THE BIG MATCH

Cheltenham Town are the form side in npower League 2 and this Saturday they are on the road to the New York Stadium to play Rotherham United.

Robins boss Mark Yates has been rewarded for his side's good form in October, which saw them lose just once, with the npower League 2 Manager of the Month gong.

Yates' assistant, Neil Howarth, was on media duty this week and he expects a challenging afternoon in the side's first trip to the new home of the Millers, telling www.ctfc.com: "It's always a difficult game and they've got a new stadium, they want to get promoted and they're a big club in our league.

"They've got great backing, great support, and money behind them. They've got a manager who has had success when he's had money at clubs in the past.

"Steve [Evans] likes getting players in who have good physical qualities and are talented as well. He did that really well at Crawley [Town] and he's trying to do that at Rotherham at the moment.

"We've come across Steve Evans a few times over the years and he is the kind of character you do have arguments with, but away from the press side you can have a decent conversation with him so I'm sure there are no issues.

"It's all about being professional and keeping focused and getting on with your job."

Rotherham remain on the periphery of the Play-Off places but suffered a setback last weekend as they were thumped 5-0 by Dagenham and Redbridge.

Manager Steve Evans described it as "the worst performance he has had as a manager" so will certainly be after a reaction from his men, particularly as they are on home turf where they have won six out of eight.

"What happened last week [at Dagenham] hurt everyone and we have had to get it out of our system this week," he told the Star. "The fans will be behind us and we have to show that actions speak louder than words.

"Mark Yates has done a fabulous job there [at Cheltenham] and this will be a real tough ask. They are a good side, have invested in some real talent and this will be as tough a game as we have had at the New York Stadium."

Evans will be without injured midfield duo Kari Arnason and David Noble, while Yates' only injured absentee is on-loan Reading midfielder Lawson D'Ath, who has returned to his parent club for treatment on a knee problem.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Torquay United remain unbeaten on home soil this term and they will put that on the line when they entertain Southend United this weekend.

The two sides sit just outside the npower League 2 Play-Off places and are separated by just two points - Torquay having the upper hand on 25 - so this will be a big match for both.

The Gulls will certainly fancy their chances at Plainmoor, where they have recorded five victories and three draws thus far.

The Devon outfit drew 0-0 with Oxford United last time out and were without star striker Rene Howe who was suspended for the trip to the Kassam Stadium. He returns to the fold this Saturday, though, and boss Martin Ling is pleased to have his 10-goal striker back.

"Rene Howe coming back is a big plus for us," 46-year-old Ling commented on www.torquayunited.com.

"We missed him as the focus of our attack last week [against Oxford] and we never really got going as an attacking unit.

"We stuck at it and got a good point without Rene and goalkeeper Michael Poke in the team, and the overall play of Rene does help the team.

"When you play with just one up front, he is bringing others into the game. He does a lot of work that is not always seen and that helps us as a team.

"The goals are obviously special for him and us. Any team in the country without their top goalscorer will miss him and we were no different against Oxford."

The Shrimpers will arguably be the underdogs in their long trip west but should be inspired knowing that three points would claw them above their Play-Off chasing rivals.

Southend manager Paul Sturrock was keen to elude to his side's away results this term when talking about their chances in Saturday's clash.

He told www.southendunited.co.uk: "We were told Cheltenham have a fantastic home record and we went to Rotherham and won also. So we have to take some confidence into this game.

"We are a hard team to break down who seem to score a lot of goals away from home. We're playing well at the moment but we are going to an unbeaten team at home.

"A solid performance and a dirty win would do me fine."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

The action in npower League 2 kicks off on Friday as lowly Barnet host mid-table Accrington Stanley.

The Bees lost for the first time in five matches last time out, going down 4-1 away to Morecambe, and they will want to bounce back on home soil against Leam Richardson's Stanley, who have just one win in seven. Former England international striker James Beattie is in line to make his debut for Accrington, after taking up a player-coach role at the Crown Ground.

Aldershot Town sit bottom of the pile in the division, level on 13 points with Barnet, and face fellow strugglers AFC Wimbledon. A win for the Shots could lift them out of the relegation zone and pull the Wombles further into the relegation battle.

Wycombe Wanderers are also on 13 points in the League 2 standings but have a game in hand over the other sides at the foot of the table. They currently sit outside the bottom two and, if they want to remain there, they may need to pick up something from an away trip to Northampton Town, who have won two and drawn once in their last three.

Bristol Rovers are four points better off, with 17, and they have also played a game less. They will be keen to steer clear from trouble at the bottom but face a tough challenge in the shape of Rochdale, who occupy a Play-Off place.

Bradford City, Fleetwood Town and Burton Albion are the other sides in the Play-Offs.

The Bantams will want to reduce the four-point gap between themselves and third-placed Cheltenham when they entertain Exeter City on Saturday. Elsewhere, the Cod Army host Plymouth Argyle, while the Brewers welcome Dagenham and Redbridge to the Pirelli Stadium.

League leaders Gillingham have been held to draws in their last two matches - against Cheltenham Town and Plymouth - but will be confident of getting back to winning ways at home to 15th-placed Morecambe.

Port Vale are five points adrift of the front-runners and they have hit a sticky patch of form - drawing three and losing one of their last four. Next up for Micky Adams' men is a match against York City.

The final match in npower League 2 this weekend sees Chesterfield and Oxford United, who sit side-by-side in the division, go head-to-head at the Proact Stadium.

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