Spotlight on League One & Two GK's
The World Cup Qualifiers this week will be one of the final chances for those in the running for this summer’s European Championship, to stake a claim for the number one jersey for their side in UEFA’s flagship international tournament. An injury to Jordan Pickford has presented Nick Pope, Dean Henderson and Sam Johnstone with the opportunity to do just that.
Our top two domestic leagues have of coursed ceased playing for the two-week international break but Leagues One and Two will still be battling out as teams come to the business end of the season, with promotion and survival races hotting up in both divisions.
This week Sparta gives you the guide on which goalkeepers to watch this coming weekend.
Lee Burge - Bristol Rovers V SUNDERLAND
The Papa John’s Trophy winners are the inform side in League One and which their new found ability to consistently win matches, their defensive record has been by far the best in the division.
Lee Burge has been in superb form himself for the Black Cats, having kept clean sheets in five of the last six games in all competitions and has put to bed any doubts over his ability after his shaky start to the season, which saw ex-manager Phil Parkinson start Remi Matthews for a number of league games before his dismissal in November.
The former Coventry man has been just one of a number of Sunderland players who seem to have a new lease of life under Lee Johnson and could well hold onto his number one jersey in the eventuality of his club playing in the Championship next season.
Burge made some fantastic saves in the 1-1 draw with Lincoln last Saturday and will need to be in a similar vein of form as Joey Barton’s struggling Bristol Rovers will be fired up to face their manager’s former nemesis.
Joshua Griffiths - Morecambe v CHELTENHAM TOWN
In homage to the town’s horse racing festival that took place last week, but Cheltenham Town are a few furlongs ahead in League Two with ten games remaining and their young ‘keeper Joshua Griffiths, on loan from West Brom, has been one of the outstanding performers.
Just nineteen, Griffiths has kept an impressive seventeen clean sheets and played in all but one of the Robins’ matches this term, with the Baggies hierarchy undoubtedly happy with his progression.
Cheltenham face a tough trip to Morecambe on Saturday, who themselves have foiled many with their form this season and see themselves in the play-off positions.
In this crunch tie in League Two, Griffiths will have to be on his game, and this could well be the type of pressure match that helps to mature the young starlet.
Lewis Thomas - FOREST GREEN ROVERS V Bolton Wanderers
The early kick-off in League Two sees a crunch match between promotion chasers Forest Green and Bolton with just two points separating them, Forest Green occupying the final automatic promotion spot.
Bolton are unbeaten in the league since January and have not failed to score since the same month, so young Welsh goalkeeper Lewis Thomas will have to be on top form.
Thomas only started his first league game this season back in January and some excellent displays have kept usual first choice Luke McGee out of the side, well... largely.
The former Swansea man was dropped after a 3-0 defeat to Stevenage, before Luke McGee suffered the same fate after a 2-2 draw with Morecambe this month, which begs the question of whether or not Mark Cooper is certain of who his number one is.
That being said, Lewis Thomas will be under pressure to perform to keep his place in the squad and maintain Forest Green’s place in the League Two promotion places.
Christy Pym - PETERBOROUGH UNITED V Accrington Stanley
Peterborough stopper Christy Pym will be eager to put in a good display, after the League One promotion chasers conceded three times in both of their last two games, when they welcome the out-of-form Accrington Stanley to London Road on Saturday.
Pym has been under-fire of late, but Darren Ferguson this week stood by the twenty-five-year-old and insisted he would remain in his position for the weekend’s vital game.
The former Exeter man had been in good form up until recently, and the Posh who themselves have made a habit of late season collapses in the past few years, will be relying on their backline to improve and ensure they remain in the hunt for a promotion place.