THE BIG MATCH

Brentford will hope to keep up their push for an npower League 1 automatic promotion spot when they entertain a rejuvenated Preston North End at Griffin Park on Saturday.

The third-placed Bees have been strong on home soil this season registering 11 wins and just two losses in 19 games in front of their own fans - form that sees them go into Saturday's fixture just four points from top spot.

And the latest of those wins at home came on Tuesday night, a 2-1 victory over fellow promotion-chasers Swindon Town came despite being a goal down heading into the final 20 minutes.

The turnaround ended the Bees' two-game losing streak and manager Uwe Rosler is hopeful his young side's fortunes will continue to turn for the better.

The 44-year-old told the Hounslow Chronicle: "We had seven players under the age of 22, so you can see the potential the team has. Good players learn quickly - and we have good players.

"In the last month things have gone against us and when we have conceded the first goal we've never looked like coming back, but that was more like us [coming from a goal down against Swindon to secure the win].

"We've lacked a bit of confidence in the last month and to see that fighting spirit was fantastic."

Their opponents, Preston, have not lost any of their five games following Simon Grayson's appointment as manager in mid-February.

A contributing factor to their upturn in form has been the production of clean sheets - they have conceded just two goals under Grayson, and the former Huddersfield Town boss wants that to continue against a strong Brentford side.

"It is a sign of progress, because clean sheets give you the opportunity to win games with what we have already got in midfield and the front department, so we have got to make sure we are hard to beat, but obviously not taking away any of our attacking influence as well," the boss explained to www.pnefc.net.

"You know what they [Brentford] are capable of doing and where they have been for most of the season and they had a good result the other night against Swindon. The victory they are looking for against us could take them towards the top of the division, so we know it is going to be a tough game.

"We respect the opposition, whoever they are, whether they are top of the division or bottom of the division, but we will concentrate on what we need to do to get the result."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Bournemouth's bid for promotion has faltered of late but they will be hoping to get back on track this weekend when they travel to Boundary Park to meet Tony Philliskirk's lowly Oldham Athletic.

The seventh-placed Cherries have been in the top six for most of the season but five consecutive losses has seen them drop outside of the Play-Off places.

Eddie Howe's men ended their rotten run last time out, beating Stevenage 1-0 on Tuesday evening, and the 35-year-old is seeking a second win in five days when they take on Oldham, a side he believes are better than their 21st place in the league would suggest.

"We try and approach every game to win and this will be no different. Every game we go for the win, we don't go for draws, we don't play defensively," the former Burnley boss expressed to www.afcb.co.uk.

"We are quite an attacking team, with creative players and we go out with that attacking intention every game. Saturday will be no different - we will play as we always do.

"I think it's a slightly false position that they [Oldham] are in. They are a good side with some really experienced good players who will have been in this position before.

"So we are preparing for a tough game - but we believe we can go anywhere and win."

The Latics are within reach of retaining their npower League 1 status - sitting two points adrift of Scunthorpe United who occupy the final safety spot - but have lost two on the spin coming into this weekend's fixture.

Caretaker manager Philliskirk believes his team need to stop Bournemouth playing if they are are to give themselves an opportunity to rise out of the relegation zone this weekend.

The 48-year-old told explained to www.oldhamathletic.co.uk: "Bournemouth will be at their most dangerous when we are attacking and, if we let them play, they will cause us problems.

"They are a good footballing team, as is any team managed by Eddie Howe. They have a healthy budget and signed some very good players. That has enabled them to compete at the top end of the table.

"The bottom line is that we have to try and stop them playing which is what we have been working on all week.

"We have to impose ourselves on them because, if we sit off them and let them play, they will certainly cause problems and hurt us."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Scunthorpe United are a place above the drop zone but will need to improve on their recent form if it is to stay that way - they take on 11th-placed Notts County at Meadow Lane.

The Iron have won just one of their last five fixtures and haven't had a victory in their last four on the road. Scunthorpe's ability to find the back of the net on their travels has also been an issue - they have notched just 16 away goals, the lowest tally in the league along with Colchester United.

The Magpies come into the game looking to kick-start a run of good form. Two wins from their last 10 has seen them drop off the pace and has left them nine points from a Play-Off berth with just eight games to go.

Doncaster Rovers enter the weekend with a three-point cushion at the summit and will be favourites to at least maintain that lead when they host struggling Portsmouth, who had their mini revival of two wins ended on Tuesday night.

The team who beat Pompey last time out, Leyton Orient, are in action this weekend against Carlisle United.

The O's are undefeated in their last five - picking up three wins and two draws - to lift themselves to within six points of the top six, while the Cumbrians occupy 17th, nine points above the drop zone, having drawn three of their last six.

Coventry City are level on points with Orient but have a much stronger goal difference and they will also be aiming to close the gap on sixth-placed Yeovil Town, who are not in action this weekend, when they host Hartlepool United. The Pools are six points from safety but have tasted defeat just once in their last 10 fixtures.

The two sides separating the Sky Blues and the Glovers are Bournemouth and Walsall. The Saddlers have won five and drawn three of their last eight games to help them mount a late push for the Play-Offs and they entertain Crawley Town on Saturday.

Elsewhere in the top six, second-placed Sheffield United host Stevenage, who have lost eight of their last nine, while Tranmere Rovers take their unpredictable form - Ronnie Moore's men have two wins, two defeats and a loss in their last five - to Milton Keynes Dons.

Finally, rock-bottom Bury take on a Colchester United side that are just four points above the relegation places, and Shrewsbury Town have the opportunity to move further away from danger when they travel to Crewe Alexandra.

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