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Plymouth's trip to Ipswich is one of the feature games in League One this weekend
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League One Weekend preview: Plymouth hope to extend lead

The first League One matches of 2023 take place on New Year's Day and there are plenty of talking points ahead of the latest match week in the third tier of English football.

The race for Championship football has, as ever, been very competitive and there are three clear contenders making a break at the top of the standings.

Plymouth, who narrowly missed out on the play-offs last season, top the table on 53 points with Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday four points further back - the Tractor Boys are ahead of the Owls by virtue of goals scored.

Barnsley, Bolton and Peterborough complete the top-six spots, while at the bottom, Morecambe have endured a tough season and prop the table up.

Forest Green, Milton Keynes Dons and Accrington Stanley make up the rest of the relegation zone, with several clubs just above looking over their shoulders nervously.

Pilgrims set to give Jackson tough ride

What: Plymouth v Milton Keynes Dons
Where: Home Park, Plymouth
When: 15:00, Sunday 1st January
How to watch: iFollow
Odds: Plymouth 17/20, Draw 13/5, MK Dons 3/1

Plymouth have been sensational so far this season and are on course to reach 100 points come the season finale, if their form carries on.

On Thursday evening, they secured a hard-fought win against recent Championship participants Wycombe after Dan Scarr's first-half goal.

The Pilgrims have been galvanised by their near miss of the top six last season and boss Steven Schumacher deserves huge credit for how they have performed, particularly as they don't have a huge budget to work with.

By contrast, MK Dons have been the biggest disappointments of the league this season and find themselves in a battle to stave off relegation to League Two.

After Liam Manning's departure, the Dons turned to Leeds Under-21 coach Mark Jackson and he began his era with a 1-0 win against Forest Green on Boxing Day, though they came back down to earth with a 2-0 loss to Peterborough.

It promises to be a hugely tough task against a Plymouth side who have won 10 of their 11 home games this season.

Ipswich and Wednesday in hot pursuit

What: Lincoln City v Ipswich
When: 15:00, Monday 2nd January
Where: Sincil Bank, Lincoln
How to watch: iFollow
Odds: Lincoln 15/4, Draw 16/5, Ipswich 4/6

The two sides who are best-placed to stop Plymouth from running away with the title are Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday, with the pair desperate to get back where they feel they belong.

Kieran McKenna's Ipswich have enjoyed a very good season so far and the former Manchester United coach continues to look like a wise pick as their boss.

The Tractor Boys have been in the top two virtually all season and next face Lincoln, who were well-beaten 3-0 at struggling Burton Albion on Boxing Day.

Wednesday, meanwhile, have improved as the season has gone on and they are now unbeaten in 12 league games, since their 2-1 defeat to Plymouth in early October.

Darren Moore's men have got the joint-meanest defence in the league alongside South Yorkshire rivals Barnsley and their next game comes against Cambridge United on Monday, with Mark Bonner's men beating Shrewsbury on Boxing Day to end a shocking run of form.

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Play-off hopefuls clash at Oakwell

What: Barnsley v Bolton
When: 15:00, Monday 2nd January
Where: Oakwell, Barnsley
How to watch: iFollow
Odds: Barnsley 6/5, Draw 12/5, Bolton 23/10

A tasty meeting between Barnsley and Bolton is to come on Monday with both teams aiming for the Championship once more.

Mike Duff's men have won six of their last seven games and overcame a stubborn Fleetwood on Thursday thanks to Robbie Cundy's late strike.

The Tykes began the season slowly but momentum is certainly with them as they aim to bounce back to the Championship at the first time of asking.

Bolton, who at the time of writing have a game in hand at Lincoln on Friday evening, are also a very strong side defensively with Ian Evatt leading the charge from the dugout.

The Trotters have stumbled slightly recently and won only one of their last four games, so a win at one of their rivals would certainly be a statement.

Morecambe face rejuvenated Burton

What: Morecambe v Burton
When: 15:00, Sunday 1st January
Where: Mazuma Stadium, Morecambe
How to watch: iFollow
Odds: Morecambe 21/10, Draw 5/2, Burton 5/4

The danger for Morecambe and Derek Adams was becoming cast adrift of the rest of the field, so the 2-0 win against Accrington on Thursday was very gratefully received.

It was the Shrimps' first win in eight games and now they can try look forward to 2023 with a renewed sense of optimism.

Burton Albion are in the same boat with Dino Maamria's men winning each of their last two, the latter at struggling Forest Green.

A win for the Brewers could put a tiny bit of daylight between them and the relegation zone.

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