League One Preview: Gameweek 41

Gboly Ariyibi

Gboly Ariyibi

In League One, Chesterfield will stay in the play-off places with a win over Crewe, who are just 2 points above the relegation zone. Crawley’s impressive resurgence will continue if they take 3 points at home to Oldham, although the Latics picked up a credible draw against Bristol City last time out. At Meadow Lane, there is an all-Midlands affair as a Notts County side with the worst home record in League One, host Coventry City, who look for a 4th consecutive away victory.

Chesterfield v Crewe

Chesterfield have won 6 out of their last 8 games. The 4 straight defeats over the February period suggested that the January loss of Eoin Doyle would be hard-hitting, however, they have recovered well, and now look perhaps a stronger team without their top scorer. The Spireites came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Yeovil on Good Friday, and Paul Cook’s half-time substitutions paid dividends in that match. Jay O’Shea made a significant impact, scoring twice, but the arrival of Gboly Ariyibi added extra width to the team, which diversified Chesterfield’s threat and stretched Yeovil’s defence. In fact, from the 9 occassions in which Ariyibi has come off the bench this season, Chesterfield have subsequently scored a total of 10 goals. The team possesses a lot of talented ball-players in midfield, but they need players around them who make runs into wide areas, to allow them an extra yard of space, and in that sense Ariyibi plays a valuable role. Chesterfield will be hoping that visiting side Crewe Alexandra, who made a similar journey 9 days ago in a trip to play Sheffield United, do not enjoy a similar result. 20-year-old Ryan Colclough caught the eye when he came on in Crewe’s 2-1 win at Bramall Lane, scoring the 90th minute winner. Colclough’s impact perhaps highlights the attacking depth Crewe have, in comparison with their relegation rivals. Although loanees Nicky Ajose and Uche Ikpeazu are currently out of form, Steve Davis does have alternative options: Marcus Haber possesses physical prowess, while Lauri Dalla Valle has talent that once attracted the scouts of Liverpool. It will be hard for any team to disrupt Chesterfield’s momentum, but Crewe will push them all the way.

Crawley v Oldham

Crawley have won 5 out of their last 10 games and have given themselves a chance of survival. However, in contrast to Crewe who have numerous strikers available, the Red Devils are solely reliant on the form of Izale McLeod, the 30-year-old having scored 17 of the team’s 44 goals this season. Oldham Athletic are slowly adjusting to life without Lee Johnson as manager, and after a 1-1 draw with runaway leaders Bristol City, they have picked up 7 points from their last 4. Those 4 games have directly coincided with Joel Coleman, who came through the club’s youth academy, making his first 4 starts for the club, and he has conceded just 3 goals, with 18 shots on target against him. Coleman looks a very exciting prospect for Oldham, and the fact that manager Dean Holden has trusted him with a run of games after having had no first team experience, in itself, says a lot about his ability. Oldham have also benefited from the return to full fitness of defender Adam Lockwood, and the loan signing of Anthony Gerrard from Huddersfield. If the Lactics can keep the aforementioned trio in place, we can expect them to be a very sturdy outfit.

Notts County v Coventry

Notts County’s awful run of form has recently led to manager Shaun Derry losing his job. The majority of County fans wanted to see Derry succeed, as a passionate man who had come through the club’s youth academy and did so well keeping them up last season. However, he lacked the calmness that is often needed from a manager. Derry made too many panicked, short-term signings, and had a tendency to drop a player after the occasional bad game, when the better coaches usually have a more level-headed approach. However, there has been 7 managers in the last 5 years at Meadow Lane, and one might argue that a degree of stability is needed. Another Midlands club who have recently changed their manager is Coventry City. While the Sky Blues are still struggling for results at the Ricoh Arena, they have won their last 3 games away from home. When Coventry play at the Ricoh, there is a palpable sense of negativity and apathy among supporters. You wonder if it now benefits them playing on the road, when the players are able to treat the match in a clear-minded, professional way, without focusing so much on the crippling off-field situation that the club is in. Notts County have fallen into the relegation zone after a run of just 3 wins in 23 games, and this blog predicts a 4th straight away win for Coventry.