The business end of the season isn’t too far away now for the EFL’s Welsh clubs, and all three have positioned themselves for success.
Steve Cooper’s Swansea are hunting down automatic promotion to the Premier League, whilst their neighbours further-down the M4 are both looking to secure play-off positions.
Here we take a look at all three of the clubs’ fixtures tonight…
Swansea v Coventry
Swansea City will be hoping they can get back on track in their push for automatic promotion as they host Coventry City tonight.
The Swans suffered a minor setback on Saturday as they were well beaten by a battling Terriers side.
The 4-1 defeat to Huddersfield was a missed opportunity to overtake second-placed Brentford, who suffered a third successive defeat to the Swan’s next opponent, Coventry.
Prior to their defeat, Steve Cooper’s men were unbeaten in nine league matches but uncharacteristic errors at the back were punished as they shipped in three early second half goals.
“We’ve only got ourselves to blame for today, if you don’t do the basics, at both ends of the pitch, then it can cost you’’ Cooper said after the game.
“The goals from Huddersfield were obviously good finishes, but the areas that they got into were ones we worked on a lot to try and prevent them getting into’’.
The Swans have been sublime defensively this season, conceding just 19 goals in 29 league matches and so will be determined to keep that impressive stat up as they welcome Coventry to the Liberty Stadium.
With the Sky Blues battling for survival and picking up their first win in five matches on the weekend, it won’t be an easy night for the Swans, but they’ll be hopeful that they can get the three points and push for that automatic spot.
Bournemouth v Cardiff
This is a hugely significant game for both sides.
Mick McArthy’s Cardiff City have been on formidable form as of late and the bluebirds have spread their wings and flown up the league table.
Since replacing Neil Harris, the veteran Yorkshireman has completely revitalised the club as they’ve gone on a rampant run, picking up a colossal seventeen points in just seven games.
Their next opponents – Bournemouth, who sit just three points above them and more importantly occupy that final play-off spot.
The Cherries too have recently had a change of personnel and have just announced Jonathan Woodgate as new manager after the departure of Jason Tindall.
Woodgate has added a bit of stability to the former Premier League Club, winning three of his five games in charge.
But a 2-1 defeat to QPR on Saturday has flown the door wide open for City, who are eager to snatch 6thplace from their play-off rivals.
The bluebirds were brilliant in their previous game against Preston, firing in four goals and keeping the lilywhites out at the other end.
McCarthy has got his side firing on all cylinders and has completely transformed the likes of Aden Flint and Josh Murphy who seemed down and out under Neil Harris.
And with the goal-scoring form that Kieffer Moore is in, big Mick has suddenly got his side looking like strong contenders for a top 6 finish.
“I think it would have been beyond my wildest dreams or expectations to draw the first two and win the next five. You always hope to do it and plan to do it.
“But I said to the lads, it’s not me and TC that’s the silver bullet here, it’s them. They’ve done all the hard work, the grafting, and credit to the players.”
A victory for the bluebirds tonight will see them leapfrog above Bournemouth on goals scored. It’s a game that really could define the rest of their season.
Walsall v Newport County
Further-down the leagues Newport County travel to Walsall as they look to solidify their place in the play-offs.
County have stuttered as of late, picking up just one win in five, and in the process have languished to 7thplace.
They currently occupy the final play-off spot but with Exeter, Carlisle and Bolton all breathing heavily down their neck, manager Michael Flynn will be hoping for a positive result.
Flynn has been vocal on the impact that COVID has had on his players as of late, stating that the congested fixture list is taking its toll both physically and mentally.
“If players are going to be picking up injuries now it is going to be a lot tougher than normal”.
“That affects their mental state of mind as well”.
Although the Exiles sit in 7th, they are only three points off the final automatic spot, which they were occupying not long ago.
Walsall is definitely a winnable game for the South Wales side, who too have only won just once in their past five matches, but a win for them would close the gap on Newport to just four points.
A victory then would certainly ease some pressure on Michael Flynn’s side, and perhaps kick start another run of fine form they witnessed in the earlier stages of the season and propel them back into the top 3 three.
All in all then we have three equally important games for the Welsh sides. Will they come out on top or fall just short? There’s plenty of twists and turns to go yet…