THE BIG MATCH

You don't have to look too far for npower League 2's big game this weekend as fourth hosts sixth at the Pirelli Stadium - Burton Albion versus Rotherham United.

Gary Rowett's Brewers have tasted life in the automatic promotion positions over recent weeks but go into Saturday's round of fixtures two points adrift of third-placed Cheltenham Town, and a solitary point ahead of their visitors Rotherham.

Burton have certainly been formidable in front of their own fans of late with five straight wins on home turf and another three-pointer on Saturday, on the back of successive away draws in their last two matches, will keep them ticking over just nicely.

Rowett told www.burtonalbionfc.co.uk: "What we have said all along is that if we want to achieve anything this season then we are going to have to beat sides like that [Rotherham] at some stage.

"To stay in and around where we are, we need to be taking points of these teams around us and come up with some results against those sides. Similarly, those sides know that they need to be beating us if they want to push us out of our current position.

"It's a challenging run of games, particularly Rotherham this weekend who are of the bigger sides, one of the big spenders in this division and they have one of the newer stadiums in this league but we can take satisfaction that one, we are a point ahead of them at this moment in time and two, it gives us something to fight for and hold on to."

And while Burton are turning it on at home, Rotherham are doing so on the road with four successive League 2 away victories to their name.

Three home defeats out of the last four have hindered their progress a little but they have also played less games than the teams around them - with three in hand over Burton and two over Cheltenham Town.

Boss Steve Evans told Millers Player: "Gary Rowett and the players down there deserve enormous respect. The one thing I know about those players down there, and I know some of them personally, is that they have a real desire to win football matches. It's a tough afternoon for us.

"Anyone going to the Pirelli Stadium always says it's going to be tough. The fans get right behind them, I know I've got a tongue-in-cheek banter relationship with them but they're fantastic.

"We'll go there, we'll have our game plan to offset them, and hopefully when we leave Burton we have added to our points tally."

KEEP AN EYE ON

Second-bottom against the side top of the npower League 2 tree will have a bearing at both ends of the table on Saturday when Barnet host Port Vale.

The Bees have lost three of their last five fixtures to find themselves just a point off the foot of the table, although they are in the bottom two only on goal difference because of their inferior figure compared to third-bottom Plymouth Argyle.

But it's so tight down there that a win could see Barnet move as high as 19th depending on other results, and they can take something from their most recent two victories - at home to Bradford City and away to Rotherham United.

Defender David Stephens told www.barnetfc.com: "I think you have to take the positives [from the last two games, defeats to Burton Albion and Bristol Rovers] otherwise there will be a negative mindset around the club and that will not help anyone.

"We have played well and come away with no points but we have done the same to teams when they perhaps deserved to take something from the game.

"We would rather have the points but we have to take positives in the way we play and I do not think that many teams in League 2 can keep the ball like we do."

Port Vale have the relative luxury of knowing that whatever happens this weekend, they will end it on top of the table as their four-point cushion is intact.

It's been a good week for Vale as they picked up successive 3-0 victories, the second of those coming against AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night and moving them four ahead at the summit following second-placed Gillingham's 1-0 defeat at home to Wycombe Wanderers on Monday.

And they have also been boosted by news that 25-goal top scorer Tom Pope has signed a new contract.

Winger Ashley Vincent told www.port-vale.co.uk: "It is not straight forward. We played Wimbledon the other week at their place and they went 2-0 up against us.

"Barnet are fighting for their lives and they won't want to get relegated out of the league and it will be a tough game. They have got a star in their camp and there will be a bit of hype surrounding them, but we will go there with confidence.

"We have won our last two games 3-0 and we need to go there, put on a good performance, score some goals and make sure we come from there with some sort of a result."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

If Port Vale do slip up at Barnet then Gillingham will have the opportunity to close the gap on them at the top of the npower League 2 table.

Gillingham have a game in hand on the Valiants but they remain at arm's length after failing to win in front of their own fans for the sixth time in the last seven attempts with that defeat to Wycombe Wanderers. They will perhaps be glad to be away from home tomorrow.

Their road trip sees them head up to Yorkshire to face Bradford City, who will be looking for the points themselves to re-ignite their promotion push as they have slipped to 10th, five points adrift of the Play-Off places, with no League 2 victory since Boxing Day.

Making up the top three going into the weekend are Cheltenham Town, who sit six points behind Gillingham but two ahead of fourth-placed Burton Albion and a trip to 16th-placed Dagenham and Redbridge in the offing for Saturday.

Burton's clash with Rotherham United is the big one in the Play-Off spots but both teams can't take maximum points so fifth-placed Southend United and seventh-placed Exeter City will be looking to further their own causes.

Both are away, with Southend travelling to 20th-placed Accrington Stanley and Exeter heading to 12th-placed Morecambe.

Immediately below the Play-Offs are Northampton Town on 45 points and Fleetwood Town on 44, with both able to move up into the top seven on Saturday. Northampton are at home to Rochdale, who start the weekend 15th, while Fleetwood make the long journey to 17th-placed Torquay United.

It's tight at the other end of the table too, with only four points separating bottom side AFC Wimbledon from Bristol Rovers, who are up in 19th.

Rovers are level with table-topping Port Vale for form over the last six games and will be looking to continue their momentum with an away match at Oxford United, who are 13th, while a point behind them are Accrington.

Sitting 21st are Aldershot Town, on 30 points, and they face a big game as they are at home to the club one place and one point behind them - Plymouth Argyle. The Pilgrims are only out of the bottom two on goal difference ahead of Barnet, while AFC Wimbledon are a point further back at the foot.

The Dons travel to Chesterfield, who are 11th, while the weekend's fixtures are rounded off by 14th-placed Wycombe, whose six-game form matches that of Bristol Rovers and Port Vale, at home to York City, who are in 18th with a five-point cushion over the pack scrapping behind them.

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