THE BIG MATCH

Brentford have stormed their way into the npower League 1 Play-Off places and this weekend they meet promotion rivals Milton Keynes Dons.

The Bees come into the match unbeaten in seven, having won five of those fixtures - form that has lifted them up to fifth.

They were 2-0 winners over Sheffield United last time out in the league, but were on the end of a 2-1 defeat at the hands of npower League 2 Southend United in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in midweek.

Attention will now be firmly back on the league, starting with this weekend's home tie against the third-placed Dons, who are one point better off.

"MK Dons are an established top team playing very impressive football at times," boss Uwe Rosler told Bees Player.

"They have a very experienced squad, especially in the first XI with players who have been around the blocks.

"The way I see it, it is probably the two best midfields in the league meet each other, and I think the game will be very much decided in midfield."

Karl Robinson's men are also in good form, having won five of their last six League 1 matches, and have the momentum of an FA Cup win over AFC Wimbledon behind them.

They will do well to break down Uwe Rosler's side at Griffin Park, though - a ground where only Yeovil Town have triumphed this term, and that was way back in August.

Robinson is fully aware of the task ahead, telling www.mkdons.com: "Their team [Brentford] is stacked full of wonderfully gifted footballers and they are in remarkable form. They beat Sheffield United quite comfortably recently so we know the enormity of the challenge that awaits us.

"Griffin Park is a great place to go and play, the pitch is decent, the tunnel is in the corner so walking to the dugout you have time to think and it's normally a good occasion.

"Uwe Rosler has done an unbelievable job there, since he has been there he has definitely turned the club around, he's changed their philosophy and the type of players they are looking to bring in. They will be a constant threat on Saturday afternoon."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Two other sides in and around the npower League 1 promotion picture also go head-to-head this weekend as Swindon Town host Doncaster Rovers.

Dean Saunders' Doncaster travel to the County Ground having won their last four matches and currently sit second, level on points with leaders Tranmere Rovers.

A win for Saunders' side in this one could see them move to the summit for the first time this season, providing they better Tranmere's result against Portsmouth, and that will give them huge confidence in trying to earn promotion back to the npower Championship after being relegated last term.

And the former Wrexham boss is keen to see that happen, telling The Star: "We are up there at the top of the league along with Tranmere and we want to stay there and I'd like to see us damage the prospects of the teams below us who are also challenging for promotion.

"I think Swindon will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season but if we beat them tomorrow we'll be 10 points in front of them."

Swindon certainly have promotion ambitions of their own but they have gone off the boil somewhat and currently sit eighth, having lost their last two matches 1-0 - against Brentford and, most recently, Notts County.

The Robins have had a two-week break from action but striker Raffaele Di Vita says the squad has been working hard.

"We didn't really take it easy this week without a game," the Italian told www.swindontownfc.co.uk.

"To be fair it's been really hard and in the mornings especially we've done a lot of running without the ball.

"Obviously the weekend made us relax a little bit and we're now refreshed but we have been working hard so we're ready to get back into a game and get back to normal.

"It's not going to be an easy game especially because we've been struggling at home.

"Everyone wants to do well and give the fans something to cheer about and I don't think it's really a problem who we face because we know on our day we can beat anyone.

"It's good that we're playing Doncaster because when we play the top sides we generally do really well."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Tranmere Rovers remain as leaders of npower League 1 but their advantage was cut after they drew 1-1 with Stevenage in their last league outing, which gave Doncaster Rovers the opportunity to pull level on 39 points.

Ronnie Moore's men are holding on to top spot by goal difference only but they will be looking to solidify their position against an out-of-form Portsmouth at Prenton Park on Saturday.

Pompey currently lie 20th and have picked up just one point from their last eight matches, scoring four and conceding 13 in the process. However, that point came last time out in the league as Izale McLeod struck late on to earn them a share of the spoils against Coventry City.

Sitting directly below the South Coast club, in the relegation places - level on points but with a worse goal difference - is Bury, and they will be looking to continue the form which has seen them lose just once in seven.

It won't be easy, however, as they face a trip to 13th-placed Leyton Orient, who themselves have not dropped a point since November 7th.

The other three sides in the remaining relegation positions are Shrewsbury Town in 22nd, Scunthorpe United in 23rd and Hartlepool United in 24th, and they all come up against Play-Off chasing sides on Saturday.

Ninth-placed Crawley Town welcome the Shrews, the Iron host 10th-placed Bournemouth, while the Pools are at home to Stevenage, who sit seventh.

Gary Smith's men have the same points tally as Notts County and they will be looking to keep their position inside the top six when they travel to Yeovil Town.

The Magpies are yet to lose on the road this season but it won't be easy as Gary Johnson's men go into Saturday's fixture having secured a Johnstone's Paint Trophy Area semi-final spot in midweek with a 2-0 home win over Wycombe Wanderers.

Two other sides victorious in the Trophy this week are in action on Saturday; 15th-placed Coventry City host near-neighbours Walsall, who are two points and four league places below Mark Robins' men, while Crewe Alexandra will be looking to overtake Preston North End when the two sides meet at the Deepdale.

Saturday's remaining two fixtures see high-flying Sheffield United, who are on the tails of the front two - sitting just three points back - travel to Carlisle United, and Colchester United host Oldham Athletic with both trying to pull further away from the relegation spots.

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