Furth back to within a goal, but they were unable to find an equaliser as they remain rooted to the foot of the Bundesliga, 14 points from safety with seven games left.
Frankfurt are now fifth, level on points with fourth-placed Schalke and still in the hunt for a place in the Champions League next season.
Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking saw his side relinquish a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw against former club Nurnberg.
Diego and Ivica Olic had put the Wolves into a commanding position, but Nurnberg mounted a spirited comeback to take a share of the spoils thanks to second-half goals by Timmy Simons and Per Nilsson.
On-loan midfielder Adam Reed is expected to make his home debut for the Minstermen against their relegation rivals.
Reed, drafted in from Sunderland last week, made his first appearance for the club in Saturday's goalless draw at Bristol Rovers.
Striker Michael Coulson could make his first start since damaging knee ligaments in October.
Coulson returned as a second-half substitute on Saturday and is set to be involved again.
Teenager Tom Platt is hoping to retain his place, but fellow midfielder Scott Kerr remains doubtful with a calf strain.
Defender Lanre Oyebanjo returned on Saturday after missing the previous four games due to a calf injury, while centre-half Chris Doig is hoping to shake off a knock.
City - three points from safety with five games remaining - are chasing their first win in 17 league games in a bid to escape an instant return to the Blue Square Bet Premier Division.
Pilgrims boss John Sheridan is hoping Saturday's goal hero Jason Banton will be fit to feature on Easter Monday.
Banton scored a brilliant solo goal in first-half stoppage time as Sheridan's side overcame Devon rivals Exeter City 1-0 in front of League Two's biggest gate of the season, 13,251, at Home Park.
The on-loan Crystal Palace forward. who has now scored six goals in 11 games since joining Plymouth, was substituted after 72 minutes.
"Jason hasn't trained all week," Sheridan said. "He has had a bit of a stiff back. We will just have to assess him. It might be a case of changing one or two because we have got a long trip and we had a very hard game against Exeter. Whoever comes in I expect them to fill the boots of the player they replace."
Anthony Charles and Warren Feeney are set to miss out again while midfielder Lee Cox (shoulder) is an injury doubt. He was replaced by Luke Young at half time against Exeter and will be assessed ahead of the clash with a City side four points below the Pilgrims.
Gulls manager Alan Knill has a selection dilemma at left-back for the Easter Monday encounter.
Former Arsenal youngster Tom Cruise is available again having served his one-match ban for the red card he picked up against York.
But his place in the side was taken by long-serving defender Kevin Nicholson in the 1-0 loss at Northampton, leaving Knill with a decision to make.
Scot Craig Easton is sidelined again with a calf injury while Billy Bodin and Nathan Craig are pushing for starts should Knill decide to freshen things up after the long Friday night trip to Sixfields.
Strike duo Rene Howe and Elliot Benyon looked lively once more against the promotion-chasing Cobblers and they are set to continue their partnership upfront.
Torquay sit four points above the relegation zone having lost just one of their last five games.
Bantams striker Nahki Wells could return to the starting line-up.
Wells has started among the substitutes in the last four matches, but set up the equaliser for James Hanson in Friday's home draw with Southend after stepping off the bench and is pushing for a recall.
Midfielder Ricky Ravenhill recovered from a shin injury to start against Southend, but Nathan Doyle and Will Atkinson could come into contention if manager Phil Parkinson wants to add some fresh legs for a second game in four days.
Matt Duke is hoping to return in place of Jon McLaughlin as Parkinson continues to rotate his goalkeepers, while defenders Carl McHugh and Michael Nelson are also pushing for recalls.
Bradford are chasing their first league win in four games on the road as they bid to keep their outside play-off hopes alive.
Shrimps boss Jim Bentley hopes to have top scorer Jack Redshaw available from the start on Easter Monday.
A groin problem restricted Redshaw to bench duty against Oxford but the former Manchester City youngster came on to fire his 16th goal of the season in stoppage time and secure a 1-1 draw.
Chris Holroyd is the man most likely to make way to accommodate Redshaw.
Will Haining's recovery from a hamstring injury to complete 90 minutes handed an unexpected boost to Bentley at centre-back against the U's.
But it remains a problem position for them, and Bentley must assess Andy Parrish (thigh) and will be without the experienced Nick Fenton (calf).
Chairboys goalkeeper Matt Ingram is expected to line up in goal again, having made his professional bow on Friday.
The youngster's big day was spoilt by Accrington's late winner at Adams Park but the club's youth product looks set to retain his place as Gareth Ainsworth's men look for the three points he believes will secure League Two football for another season.
Ingram was handed his debut because Tottenham recalled keeper Jordan Archer from his loan spell in the build up to kick-off on Friday to provide back up to Brad Friedel after an injury to Hugo Lloris.
Archer had made 29 appearances this season for Ainsworth's side before returning to White Hart Lane.
QPR loanee Bruno Andrade returned to the matchday squad after injury and the winger is pushing for a start,while Leon Johnson and Marvin McCoy will hope to keep their places after being recalled to the starting XI.
The hosts are almost at full-strength as they look to take another step towards promotion.
Saturday's 2-2 draw away at Fleetwood leaves Martin Allen's side six points clear at the top and 10 points ahead of fourth-placed Burton.
Their game against fellow promotion-hopefuls Rotherham will have to be navigated without the services of Andy Frampton, who serves the final game of his three-match ban.
The only other worry is midfielder Charlie Lee, who missed Saturday's game through illness and will be assessed.
Allen handed a rare start to Callum Davies at the weekend and, despite impressing, he is likely to return to the bench with Steven Gregory restored to the midfield.
Adam Birchall was also given the nod at Fleetwood but he will face competition from Deon Burton and Weston for his place in the attack.
