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League One Review: December

It’s been an interesting month in the third tier, with the gap between the teams at the top and the teams in the middle narrowing with each passing week.

Gillingham v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Andrew Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Wycombe on the wobble?

Despite building up a huge gap between themselves and the play-off spots in early December, Gareth Ainsworth’s side have really hit the buffers as the head into the new year.

A 2-0 win over Burton Albion had put the Chairboys eight points clear of third placed Peterborough, but a miserable Christmas period has cut their lead at the top to a mere three points as the heat turns up on the division’s surprise package.

Following the win over Burton, December saw Wanderers lose their next three, conceding a total of seven goals and scoring just one - a consolation coming in a heavy 4-1 home defeat to Coventry City. It doesn’t get any easier either in January, as they face three away trips to Peterborough, Sunderland and Coventry. Ouch.

Wycombe Wanderers v Tranmere Rovers - FA Cup First Round Replay Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Rotherham jump into automatic promotion spots

Despite being one of the pre-season promotion favourites, a mediocre start from the Millers had taken attention away from Paul Warne’s side, but they have jumped into the automatic promotion spots after a positive festive period.

Despite starting the month with two poor results, namely a defeat to Rochdale and draw at relegation certainties Southend, impressive wins at Shrewsbury on Boxing Day and a 4-0 thrashing of promotion contenders Peterborough has taken Warne’s side to second, just three points behind leaders Wycombe.

The true test of Rotherham’s automatic promotion credentials will come in the new year however, as 2020 opens with tough games against Oxford, Peterborough, Bristol Rovers and Ipswich Town.

Rotherham United v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League One - AESSEAL New York Stadium Photo by Richard Sellers/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Ipswich come unstuck

Much like Wycombe, the Tractor Boys came into December looking to increase the gap at the top, but ended the month barely clinging onto a play-off spot after a horrendous run of results.

In fact, Paul Lambert’s side haven’t picked up maximum points since a 1-0 win over Rochdale on November 5th, picking up four draws and suffering three defeats in their last seven games in League One.

Their December form that showed huge cause for concern, with Bristol Rovers and Portsmouth taking all three points in the early part of the month, before Lambert’s side laboured to a 0-0 draw at home to Gillingham.

Perhaps most concerning for Ipswich fans was the 5-3 mauling at the hands of relegation threatened Lincoln City however, as the Tractor Boys crumbled at Sincil Bank.

Lambert will be hoping for home improvements as he faces Accrington Stanley and Tranmere Rovers in early 2020.

Ipswich Town v Lincoln City - FA Cup: 1st Round Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Undefeated Gills

Despite losing their two key players Tom Eaves and Tomas Holy in the summer, Steve Evans Gillingham are proving a dark horse for the play-offs following an undefeated December that saw them climb to 11th in League One - just four points behind sixth placed Peterborough.

The Gills were one of only three sides to escape December with an unblemished record, picking up victories over Rochdale, MK and, of course, Sunderland.

They’ve been defensively resolute to and ended the festive month with the best defensive record in the division, conceding only two goals across five games.

Whilst many Gillingham fans were expecting this season to be a period of transition, the mood on Priestfield is that maybe, just maybe, they can have a crack at promotion - and on this form, no-one can blame them.

Fleetwood Town v Gillingham - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stephen White - CameraSport via Getty Images