Leyton Orient won at Brentford on Monday night to increase their lead at the top to five points, so whatever happens this weekend they cannot be overtaken. That may not be the last time you read that phrase in relation to the current leaders.
Almost inevitably all four League One clubs were knocked out of the Capital One Cup in midweek, but the biggest disappointment was that none of them managed to score.
There are two games of interest this weekend. The last time Wolves played at this level – 25 years ago – they were promoted as champions with Sheffield United finishing as runners up and before the season began this would have been one of the most anticipated games in League One. However, it already looks like a game the Blades won’t win: in the last 40 years they’ve played at Wolves in 20 league games and won just three – their last victory came eleven years ago. That doesn’t even take into account United’s recent away record: their last away win was at Tranmere in March and they’ve lost their last six regular season away games, scoring twice during that run.
Wolves were beaten at home by Walsall in their last home game but despite being relegated last season, the Old Golds haven’t lost consecutive league games at Molineux since just after last Christmas. Although they’re one of the clubs that are five points behind Leyton Orient, it’s worth remembering that Wolves didn’t take over at the top of Division 3 (as it was called then) until Bonfire Night 1988 – remarkably, the early pacesetters were Port Vale and Sheffield United!
Football in Yorkshire has been in the doldrums for a while now – Sheffield United were the last team to play in the Premier League and that was six seasons ago – and Leeds currently in the bottom half of the Sky Bet Championship, that means there’s just one club from Yorkshire amongst the top 30 clubs in the UK and that’s Huddersfield Town. That trend could change over the next couple of years if two of the promoted teams continue their progress over the last couple of years.
Remarkably, last season Bradford were the first Yorkshire team to reach a domestic cup final since Leeds were beaten in the 1996 League Cup final. The last time a Yorkshire side won the FA Cup: Leeds – in 1972.
One of the clubs I’ve hardly mentioned this season despite having a good start is Rotherham United. Just over a decade ago the Millers achieved their best finish in the football league since the mid 1950s but two relegations in three seasons combined with three spells in administration and having to play in Sheffield for four years have meant something of a lost decade for the club.
Things started picking up for Rotherham in January 2010, when plans for a return to the town based on a new stadium were announced. Before promotion last season, the Millers had three top ten finishes in League Two and so moving into the New York Stadium and appointing Steve Evans as manager looked like the end of a successful first transitional phase for the club.
On the pitch, the Milllers haven’t lost at home in the league since the start of March, which is a run that will be tested when Peterborough visit South Yorkshire tomorrow. By and large Evans has kept the faith with the players that earned promotion last season and although keeper Scott Shearer, defender Joe Skarz and midfielders Lee Frecklington and Ben Pringle are hardly household names, Rotherham are one of the three unbeaten teams left in League One this season and have a genuine candidate for this season’s leading goalscorer in Daniel Nardiello. Older readers may remember his father Donato, who was one of the bright young things at Coventry in the late 1970s before moving to the NASL.
Peterborough haven’t won at Rotherham since November 1977 (ten meetings in Yorkshire since then) but haven’t lost an away game in League One this season and no other team in the competition has scored as many goals on their travels as Posh have. When you compare that with Rotherham’s defensive record – the most goals conceded in the current top six – this looks like a game that could feature a few goals.
I’ll be back next Friday, so have a good weekend!