League Two Preview: 27th August 2011

After heroic cup performances on Tuesday and Wednesday night by some League Two sides, it’s back to the bread and butter of the league for another big weekend to round off the first month of the season. This week’s spotlight falls on Plymouth’s home game with Crewe while you can find a full preview of the Cobblers’ home game with Morecambe here.

SPOTLIGHT ON…Plymouth Argyle v Crewe Alexandra…

Last Season: n/a

There’s not usually such a high stakes game this early in the season but for Plymouth and Crewe there’s such a need for something to cheer about that both will be desperate to add to the others’ woes this weekend.

Argyle’s problems have rolled over from last season with a bid from Gibralter based firm Bishop International still to be finalised with the funds still not granted by the company that would buy Home Park and the surrounding land in a move that would then clear the club’s debts. That would allow Peter Risdale to own the Pilgrims but the £6 million needed has still not arrived at time of writing.

Some Argyle fans have arranged a vigil and a march that concludes this Saturday ahead of the game against Crewe with a planned march taking them from the city centre up to Home Park and are appealing for football fans of any team to head down to show their support (for more info, this is your best link).

On the pitch, Plymouth have lost another player with Stephane Zubar quitting the club this week and results have matched the on-going saga off the pitch with just one point gained so far. That was on the opening day at the season in a 1-1 draw at Shrewsbury Town but since then it’s been three defeats on the bounce with just one more goal scored.

With other matters more important though, the focus for Argyle fans will be on events outside of Home Park before this one and having a team to support at all puts any result in the shadows.

As for Crewe, they’ve started the season with four defeats in a row and haven’t found the net away from home in their two games on the road so far. Swindon, Gillingham and Rotherham had already taken three points from the Alex before last Saturday’s 2-0 reverse at Shrewsbury left them with no points from four games

Dario Gradi, the Godfather of the Football League, has a massive task on his hands to turn his teams’ fortunes around but the departure of last season’s League Two top scorer Clayton Donaldson won’t have helped the cause. The ethos of developing younger players won’t ever change under Gradi and one of the ever growing number of players to come through the ranks, Shaun Miller, is the man trying to fill Donaldson’s boots.

Miller has been with the club since 1995 and had his best goal scoring season to date last season with nineteen in the league, a tally that he’ll need to at least match if the Alex are to push on from their tenth place finish last term.

With just one point collected between these sides and the emotions that will be running through the surroundings at Home Park, it’s set to be a memorable occasion whatever the outcome.

Elsewhere in League Two…

Accrington Stanley v Burton Albion

Last Season: Accrington Stanley 3-1 Burton Albion

Hammered by Port Vale last weekend, Stanley need a win to get back on track but come up against an improved and unbeaten Burton side who added Torquay striker Billy Kee to their squad this week for an undisclosed fee ahead of the closure of the transfer window.

Bradford City v Barnet

Last Season: Bradford City 1-3 Barnet

The shock resignation of Peter Jackson this week means that the Bantams are managerless again as they aim for a first win of the season. They face Barnet, who had to endure extra time on Tuesday night before going out of the Carling Cup at Burnley. There’s been four goals in each of the Bees’ last three league games so expect a high scoring contest again at Valley Parade, where Barnet were victors last season.

Bristol Rovers v Hereford United

Last Season: n/a

Rovers were one of the teams to upset the odds on Tuesday with a penalty shoot-out victory over Championship side Watford at the Memorial Stadium. Meanwhile opponents Hereford pushed Aston Villa all the way before eventually going out by a respectable 2-0 margin. The Bulls only got their first league point last week at AFC Wimbledon though and will face a tough challenge in the search for their first win.

Cheltenham Town v Crawley Town

Last Season: n/a

Last weekend saw Cheltenham come to Sixfields and put in a fine performance to see off the Cobblers, coming from 2-1 down to win 3-2 thanks to former Cobbler Josh Low. They’ll be buoyant going into the game with new leaders Crawley who rose to the top of the table following a 3-1 win at Torquay a week ago.

Dagenham and Redbridge v Torquay United

Last Season: n/a

The Daggers have recorded back to back 1-0 victories and go into the game with Torquay flying but the Gulls will be hoping to bounce back quickly from that Crawley defeat which was their first of the season in the league.

Macclesfield Town v AFC Wimbledon

Last Season: n/a

After pushing Bolton all the way in the Carling Cup on Wednesday night, Macclesfield host AFC Wimbledon who have had a week’s rest in preparation for this one. After a slow start, the Silkmen have improved with four points from the last two games and haven’t conceded in either. Meanwhile, the Wombles are in seventh having bagged seven points from three games.

Oxford United v Aldershot Town

Last Season: Oxford United 0-1 Aldershot Town

Ten man Aldershot won at the Kassam last season but have only one victory to their name this time out and that was on the opening day of the season. They’ll be jubilant after beating West Ham in the Carling Cup on Tuesday but take on an in form Oxford side that are coming in off the back of a fine 2-1 win in the A420 derby on Sunday afternoon.

Port Vale v Southend United

Last Season: Port Vale 1-1 Southend United

Luke Prosser nicked an injury time goal for Southend at Vale Park back in April as Vale slipped further away from the playoff places. The home side are unbeaten coming into this one though and hammered Accrington 4-1 in their last match. Southend, meanwhile, have started the season as they ended the last one – inconsistently – with two wins and two defeats so far.

Rotherham United v Gillingham

Last Season: Rotherham 0-1 Gillingham

Two sides that fell away from the playoff picture at the vital moments last season come face to face at the Don Valley Stadium. Rotherham’s flying start to this campaign was halted slightly last weekend with a 2-2 home draw with Barnet while Gillingham joined them on ten points with a comfortable 3-0 home win against Plymouth Argyle. Both teams are unbeaten going into this one so a tasty encounter is expected.

Shrewsbury Town v Swindon Town

Last Season: n/a

Swindon will be hurting from the derby defeat at Oxford but picked themselves up slightly in midweek by progressing to the Third Round of the Carling Cup with victory over Bristol City at Ashton Gate. Shrewsbury, by their standards, had a stuttering start but also pulled off a giant killing on Tuesday by knocking out Premier League Swansea. Their league form finally got going last weekend as well with a win over Crewe, their first of the season.

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