IN BETWEEN DAYS



After another weekend of League One action, how did Sunderland's promotion rivals get on and how crucial is it that we break the Joey Barton curse this Saturday?


Sunderland were held to a 1-1 draw, but put in a decent performance again on Saturday against promotion rivals Lincoln City to make it eleven games unbeaten in all competitions. The draw kept Sunderland in third position although a win would have taken Lee Johnson's side up to second.


Peterborough salvaged a point against Rochdale when it looked as though there could be an upset on the cards when Rochdale found themselves 3-2 up with minutes left to play, however a late penalty from Johnson Clarke-Harris made sure that the points were shared.


Hull also dropped points after they could only draw 1-1 away to Shrewsbury, which is frustrating to see as a Sunderland fan as it is a rare thing that both of your promotion rivals drop points on the same day, although that has little value given that Sunderland failed to capitalize.


Sunderland now have a week long break before returning to action on Saturday, where they travel to Bristol Rovers, with former Fleetwood Town manager Joey Barton the new face in the Rovers dugout.


Of course, there'll be pessimism about coming up against Joey Barton, having failed to beat the former Newcastle player in his career as a manager so far. Sunderland have to find a way to break the curse on Saturday, or face potentially sleep-walking into a play-off battle.


The reverse fixture which took place under Phil Parkinson's leadership, ended 1-1 and was telling of the problems that were at the club. However, you look at the difference of mood in the camp now and think that Sunderland should fancy themselves this weekend, especially being on the unbeaten run that we are.


What can Lee Johnson's side expect from Rovers this weekend? Rovers have found themselves in a rut recently and have gone three games without a win under Joey Barton, with defeats against Charlton and Plymouth Argyle overshadowing their 4-1 win over Accrington Stanley earlier this month.


As a result of their inconsistency and a managerial turnover, Rovers are 20th in the table and survival looks to be Barton's priority for the remainder of the campaign, they are currently a point above the drop zone and face fellow strugglers Swindon Town tomorrow in a relegation six-pointer for both sides.


Sunderland however will be looking to get back to winning ways and will look to take advantage of a longer resting period this week. The performance against Lincoln showed signs of fatigue and Lee Johnson will be hoping to welcome back Jordon Jones from injury, haven sat out the last three games, and Bailey Wright is also close to being back in contention although the Bristol Rovers match is expected to come too soon for the Australian defender.