Millers boss Steve Evans could name an unchanged side for Easter Monday's crunch promotion tie.
Evans' side did their hopes of pinching a top-three spot the world of good on Good Friday when they beat AFC Wimbledon and he could keep the faith.
Evans made four changes for the Dons match as he handed starts to Joe Skarz, Scott Shearer, Kari Arnason and Daniel Kearns and all four are expected to keep their shirt.
It was Shearer's first start in goal since October following knee and elbow injuries, so he may just be monitored ahead of kick-off.
Right-back Mark Bradley is their only absentee as he battles a broken foot.
Rotherham are currently four points adrift of third-placed Northampton with a game in hand.
The hosts could be without influential midfielder Tommy Doherty after the 34-year-old's return to action lasted just 45 minutes.
The former Bradford man was recalled to the starting line-up for the first time in almost a month against local rivals Plymouth but his persistent back injury forced his withdrawal at the interval.
If the Grecians are without Doherty, who was arguably their stand out performer in the first half at Home Park, again it would be a real blow for manager Paul Tisdale, who is already without many of his midfield regulars.
Matt Oakley (shoulder), Liam Sercombe and Alan Gow (both ankle) will all be missing as Exeter look to bounce back from defeat to their fiercest rivals on Saturday.
That loss left City five points off the automatic promotion places ahead of the clash with a Dale side they beat 3-2 at Spotland back in December.
The visitors must prepare for their Easter Monday trip after learning midfielder Andrew Tutte will miss the remainder of the season with a knee problem.
Tutte initially suffered the injury during Dale's 2-1 defeat to Bristol Rovers earlier this month and, despite an impressive initial recovery, he jarred the knee in training on Thursday.
The resulting cartilage damage has been judged severe enough to require surgery and Tutte will go under the knife on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, Terry Gornell (groin) is likely to miss out once more, leaving George Donnelly to continue his recent resurgence in attack.
Ritchie Jones (ankle) will add to Keith Hill's selection concerns if he cannot recover in time, while Rhys Bennett (knee) and Reece Gray (broken leg) are long-term absentees.
The hosts have no new injury problems. Caretaker boss Wayne Burnett handed three players their Daggers debuts during the weekend's goalless draw against Barnet.
Barnsley winger Toni Silva and Tottenham goalkeeper Jonathan Miles were handed starts while QPR midfielder Mo Sharif came off the bench in the second half.
All three could make their home debuts on Easter Monday as Burnett's side look to end a run of four games without a win.
Defensive duo Peter Gilbert and Jonathan Fortune are looking to make their first appearances for the club after joining before the loan deadline, but both are likely to have to settle for a place on the bench.
Striker Sam Williams (knee) remains sidelined while keeper Chris Lewington (back) is a major doubt.
John-Joe O'Toole will play for the Pirates for the last time before heading back to Colchester.
The 24-year-old, who has been reunited with former manager John Ward for the last three months, has been a big hit since joining on loan on New Year's Eve but will return to his parent club after the clash with the Daggers.
Elsewhere, Fabian Broghammer is likely to be involved again having returned to the matchday squad on Saturday after injury and he could be handed a start if Ward decides to freshen things up.
Winger Joe Anyinsah made his comeback from a hamstring problem to take Jim Paterson's place in midfield for the 0-0 draw with York on Saturday and the former Charlton man will hope to have kept his place.
Spireites manager Paul Cook could include Armand Gnanduillet in his starting XI on Easter Monday.
The striker came on for the last five minutes of Saturday's win over Burton having missed the last three weeks with an abductor problem. He is now vying for a return to the starting line-up but may have to settle for a place on the bench.
Craig Clay (hernia) was an unused substitute on Saturday and could feature in this home encounter.
Defender Sam Hird is pushing for a start after he was dropped to the bench at the weekend.
Left-back Nathan Smith will miss the remainder of the season after breaking a bone in his foot during the win at Oxford on March 16.
Valiants boss Micky Adams is expected to be without striker Lee Hughes.
The veteran forward was taken off in the 12th minute of Friday's 3-2 victory over Cheltenham after picking up a hamstring injury.
Ben Williamson came on to replace Hughes, and he will battle it out with Calvin Andrew for a starting berth alongside 30-goal striker Tom Pope should Hughes have to sit out.
Captain Doug Loft is likely to come back into the squad, while defenders Richard Duffy (virus) and Darren Purse (calf) could return to the starting line-up.
Midfielder Sam Morsy is in contention to make his return from suspension while winger Ashley Vincent (ankle) remains out.
Byron Harrison is pushing for a start after the Robins striker made a big impact after being sent on at half-time of their 3-2 defeat to Port Vale on Friday and put in a display described by manager Mark Yates as his best for the club since joining.
Sam Deering was also introduced as a second-half substitute after being replaced in the starting line-up by Jason Taylor.
Keith Lowe and Darren Carter are also pushing for starts should Yates decide to freshen up his starting line-up against a side three points ahead of his side.
New signing Jack Deaman, borrowed from Birmingham on Thursday, didn't make the bench at Vale Park but did make the journey to support his team-mates and he could be involved in the matchday squad.
Cobblers boss Aidy Boothroyd will once again be without captain Kelvin Langmead for the Easter Monday encounter.
The defender underwent knee surgery last week and remains out while he continues his recovery. Lee Collins stood in for Langmead during Friday's 1-0 win over Torquay and he is likely to deputise once more.
Striker Clive Platt, who was taken off at half-time on Saturday as a precaution, will start up front once again.
Boothroyd believes his side cannot drop points against their promotion rivals.
He told the club's official website: "Cheltenham are a very good, strong side, they beat us 3-2 at Sixfields which shows you their resilience.
"We will go there with real confidence and we've just got to make sure we come away with something.
"A point would be good but three would be brilliant."