Steel yourself for success

  • By: Craig Chisnall
  • Last Updated: February 11 2014, 8:11 GMT

Tipster Craig Chisnall previews the midweek action in the Sky Bet Football League and fancies the Sheffield clubs to excel.

Nigel Clough: Can guide Sheffield United to a draw in London
Nigel Clough: Can guide Sheffield United to a draw in London

Stuart Gray has done very little wrong since taking the reins at Sheffield Wednesday - and I hope it stays that way when the Owls welcome Wigan on Tuesday.

The former Southampton and Northampton manager has worked wonders in the Hillsborough hot-seat following Dave Jones' sacking on December 1.

Wednesday were in deep relegation trouble when Jones got the axe but his assistant Gray has stepped up brilliantly to guide them into mid-table.

Saturday's 2-0 win at Reading made it eight games unbeaten and they have now lost just two of their last 14 matches and are also into the fifth round of the FA Cup.

In those last eight matches the Owls have won four of them and kept five clean sheets - their much-improved defence has been key to them climbing nine away above the drop zone.

Gray is also getting the best out of striker Chris Maguire. The diminutive Scot had barely been given a chance by Jones but has been a revelation in their recent upturn.

The former Derby man took his tally to seven in his last nine games with a penalty at the Madejski Stadium and will be key against Wigan.

The Latics have gone off the boil of late after new boss Uwe Rosler's initially improved results at the DW Stadium.

They've lost two of their last four and have scored just one goal in that run. And it's their lack of goals that will be concerning former Manchester City hitman Rosler.

Their tally of 30 goals is the lowest in the top 15 and I'm going with the Owls to carry their good run on at 17/10.

I'm going to stay in South Yorkshire for my League One selection - by backing Sheffield United to hold leaders Brentford to a draw at Bramall Lane 24 hours later.

The Blades have proved in recent weeks they are more than capable of producing the goods - beating Aston Villa at Villa Park in the third round of the FA Cup before seeing off Fulham at Craven Cottage in their fourth round replay last week.

But I'm sure all Blades fans and boss Nigel Clough will have gained much more joy from their crucial 2-0 win over fellow strugglers Shrewsbury on Saturday.

That win clawed them to within a point from safety and they will surely be eyeing another scalp when the Bees arrive.

Mark Warburton is yet to lose since taking over from Wigan-bound Rosler and their lengthy unbeaten run now stretches to 18 matches.

They were frustrated to see their weekend clash with Crawley washed out by the weather after strengthening impressively in the transfer window with the likes of James Tarkowski, Nico Yennaris and Alan Judge all moving to Griffin Park.

But this is a tough test against a Blades side who should be nowhere near the bottom four with the quality the possess and the draw is a decent 23/10.

If Brentford were upset at having a weekend off, Newport in League Two must be exasperated at their lack of action in recent weeks.

They've yet to play in February after Friday's scheduled home clash with Fleetwood fell victim to the weather - their fifth home match in six to be postponed.

It's not only hitting the Exiles in the pocket, they revealed at the weekend the call-offs could cost them upwards of £180,000, but they are now eight points behind seventh-placed Southend having played just four matches in 2014.

Boss Justin Edinburgh will be desperate to get this game on in a bid to regain ground on the top seven.

And at Rodney Parade they have a fine record - taking 22 points from their 10 games while AFC Wimbledon aren't good travellers with just three wins on the road this season.

Boss Neal Ardley was also far from happy with their performance in the 3-0 home defeat and Rochdale and County should have too much for them at 19/20 with Sky Bet.

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