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EFL weekend preview

With the Premier League and Championship on hiatus for the international break, attention turns to the third and fourth tiers for this weekend's domestic football action.

Two of the top three meet in League One as Ipswich make the trip south to face Plymouth, both sides vying to take advantage of second-placed Portsmouth's weekend off and steal advantage at the summit, while Accrington journey to Bristol Rovers in a battle between struggling sides.

Meanwhile, in League Two, the pick of the matches sees this season's surprise package Barrow host Leyton Orient, the only side above them in the table, at Holker Street.

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Ipswich in pole position as Plymouth keep pace


Plymouth vs Ipswich, League One


Home Park, Plymouth


12:30, Sunday 25th September

How to watch

Sky Sports Main Event


Plymouth 9/4, draw 23/10, Ipswich 5/4

Springing from mid-table mediocrity last season to a place among the early favourites for promotion to the Championship this time around, Ipswich have laid down a marker with an unbeaten start to the season and are at 11/10 to clinch the title.

Picking up 21 points from 9 league games, the Tractor Boys' impressive record is matched only by Pompey, who they host on 1st October, putting special significance on this Sunday's televised fixture against Argyle.

Likely smarting from the 2-2 draw at Sheffield Wednesday last time out, in which Kieran McKenna's men were pegged back to parity by a last-minute Michael Smith effort, the travelling side will hope that Conor Chaplin will be able to add to his tally of six goals for the campaign - League One's joint-best return - having drawn a blank on his last two outings.

Plymouth's strength lies in the depth of scoring options available to manager Steven Schumacher, with Morgan Whittaker, Niall Ennis and Finn Afaz all on three so far.

The Pilgrims will be buoyed by their helmsman's comments last week, in which he emphatically ruled himself out of contention for the vacant Huddersfield Town managerial job.

After sharing the points with Portsmouth last time out in similarly agonising fashion - a Reeco Hackett-Fairchild stoppage-time leveller securing the draw for the Fratton Park hosts against ten men - Argyle will be gunning to overtake the leaders in a tantalising Sunday lunchtime clash.

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Rovers ready to end slump against Stanley


Bristol Rovers vs Accrington Stanley, League One


Memorial Stadium, Bristol


15:00, Saturday 24th September


Bristol Rovers 9/5, draw 12/5, Accrington Stanley 6/4

Bristol Rovers' initially mixed start to the season has given way to a wretched run of form that has brought up a winless run of seven matches across the league and EFL Trophy.

The Pirates' dry spell runs back to the 1-0 win over Oxford United on 13th August, with a 6-3 annihilation at the hands of Lincoln last Saturday rubbing salt into the fresh wounds inflicted days before by Ipswich, who ran two unanswered goals past a nine-men Gas side, now 21st and inside the relegation zone.

The draw against Morecambe that preceded the two defeats, however, should lend encouragement to the Memorial Stadium home fans ahead of the visit of Accrington.

Their visitors from the north west have experienced similar struggles, with last Saturday's win over fellow strugglers Cheltenham - only their second victory of the term - lifting them to 17th and allowing some brief respite after three straight defeats.

Stanley have netted just three times on the road all season, in four matches, while Rovers have at least been prolific at home, scoring eight in five.

Saturday's battle at 15:00 presents an ideal opportunity for either side to boost morale and gather momentum.

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Barrow look to chase down unbeaten Orient


Barrow vs Leyton Orient, League Two


Holker Street, Barrow


15:00, Saturday 24th September


Barrow 17/10, draw 21/10, Leyton Orient 9/5

The initial signs suggest that few in League Two have what it takes to haul Leyton Orient into a contest for top spot, but of all those that make up the chasing pack, Barrow might just have the steeliest credentials.

But already for points adrift of the London leaders, a home win for Pete Wild's men in Saturday's 15:00 clash seems imperative if the Holker Street outfit are to harbour any realistic hopes of reeling the O's back in.

Josh Gordon, who has found the net seven times this term, represents the home side's best threat in front of goal, though Orient are capable of hitting opponents from all sides; Charlie Kelman, George Moncur and Paul Smyth all have three goals to their name.

A 3-1 win over Sutton in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday also hints that the title favourites - 7/2 to be crowned come the end of the season - are confident enough to fight on multiple fronts, though none of the aforementioned trio started the game.

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