I previewed four matches earlier today, not posting any of those on here, but am also covering three games "in running", below are my pre match notes for these which you may find of some help ......
I will update these three games by email at half time.
BRISTOL CITY - LEEDS UNITED
After drawing blank in five straight games, City scored four unanswered goals at Preston last week, but that probably says more about the problems at North End than any newly found attacking prowess by the home team. However, they have received a major boost this week with the return of Nicky Maynard, who is fit to play after missing all of the season so far and last season's top scorer will almost certainly take his place on the bench. This is a big game for the home side, the first time they have hosted Leeds in over 30 years in the league and it will be played in front of an almost sell out crowd. United are very ambitious and are looking for more than a playoff spot, they battled back from two down to earn a share of the spoils at Hull and then grinded out a 1-0 home win over Coventry, when they were very wasteful in front of goal, their breakthrough goal came coutesy of South African international David Somma who has been on fire in the last season and a bit for Leeds, on loan at Lincoln and for his country, totalling 20 goals in 32 outings, he looks a tasty 3.0 to score at anytime, something he has done in the last two games, providing he passes a late test. New loan signing from Aston Villa, US international defender Eric Lichaj will definitely start and will give them a further touch of class at the back. The cup games with Arsenal were a major distraction, but the win last week should have got them back on track and with massive games against Norwich and Swansea later in the month, they need maximum points today to keep the pressure up in the hunt for what increasingly looks like one remaining automatic spot. For me, the jury is still out on City boss Keith Millen, I am not sure he is a head coach, but do not want to go into that here at the moment, suffice to say I think that Simon Grayson has the edge in the tactical department. Visitors have had 208 attempts on target this season a division high total, yet still been denied by the woodwork 17 times ! United and Burnley are the only teams to have won three games when trailing at the half, yet Leeds have won just 5 of the 9 matches in which they have led. They do not sit back regardless of the score and their games have produced an average of 1.97 goals in the second half, City's games are producing 1.53 and we should see this open up after the break, but let us see how the opening half pans out.
Maynard on bench, City unchanged, Somma and Paynter on bench, attacking line up as usual for visitors and options for Grayson.
WATFORD - BURNLEY
Both these two are looking to get involved in the post season and with each sitting five points off the pace, we can surely expect these two attack minded teams to go all out for three points today. Burnley have lost just once under new boss Eddie Howe, but showed great character to bounce back last week and beat a very strong Norwich side in an extremely open encounter, City were a bit unlucky to be honest. Watford have impressed many people with their attacking play this season and their average of 1.89 goals per game, is the highest in the division, they are without a win in four, but one came in the cup and the two losses were against Forest and Cardiff two of the strongest Championship sides. Burnley might not score as many as the Hornets, but they have created 88 more goal scoring chances, almost three per start, they have been denied by the woodwork 17 times and only on fire Leicester have had more attempts on goal. However, one word of caution, the visitors have won just two of the 14 starts in which they have gone in level at the break, only PNE can "boast" a worsE record, but most of those game came under the former management.
Austin out ( illness) for Clarets, Iwelumo in ,straight swap and only change.
COLCHESTER UNITED - SWINDON TOWN
We watched Swindon on Tuesday at Orient and the margin of the 3-0 defeat was not really fair to Town who received a major blow just before kickoff with two players picking up injuries, one I believe in the pre match warm up although I am not 100% sure about the timing of that, however, they started the brighter of the two teams and could have gone ahead early before conceding, they then regrouped, hit the woodwork and were again well on top, when Orient were given a second despite a clear foul on a Swindon defender, they were still arguing about this with the match officials when the third goal went in almost immediately. They continued to press after this with 18 attempts on goal, 11 on target and perhaps half of these were really good chances, but the Orient keeper was in good form and it was just one of those nights ! They added Spurs striker Jonathan Obika on loan, he signed on Tuesday morning and came on in the second half, but looked a little rusty, he is very quick and with a couple of days training with the rest of the squad, will be more in sync with his team mates today. Boss Danny Wilson must be on very thin ice now, he lost top scorer Charlie Austin to Burnley, but looks to have spent some of the money wisely with the addition of Elliot Benyon from Torquay, who came off the bench to score a late equaliser at home to Rochdale on saturday and giant 2m central defender Aden Flint, who was a commanding presence on his debut in the same game. Flint was signed from non league Alfreton Town, but has been watched by any number of Football league scouts for months, a number of clubs were interested and it says something about Swindon that he choose them over Colchester, who had offered identical terms to the player and club. Hs fee of £150,000 plus sell on clause is massive in the current economic climate for a sixth tier player, but if all the reports are correct, the 21yo is a little bit special.
Rochdale came into that game on an unbeaten seven match run and with their slick pasing game, the visitors were probably suited by the very windy conditions, so a point for Town was a solid result and it could have been more as they had two cleared off the line, hit the woodwork and enjoyed 61% possession, which is not easy against a team as hard working as Dale, so plenty of positives for Danny Wilson's men. In their two previous outings they had much the better of Exeter in a 0-0 stalemate and lost by the odd goal in five at high flying Bournemouth, when they left very unhappy with the match officials. It is worth remembering that the core of this squad came within a whisker of reaching the Championship last year and I think that they are a little too good to go down , but they need to start picking up points and soon. Huge sequence of games now for Town, who have played more matches than the other teams around them at the foot of the table, the defence needs to sort itself out and the experienced pros like Andy Frampton need to give more help to the youngsters.
United will be happy to be back at the Community stadium after consecutive road losses without scoring and have defensive problems again today, they will want to prove to Flint that he chose the wrong team and with a draw being of little use to either, this could develope into an open encounter, but surely the visitors will want to try and keep this tight early and not lose the game in the opening 30 minutes like in midweek. Very interesting match up.
United are struggling to finish matches off and have drawn four of the seven games in which they have led at the half, but won two of the six in which they have trailed at the break. Overall they have the poorest second half record in the division, posting just six wins and losing twelve.Town have lost two of the four matches in which they have gone in ahead and their games have seen 51 goals in the second period, the third highest number in the division.