THE BIG MATCH

Two of the sides relegated to npower League 1 at the end of last season meet on Saturday at the Ricoh Arena as Coventry City host Portsmouth.

Not so long ago it was the Sky Blues in the bottom four and Pompey a few points ahead but with recent form turning around for both sides their positions have been reversed.

Coventry will start the day 15th after winning four of their last five while Portsmouth have slipped into the relegation zone.

And for Coventry boss Mark Robins it's a case of looking for more of the same as they get ready to face the South Coast club.

Robins told www.ccfc.co.uk: "I know some of the players down there and it must be really difficult for them at the moment.

"They have been through a lot as there seems to be a lot of upheaval within the club and that is really sad to see. I hope the situation can be resolved and then they can turn it around on the pitch for their supporters. They are another club with a great tradition so it must be hard for them to see what has happened.

"But we need to be focused and capitalise on our good form. The goals we have scored in the last few games have given the players a major confidence boost so it will be a really interesting game."

Portsmouth's recent plight has seen them lose their last six npower League 1 fixtures sliding to fourth from bottom on goal difference with 18 points from their 19 games in the process.

They have signed goalkeeper Alex Cisak and striker Jake Jervis on loan from Oldham Athletic and Birmingham City respectively but all eyes are now on getting off to a good start at Coventry after a poor opening half in Tuesday's defeat at home to Leyton Orient.

Caretaker boss Guy Whittingham told www.portsmouthfc.co.uk: "A win at Coventry is huge whether you're in a slump or not. It's a tough place to go and they're playing very well at the moment.

"They're in great form, scoring eight goals in the last game and a half. We have to be mentally and physically ready for the game. We've looked at where we can cause them problems and where they are likely to cause us problems.

"The performance in each half on Tuesday was like chalk and cheese. We were much better in the second half and there was more pride and determination in the way we went about things. We have to do that from the start on Saturday."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Notts County have their eyes on at least an npower League 1 Play-Off place this season but have to end a two-month run without a home win - and on Saturday they get the chance to do that against one of the teams currently in the top six.

Keith Curle's men are at home to Swindon Town as they look to put behind them a sequence of results that has seen them go without three points at Meadow Lane since September 22nd.

The Magpies' away form - they haven't lost on the road since February - has kept them among the promotion-chasers and overall they have lost just one of their last seven matches.

County player Gary Liddle told the Nottingham Post: "The league is wide open at the moment. It's very tight from the top to mid-table, so you can rocket up the table with one win or drop down it with one defeat, so it can swing either way.

"We need to pick up a result at home and I think once we do so they will all start reeling off nicely. I think one win will kick-start our home form. If we can just grab that win we need everyone will be happy and look forward."

Swindon have got themselves to sixth in the table having been in and around the Play-Off places for most of the campaign.

They are on 32 points, one ahead of Notts County, and had won two successive matches prior to Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to Brentford - a result that put the Bees seventh, behind Swindon only on goal difference.

Robins boss Paolo Di Canio laid in to his players after that defeat and he is looking for a response on Saturday.

Di Canio told www.swindontownfc.co.uk: "Notts County have two experienced players missing but they have quality and they play good football. It will be a good test for us.

"I'm looking forward to it because it's another team with good experience at this level and anyway, away from home we always play our football, we've get a lot of points this year and we will try and do the same.

"The way they play and the way we play it should be a very good football match to watch. They play 4-3-3, they play on the ground, they want to keep the ball and start from the back, have good possession ball so in some ways we like to play against sides that play in this manner."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Brentford's npower League 1 victory at Swindon Town on Tuesday night extended the Bees' excellent recent form and was enough to put them seventh in the table, right on the coat-tails of the Play-Off spots.

They are outside the top six only on goal difference - Swindon are sixth - and Uwe Rosler's men now face another of the contenders on Saturday.

Griffin Park is the venue as they play host to second-placed Sheffield United with the visitors still having suffered just one defeat all season.

Danny Wilson's men went through a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Crewe Alexandra on Tuesday and have shown how difficult they are to beat as they put last season's heartbreak behind them.

The only team above the Blades remains Tranmere Rovers who have a two-point advantage at the summit, and they will be looking to return to winning ways after two games without a victory - and indeed a goal.

But life gets no easier for Ronnie Moore's men as they face a trip to fifth-placed Stevenage, who themselves are three games without a three-point haul.

The other two teams in the Play-Off positions are Milton Keynes Dons in third and Doncaster Rovers in fourth. The Dons are at home to 16th-placed Colchester United on Saturday while Rovers face a local derby at home to Scunthorpe United.

It's a big one for Scunthorpe as they are one of the teams in the bottom four alongside Hartlepool United, Bury and Portsmouth.

Hartlepool have still won just once since the early part of the season and have lost both of their games under John Hughes, a beating at home to Coventry and a last-minute defeat to Oldham Athletic on Tuesday.

On Saturday they travel to 17th-placed Walsall, while Bury are in home action against Bournemouth - who have got themselves to 11th and are yet to lose since Eddie Howe returned as manager.

The longest trip of the weekend is undoubtedly Carlisle United's visit to Yeovil Town, with Carlisle's fans facing a 630-mile round trip for the Huish Park encounter.

Leyton Orient against Preston North End is still a fair old trip but is far shorter as the teams in 13th and 10th respectively do battle, and Crawley Town must travel over 200 miles for their visit to Crewe Alexandra.

Saturday's remaining fixture sees Oldham Athletic, who are 18th on 20 points, at home to Shrewsbury Town, who are 20th on 18 points.

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