League One Preview: Gameweek 33

Steven Pressley

Steven Pressley

In League One, Coventry play their first match without manager Steven Pressley against MK Dons, who picked up an impressive win over Peterborough last time out. Likewise, Oldham have their first game without Lee Johnson, as they host in-form Preston. Doncaster look to recover from back-to-back defeats when they play relegation threatened Colchester, who have shown signs of life lately, after victory over league leaders Bristol City.

Coventry v MK Dons

Coventry City have sacked their manager, Steven Pressley. On the one hand, he deserves a degree of sympathy, because losing 6 key players in the space of a year will not have made his job easy. On the other hand, he did not necessarily help himself with his approach. Few of his signings have made an impact at the club, and he was tactically very stubborn. He persisted with encouraging his centre-backs to play out from the back, even when this contributed to a lot of the goals Coventry conceded. He rarely made substitutions which changed a match, only Crewe Alexandra and Notts County have scored fewer 2nd half goals than the Sky Blues. MK Dons, by contrast, have scored 41 2nd half goals this season, more than any other side in League One. The speed in this Dons side often comes to the fore towards the end of games, when play becomes more stretched. Although in this match they will be without the injured Dele Alli, they have recently signed another energetic, young, goalscoring midfielder in Lewis Baker, who has joined on loan from Chelsea. This blog will back MK Dons to record a comfortable victory.

Doncaster v Colchester

Doncaster played surprisingly poorly in their 3-0 defeat at Port Vale a week ago. They had most of the possession in that match, yet they lacked natural width in their play, they moved the ball too slowly, and carried very little goalscoring threat. At the other end, they suffered from defensive naivety and goalkeeping errors. For the first goal, the opposing left winger found himself in the box, in acres of space, when the game was still 0-0 just 7 minutes in. Keeper Stephen Bywater also made a couple of mistakes, which was not to be expected from the Millwall loanee who, prior to that match, had kept 4 clean sheets in 7 games. It was a bad day all round for Rovers, and Paul Dickov will certainly be hoping that that game was merely an anomaly, rather than a sign of things to come. Colchester have picked up 6 points from their last 3 games, and got an impressive 3-2 win over league leaders Bristol City on Saturday. In the past, this blog has criticized Colchester for a lack of experience in defensive areas, but there are certain advantages to having a young team. Namely, Colchester always start games at a high tempo. This has been rewarded with 8 goals in the first 15 minutes of matches this season, only Bristol City and Swindon have scored more often in this period. By contrast, Doncaster are often slow starters, they have conceded 10 goals in the first fifteen minutes of matches, more than any other side in the division. With Colchester on a high, don’t be surprised to see them come out of the starting blocks early at the Keepmoat.

Oldham v Preston

Oldham manager Lee Johnson has recently left the club, in favour of a move to fellow League One club Barnsley. From their perspective, that is a good appointment, and the compact nature of League One dictates that a late play-off push may be a realistic aim for the Tykes. However, Oldham will be disappointed to lose arguably one of the best young managers in the Football League, and they will now begin the recruitment process. There are rumours that Paul Scholes, a lifelong Latics fan, will be offered the job. Although that might please the fans, you would question whether Scholes has enough charisma to succeed as a manager. During his career as a player, he relied very much on his own technical ability, rather than his willingness to lead and instruct others, which is a key facet of management. It may be better for Oldham to give the job to caretaker manager Dean Holden until the end of the season, and reconsider when there are more options available. Over the last month, Preston North End have benefitted from the return of Joe Garner from injury, but we have also seen their defence improve. The Lilywhites have won each of their last 4 games without conceding, thanks partially to some good saves from goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who has joined on loan from Manchester United. The Oldham players may be disappointed to have lost their manager, so this blog will back Preston to continue their winning streak.