Good Friday has come and gone and we look forward to Easter Monday. In footballing terms not much has changed. The top four all won - so we are as we were, only with a game less to play.
Portsmouth were perhaps the day’s biggest winners, securing three points with a late goal that had the look of both offside and handball about it. However, Matt Clarke’s stoppage time goal saw Pompey overcome a very good Burton side and keep the pressure on Sunderland and Barnsley.
The sides in second and third had fairly routine wins, with Barnsley running out 2-1 winners and Sunderland beating Doncaster 2-0. Both games, on paper, suggested they would be close, but in the end both sides were comfortable.
Luton Town coasted to a 3-0 win over ten man Accrington Stanley after Stanley keeper Dimitar Evtimov was sent off for two bookable offences.
Charlton, in fifth, suffered defeat at Oxford United in another game we thought would be tight. The home side edged the contest 2-1 and effectively ended any hopes Charlton had of reaching second spot.
And so, the league table remains as close as ever and it’s anyone’s guess who will claim second place. Perhaps this round of games may provide a clue. We preview the top five below.
12:30 Portsmouth vs Coventry City
Portsmouth start the Easter Monday programme in the early kick-off against Coventry City.
Six wins on the bounce means Portsmouth have hit form just at the right time and entertain Coventry full of confidence. A controversial, late winner at Burton kept the pressure on both Barnsley and Sunderland, and Kenny Jackett will aim to do exactly the same at home.
Coventry have recorded four wins, two draws and a defeat in their last six matches. That run has seen them secure victories at both Sunderland and Peterborough, leave Oakwell with a draw, and relegate Bradford City.
Mark Robins’ side sit five points off the final Play-Off spot with three games to play, so anything less than a win on the south coast will end any lingering hopes of promotion this season.
15:00: Plymouth Argyle vs Barnsley
With home wins over Fleetwood and Shrewsbury secured, the Tykes take to the road once more. The last time they played away from Oakwell they came unstuck at Burton, losing 3-1 to Nigel Clough’s side. That defeat arrived on the back of three draws in their previous four games and had led a few commentators wondering whether Daniel Stendel’s side had thrown away their chance of automatic promotion.
With the firm response of six points from their last two games, and the return to action for striker Kieffer Moore, Barnsley travel the long distance south in search of another three points.
Having lost to both Doncaster and Charlton already in April and not having tasted victory since mid-March, Plymouth may struggle to stop Barnsley taking the maximum haul. Sitting just two points above relegation, the Pilgrims will have to dig deep to prevent Barnsley consolidating their position of second in League One with just two weeks of the season left.
PREDICTION: Away Win
15:00 Peterborough United vs Sunderland
Sunderland recovered from the defeat against Coventry to record a comprehensive 2-0 win over Play-Off hopefuls Doncaster. The surprise return of Aiden McGeady inspired Jack Ross’ side to play on the front foot and all but secure the points by half-time.
As on Good Friday, Sunderland will start the game against Peterborough knowing how rivals Portsmouth have got on against Coventry. That may work in their favour, but with Barnsley kicking off at Plymouth at the same time Sunderland must approach this as another must-win game.
Peterborough’s run of form has been mixed of late. A draw on Friday away at Fleetwood ended their run of three wins on the bounce. However, prior to that mini-run, they had suffered three successive defeats, which may leave fans scratching their heads as to which team turns up today.
Sunderland will know that anything less than a win at this stage of the season will hand a huge advantage to their promotion rivals. With three wins from their last four games at the ABAX Stadium, though, Peterborough will not give up the points easily.
PREDICTION: Away win
15:00: Charlton Athletic vs Scunthorpe United
Charlton’s first defeat in twelve games at Oxford on Good Friday may have caused Lee Bowyer to mentally concede in the race for second place. Whilst not mathematically beyond them, Barnsley’s win against Shrewsbury means Charlton ended the day six points adrift of the automatic promotion spot with three games remaining. With Sunderland’s game in hand, that could extend to seven.
Charlton now focus on their home game with Scunthorpe United. The Iron’s record of four defeats and two draws in the last month suggests Bowyer can target three points today to help The Addicks bounce back. Regaining confidence going into the final fortnight of the season will be paramount if Charlton are to enter the Play-Offs in the right frame of mind.
PREDICTION: Home Win
17:30: Luton Town vs AFC Wimbledon
AFC Wimbledon’s third successive draw on Good Friday against Bristol Rovers means the Wombles have only six points from their past five games. Occupying the final relegation place and one point adrift of Scunthorpe United, the trip to Kenilworth Road is a daunting one for Wally Downes’ side.
Luton recovered from drawing against Blackpool and losing to Charlton earlier in April by securing a 3-0 victory over Accrington Stanley on Saturday. Results over the Easter weekend left Luton needing 95 points to guarantee promotion; 96 points to guarantee the title. Three more today would leave them with just one win away.
PREDICTION: Home Win
Do you agree with our predictions or do you see things panning out another way? Will the table on Tuesday evening resemble the image below?
Leave us your thoughts below! Visit us again as we preview Saturday’s key games later in the week.