The Football League Trophy is finally getting to the finals stage, with four teams all vying for the coveted trophy.
On Wednesday evening, League One promotion hopefuls Peterborough United and Swindon Town square off against each other. The teams are separated by just four points in the League One table, per the BBC, with both clubs pushing for playoff positions as they aim to return to the Championship.
A victory for either club tonight will set them on course for the final at Wembley where they could face Fleetwood or Chesterfield. In the Northern Area Final First Leg, Fleetwood lost at home to Chesterfield 1-3, reports the BBC's Phil Cartwright. Goals from Ian Evatt, Sam Morsy and Jimmy Ryan—who scored a beautiful strike from 25 yards—gave Chesterfield a commanding lead.
For Peterborough and Swindon, if being within touching distance of a trip to the home of English football wasn't a motivation enough, both teams will know that a victory tonight will also have a psychological effect on their playoff aspirations.
Darren Ferguson’s side have home advantage first, and Peterborough’s boss admits the club have "earmarked" the competition as one they want to win, reports the club website.
The Posh manager told his club’s website:
At the start of the season, we earmarked this competition as one that we wanted to be successful in and we are now two games away from Wembley Stadium. Swindon will be tough opposition, we know that having played them twice already, but we are all looking forward to the tie.
For Swindon, they will be hoping they can take advantage of having the second leg at home and come away unscathed, with a draw being a good result. Peterborough won on the opening day of the League One season when they beat Swindon 1-0 at London Road, whilst Swindon won 2-1 at the County Ground.
Swindon will be hoping to take advantage of what Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony has described as a "horrendous" time for the club, per the BBC.
Peterborough started the season really well, losing just one of their first 13 league games of the season, but that form has reversed, and they have won four of their last 16 in League One, per the BBC.
Posh lost 5-4 to Oldham in their last game, but having not played since January 25th, they should be fresher than Swindon. For the visitors, they come to London Road on the back of a defeat to Oldham. The Robins have lost three in the last five games.
But Swindon manager Mark Cooper is not taking anything for granted. Speaking to BBC Wiltshire he said:
You have to use it [a Wembley final] as a carrot, but we don't want to throw it down their necks too much. Saturday (loss to Oldham) wasn't acceptable in terms of spirit and fight and in terms of the way we want to play football.
Darren Ferguson will have a host of players out which could be crucial in the outcome of this match.
Strikers Nicky Ajose and Conor Washington and new defender Jack Baldwin are cup-tied. However, defender Mark Little is fit after a shoulder injury.
For Swindon, they are without suspended Alex Pritchard and Troy Archibald-Henville. But the Robins rested a host of players against Oldham, and will welcome back Yaser Kasim, who is likely to start.
The main dilemma for boss Mark Cooper is who he places in goal.
Wes Foderingham has started 33 games this season and is looking for redemption after being part of the Town side that lost 2-0 to Chesterfield at Wembley two years ago, reports Sam Morshead in the Gazette & Herald. However, Cooper may stick with young Tyrell Belford, 19, was the penalty hero in against Stevenage in the last round.
For Swindon to come away with a win here they'll have to rely on ex-Newcastle United striker Nile Ranger, who has scored seven goals this season, per Soccerway. Meanwhile French midfielder Dany N'Guessan will be a threat from midfield, having scored eight goals, per Soccerway. But without Alex Pritchard, Swindon may struggle in creativity.
Peterborough will be relying on young midfielder Britt Assombalonga who has scored 15 goals this season from midfield, per Soccerway.
A tight game with lots to play for, but Peterborough United will have home advantage and are fresher having not played since January 25th. I expect a home win for Darren Ferguson's side.