Under The Spotlight: Five EFL teams desperately seeking three points

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Chris Wilder’s Middlesbrough are chasing promotion to the Premier League
Chris Wilder’s Middlesbrough are chasing promotion to the Premier League

We are entering the final few weeks of the Football League season and it is crunch time for teams who have their eyes on promotion, a place in the play-offs or avoiding relegation. 

Here are five teams from the Championship, League One and League Two desperate for three points tomorrow to boost their respective ambitions. 

Middlesbrough vs Peterborough (Saturday, 3pm)

Middlesbrough have grabbed plenty of headlines this season with FA Cup wins over Manchester United and Tottenham but a return to the Premier League is the priority for the Teessiders. 

Chris Wilder’s side will be desperate for three points at struggling Peterborough in order to stay in touch in the race for the play-offs.

Middlesbrough claimed a 2-0 win at Birmingham the last time they were on their travels but had failed to win any of their previous six away games, losing four. 

Although they will not be taking anything for granted, expectations will be high against a team who have taken just two points from their last seven games at London Road. 

Barnsley vs Reading (Saturday, 3pm)

Paul Ince's Reading can take a massive step to survival by beating Barnsley
Paul Ince's Reading can take a massive step to survival by beating Barnsley

Reading are enduring a poor season at the other end of the Championship, bringing in Paul Ince to help turn things around, and a victory at fellow strugglers Barnsley would be massive for the Royals. 

Securing the win at Oakwell would leave them eight points ahead of the Tykes, who occupy the third relegation spot. 

And while that would not mean the Berkshire team were guaranteed to be playing at the same level next season, it would be a big gap for Barnsley to close with just seven games of the season remaining. 

Plainly, it is vital for Barnsley to win, but the prize is probably greater for their opponents as they look to take a massive step towards guaranteed survival. 

Wigan vs Bolton (Saturday, 12.30pm)

Wigan are battling it out with Rotherham for the League One title and while promotion to the Championship is probably a more important prize, this is a great chance for the Latics to take the initiative. 

The Millers will be at Wembley for the EFL Trophy final this weekend, so Wigan will move top of the table if they can claim a win over local rivals Bolton at the DW Stadium. 

Wanderers may lack the necessary motivation as they are unlikely to make the play-offs, while their hosts will be confident after they claimed a 4-1 win over Morecambe in their last home match to extend their unbeaten league run to five matches.

Mansfield vs Northampton (Saturday, 3pm)

Nigel Clough knows Mansfield can stake a claim for an automatic promotion place this weekend
Nigel Clough knows Mansfield can stake a claim for an automatic promotion place this weekend

The race for promotion in League Two is intense, with 10-placed Sutton separated from Northampton in third by just five points. 

Mansfield are eighth and three points behind the Cobblers, with whom they could draw level should they beat them at Field Mill on Saturday. 

The Stags have not been on their own patch since March 4, when they beat Exeter 2-1, but they have won their last 10 home league games and still have two in hand on this weekend’s opponents.

Nigel Clough’s side are in the thick of the battle and this is a fantastic opportunity for them to boost their promotion chances. 

Stevenage vs Oldham (Saturday, 3pm)

Steve Evans' Stevenage need a win over fellow strugglers Oldham on Saturday
Steve Evans' Stevenage need a win over fellow strugglers Oldham on Saturday

Scunthorpe are in desperate trouble at the bottom of League Two and there is a good chance Stevenage or Oldham will be joining them in the National League next season. 

The pair meet at the Lamex Stadium tomorrow and, as they are level on points, the emphasis is on the home side from Hertfordshire, now under the guidance of the experienced Steve Evans, to gain what could be a vital victory in a huge game. 

They have not won since the end of January, picking up just three points in the 10 games since, so a success would be timely, while a 2-0 win over Leyton Orient last time out ended a run of six straight defeats for Oldham.

Tags

MiddlesbroughChampionshipWiganReadingMansfieldStevenage
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