THE BIG MATCH

Gillingham remain top of npower League 2 and they will want to stretch the current three-point advantage they have over Port Vale as they face struggling Aldershot Town.

The Gills had a flying start to the campaign but lost their unbeaten record in their last outing at the Priestfield Stadium, when they were defeated by Rochdale. They were then held for the first time on their travels last time out, drawing 0-0 with Oxford United.

The Kent outfit now face two successive home games, starting with Aldershot on Saturday, and boss Martin Allen wants to make home advantage count.

He told Kent Online: "Two home games and six points will put the club in a very strong position at this early stage. All the players and supporters recognise it and it is no point me denying it.

"It is an exciting time and although we are not going to say it is a crucial time, it is an important time. We can really make a mark to get as far clear from fourth place as we can."

The Shots, meanwhile, have lost their last four - to Accrington Stanley, York City, Torquay United and, most recently, Chesterfield.

Dean Holdsworth's men fell into the bottom two last week, and that is something the manager will be eager to rectify on Saturday.

"We go to Gillingham as the underdogs with plenty of things against us at the moment but this kind of situation sometimes gives you that spur that you want. We will give everything we can," the boss commented on www.theshots.co.uk.

"I have always said that the transition in the fine line of winning or losing games really dictates your life. The real leaders have to put aside the disappointments and the aggravation that goes with losing football matches. The real leaders step up and lead by example.

"We may have to change a few things and we still have to educate the players but it is a testing time and the strong always stay strong. We will battle through and when we get through this we will never want it again."

One thing Holdsworth will be pleased about is securing the signing of Fleetwood Town midfielder Danny Rose, a player he worked with in his time with Newport County in the Blue Square South. He is likely to go straight into the side for the match against the Gills.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Rotherham United and Southend United both sit just outside the Play-Off contingent, level on 15 points, and they go head-to-head at the New York Stadium on Saturday.

It will be chance for the two sides to test their Play-Off credentials, and whether they have got what it takes to mix it with the sides at the top end of the division.

The Millers have only lost once so far this season in their newly-opened stadium but the Shrimpers have enjoyed their last two away trips against Rotherham - winning 4-0 last term at the Don Valley Stadium and 2-1 the season before.

Southend boss Paul Sturrock told www.southendunited.co.uk: "It has been a happy hunting ground for us so hopefully long may we continue to reap the benefits.

"They [Rotherham] have been pretty strong at home this season though, so it will be a difficult place to go. We got back on the rails again on Tuesday night with a win [in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy].

"But now the League is the important thing for us so it will be nice to collect three points on Saturday."

The Shrimpers have won just once on the road this term and have largely been inconsistent following the disappointment of a Play-Off semi-final defeat last season to Crewe Alexandra.

The 56-year-old manager added: "We need to get a run of wins and keep ourselves on the coattails.

"I liked the way Crewe did it last year coming up with a run. Last season we were up there and went the wrong way."

If Sturrock's men are to win, they will need to break down the Millers' resilient defence, which has conceded just one goal in the last three fixtures.

That record is largely down to the central-defensive pairing of Ian Sharps and Craig Morgan, who joined the club from Preston North End on a short-term deal in early September.

Rotherham striker Daniel Nardiello is expected to return to the Millers squad, while manager Steve Evans will serve the final match of a six-game stadium ban.

Southend forward Barry Corr has completed his three-game suspension but faces a fitness test on a slight groin problem.

Defender Luke Prosser is a doubt, while Mark Phillips and Neil Harris are both unavailable for the fixture.

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

It's the start of a new beginning for AFC Wimbledon this weekend as they begin life under the stewardship of new manager Neil Ardley with a home match against Cheltenham Town.

The Wombles parted company with long-term boss Terry Brown in mid-September and, since then, they have won twice and lost twice, leaving them 21st on 10 points.

Sixth-placed Cheltenham, meanwhile, are unbeaten in five and will travel to the Cherry Red Records Stadium full of confidence.

Wycombe Wanderers sit directly below Wimbledon in the standings and they are up against Fleetwood Town, who are flying high in third. Gareth Ainsworth got his first victory as caretaker boss of the Chairboys last time out and he will want to build on that when they travel to the Fylde coast.

Barnet remain rooted to the foot of the table without a win so far this term but they will be eager to change that fact at home to a Plymouth Argyle side who have drawn three of their last five. The Pilgrims have extended the loan spells of both Guy Madjo and Alex MacDonald, while the Bees have appointed former Holland legend Edgar Davids as joint head coach, alongside Mark Robson.

Bristol Rovers got their first home win of the campaign last time out, against Northampton Town, and they will want to build on that when they meet Burton Albion.

Northampton, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back as they face Exeter City. Aidy Boothroyd may hand a debut to young Welshman Emyr Huws, who joined the club on loan this week from Manchester City.

There's an all-Yorkshire tie at Valley Parade as Bradford City host York City, while at Spotland, Rochdale take on Morecambe.

Luis Boa Morte is a name familiar to most in English football for his spells in the Premier League with Arsenal and Fulham. This weekend, however, he will be pulling on a Chesterfield shirt.

The 35-year-old winger signed for the Spireites this week and could make an appearance against Dagenham and Redbridge, who have won two and drawn two from their last four.

Elsewhere, it's ninth against 11th at Plainmoor as Accrington Stanley make the long journey to Torquay United. Stanley have a two-point advantage in the league table, but the Gulls remain unbeaten at home this term.

Finally, on Monday, Port Vale travel to the Kassam Stadium to take on Oxford United in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

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