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Fleetwood Town is arguably the best placed of all the regional sides. The Blue Square Premier new boys have made an impressive start to the campaign and currently occupy the division’s final play off position. Although form has slipped somewhat in recent games, Fleetwood are still a difficult team to beat. This resilience served the side well last weekend with a battling 1-1 draw away at Bath City, a Nick Rogan strike rescuing a point for the Cod Army. Manager Mickey Mellon has also strengthened his side further with the loan signing of the experienced Jon Worthington.
Another side who harbour realistic play-off ambitions are Lancaster City. A 4-2 away victory over Mossley was the Dolly Blue’s eighth consecutive league win and propelled them into 7th place in the evo-stick league. Max Rothwell was the hero; the young midfielder netted a brace and was named man of the match. Lancaster’s league form may well be aided by their exit from the League Cup on Tuesday night, after a disappointing 1-0 to Radcliffe Borough. With the squad comprising just 17 players, the extra midweek breaks may give Lancaster an advantage over their league rivals.
It seems that teams entering new divisions are doing rather well thus far; Blackpool are another case in point. The Tangerines sit 14th in the Premier League and have a four point buffer above the relegation zone. This is largely thanks to a vital 2-1 victory over Wolves last weekend at Bloomfield Road – a stunning 25 yard drive from Luke Varney was added to by Marlon Harewood to secure the win. Varney has impressed pundits since his loan switch from Derby County, indeed Ian Holloway has hinted that he will look to secure the strikers long-term future when the transfer window opens. Blackpool will look to pick up points regularly, but face a tough task with a trip to in-form Bolton at the weekend.
Morecambe are also placed the correct side of the relegation zone. The Shrimpers occupy 21st in League 2 after an inconsistent start to the season. Despite their lowly league position, Sammy McIlroy’s side have shown their ability to grind out results and have earned some unlikely points along the way. Saturday’s away point at Cheltenham was a fine example of this battling spirit; an equaliser from the prolific Phil Jevons securing the draw.
Unfortunately there are two local teams that are currently in the relegation places. Wigan remain in trouble and were not helped by having to face Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend. Despite matching United for much of the encounter, the Latics pressed the self destruct button as captain Antolin Alcaraz and striker Hugo Rodallega were sent off. Roberto Martinez’s remaining nine players were unable to make any headway and succumbed to a 2-0 defeat. While the Old Trafford loss was disappointing, Wigan will be aware that games against sides such as West Ham will make or break their season. With the Latics travelling to Upton Park this weekend, a positive result is crucial.
Preston are the team with most ground to make up; North End sit last in the Championship and are now six points from safety. Like Wigan they faced a strong opponent last weekend, in this case away at QPR. Like their Lancashire neighbours they returned empty handed, after a 3-1 defeat. Darren Ferguson is now under considerable pressure to turn around the fortunes of his ailing team, and the visit of Millwall on Saturday will provide an opportunity to record a much needed win.