Getting Down To Business
Ok we may hear the phrase ‘business end’ of the season a lot, but with just three games remaining for the majority of EFL sides and five in the Premier League, we truly are at the defining stage of the season, with most promotions, play-offs spots and relegations still to be decided up and down the football pyramid,
The European Super League has rightly dominated the front and back pages this week, but let’s take a break to celebrate the fascinating competitiveness of our football league that those six breakaway clubs tried to take away from us to line their pockets.
This week’s Sparta Spotlight looks at just some of the ‘keepers who can play a role in decisive fixtures this weekend.
Matt Ingram - Lincoln City v HULL CITY
Hull’s promotion party was put on hold following Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland, but they can secure an immediate return to the Championship with a victory at Sincil Bank on Saturday.
Lincoln are in great form, winning three on the bounce and are one of only three teams who can catch Grant McCann’s side, albeit would take a monumental collapse on Hull’s part and an equally unprecedented winning run from Michael Appleton’s side.
Matt Ingram has been a top performer for the Tigers this term after starting just one game for the club in the disastrous Championship campaign last season. Other than a dip in form in December which led to the twenty-seven-year-old being dropped for George Long from December to February, Ingram has been an ever-present at the KCom.
Lincoln have been in great form of late, scoring six and not conceding in their previous three, so Ingram will have to be on top of his game.
Anssi Jaakkola - Portsmouth v BRISTOL ROVERS
Joey Barton’s arrival as Bristol Rovers boss has not had the desired effect, with the Gas rooted to the bottom of the League One table with just three matches left and relegation could be confirmed should they lose to Portsmouth at Fratton Park and other results go ahead.
However, their opponents in the early kick off have lost their last two and they may fancy themselves to get a win which would put them right back in the hunt.
You suspect Finland international, Anssi Jaakkola, will have to be in fine form should Rovers grab a precious win on the south coast, given that his side have the sparsest goals tally in the division.
The former Reading man was brought back into the fold by Joey Barton after falling out of favour under Paul Tisdale and will be eager to repay his manager’s faith by helping his side beat the drop.
Viktor Johansson - Barnsley v ROTHERHAM UNITED
Rotherham sit just a place below Derby and have two games in hand, but with the four-point gap standing after their 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough in mid-week, they are running out of games to pull themselves from the mire.
Valerian Ismael has been a revelation since becoming Barnsley manager in October 2020, with the Tykes sitting pretty in a play-off spot and Rotherham stopper Viktor Johansson will have little room for error as his side are tasked with outscoring a team who have kept clean sheets in two of their last three games.
Johansson will have to keep the likes of Victor Adeboyejo quiet as the Millers look to close the gap on Derby and avoid an instant return to League One.