By: Joe Brayne, Callum Sutherland, Jacob Findell, Isaac Stronge, Matthew Holmes and Steven Narloch
It’s derby day for Wigan as they travel to Preston looking to dislodge themselves from the bottom of the Championship, Salford look to end their recent struggles against an in-form Mansfield, and basement club Rochdale are in dire need of three precious points
Wigan Athletic face a grueling 30 minute drive up the M6 this Saturday, visiting Preston North End at Deepdale.
Shaun Maloney’s side are in impressive form; unbeaten in four since the former Latics winger was appointed as manager last month.
Despite this promising run of three draws and a win, Athletic are still propping up the Championship table, as fellow struggling teams have found similar form.
Last weekend saw a frustrating result for Wigan despite picking up a point and a clean sheet versus Norwich. Canaries keeper Angus Gunn repelled a persistent Latics attack, making six saves.
If results go the right way, a win for Wigan could see them climb out of the bottom three.
The die seems to be cast for strugglers Dale, as they remain firmly rooted at the bottom of League Two, but Crewe Alexandra may represent the ideal team to face given the trying circumstances.
Rochdale haven’t won since the start of the year, a 2-1 victory away at Bradford all the way back on January 10.
Back to back home games seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain some valuable points, but defeats against Gillingham and Stockport County have made an already difficult campaign all the more treacherous.
Crewe haven’t set the league alight, sitting in 18th, with only one win in five. If Rochdale have any chance of picking up a win, then it seems like a golden chance. But we’ve been saying that for weeks now.
Salford have been really struggling of late and are now in serious danger of falling out of the play-offs.
A 2-1 defeat to Swindon at the Peninsula Stadium on Saturday leaves Neil Wood’s side seventh, just one point ahead of a Bradford side with two games in hand on the Ammies.
The only silver lining is that Salford were unfortunate here, having been the better of the two sides throughout. Swindon had just three shots in the game, while the hosts missed a host of good chances.
This will be little comfort for Wood however, with a tough away game at fellow promotion chasers Mansfield coming up this weekend, followed in quick succession by another tricky away trip to Barrow.
Having now claimed one point from the last nine available, things may well get worse before they get better for the Ammies.
A return to form for Stockport County has seen them collect three wins in their last three games, the latter two without club captain and talisman, Paddy Madden.
There is no word yet on whether the Irishman will return to action this Saturday, when the Hatters welcome Stevenage to Edgeley Park.
County remain at the bottom of the play-off places, on goal-difference alone, with a slender 3 points separating fifth-placed Mansfield and ninth-placed Doncaster.
Stevenage, despite shaky recent form, arrive still sitting comfortably in second place, meaning the match may well turn out to be a crucial fixture in both teams promotion hopes.
Bolton face two mammoth fixtures this week, but talk has centred on a surprise stadium name change. Known by many as the iconic Reebok Stadium, the club announced on Sunday that their ground would move on from the University of Bolton Stadium to… *drum roll*… the Toughsheet Community Stadium.
As expected, Bolton’s deal with the local building manufacturer has gone down like a lead balloon with fans. Managing Director, Doug Mercer, admitted to Bolton News that the name was “a bit of schoolboy humour”. The comedic value has been lost, however, on fans who will be attending the Toughsheet Community Stadium for the next five years.
Glory in the aptly-named Papa John’s trophy awaits Bolton tonight. The Trotters travel to Accrington Stanley in search of a victory at the Wham Stadium that will earn them a rare cup final appearance. Ian Evatt’s men bested The Reds twice in 2022 and hope to continue their streak against a side battling relegation in League One.
Bolton return to League One action on Saturday when they welcome Port Vale to the ‘stadium that shall not be named’. A 1-0 loss on the road to Wycombe may have effectively ended hopes of an automatic promotion spot but play-off dreams remain tangible.
Meanwhile, Vale find themselves sliding down the table after losing three of their last five matches. The Valiants have won just three games against Bolton (out of forty), enduring barren spells over 1900-1987 and 1989-2017 against the Trotters.
It has been a wonderful week for The Robins who picked up two vital wins over teams firmly in the playoff positions. They go again this Saturday against Solihull Moors at the J Davidson Stadium.
It was looking a little doom and gloom this time last week following the home defeat to Bromley, but two successive wins have put a little more breathing room between Altrincham and the relegation places.
The latest match was an impressive 4-2 win away at Barnet on Tuesday evening. Twice Altrincham found themselves behind in the first half, before three goals in the second half brought the three points back to Moss Lane.
Ironically, if they can pick up another couple of wins, Alty will have one eye on the playoff positions themselves. Altrincham are currently eight points from the playoff places.
The visitors, coming from the West Midlands, is Solihull Moors. They are level on points with Altrincham, but sit one place above them due to a better goal difference.
The match earlier in the season at the ARMCO Arena finished 5-1 to Solihull, who blew away Altrincham on the day.