Bowyer: It’s tough to take

Bradford City manager Gary Bowyer admitted that the club's relegation to League Two, which was confirmed on Friday, has been tough to take.

The Bantams lost 2-0 to play-off chasing Coventry City and will be playing in the fourth tier of English football next season.

It has been a terrible campaign for Bradford City who appointed Michael Collins as their manager last summer after parting company with Simon Grayson.

Collins was sacked in September and succeeded by David Hopkin, who resigned five months later. Former Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool boss Bowyer was appointed manager at Valley Parade in March but he was unable to halt the club's slide to relegation.

Bowyer said: "It is obviously very tough to take for everyone connected to the club. We started the game well and had good chances early on but Coventry scored from their first real attack.

"It was poor defending from us and we weren't clinical enough in front of goal. Those instances pretty much sum up our season. We haven't been good enough in either penalty box and we are where we are.

"It is not nice for the supporters, who are so proud of their club, but we have to conduct ourselves in a professional manner until the end of the season. After that we have a big task on our hands, which is already being prepared for."

Bradford City can be backed at 8/5 to win their next game against Gillingham on Monday.

Powell axed by Southend

League One strugglers Southend United have confirmed that manager Chris Powell has been sacked.

The Shrimpers have acted as the side have slipped down the table towards the relegation places on the back of a run of 11 matches without a win.

Saturday's 2-0 defeat at play-off hopefuls Peterborough United left Southend sitting outside the drop zone by virtue of having a superior goal difference to fourth-bottom Walsall.

And, it proved to be the final straw for the board at Roots Hall who opted to axe Powell after 14 months in charge.

On confirming the departure of the 49-year-old former England international, who has also had spells in charge of Charlton and Huddersfield, a Southend statement read: "It is with much regret that the club has this morning terminated Chris Powell's contract.

"The results over a number of weeks, eleven games without a win, has impacted all concerned and immediate changes needed to be made. The club's interests are paramount, but the board are nevertheless disappointed to see Chris Powell leave."

Academy chief Ricky Duncan has been installed as interim manager and his first game in charge will be the visit of fellow strugglers Shrewsbury Town on Saturday.

The Shrimpers, who are 6/4 to be relegated to League Two this season, are 13/8 to win, while the Shrews are priced at 8/5 and the draw is 23/10.

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Clough cools play-off hopes

Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough doubts whether his side can sneak into the League One play-offs even after their 5-2 win over Accrington Stanley.

The Brewers trailed 2-0 in the first half but Scott Fraser halved the deficit before the break and Clough's side scored four goals in the second half.

The result leaves Burton, who reached the League Cup semi-finals earlier in the campaign and were relegated from the Championship last term, five points off a play-off spot. They are 100/1 to be promoted this season.

Clough said after his team's superb comeback victory: "I thought we played well in the first 35 minutes and didn't deserve to be 2-0 down – the reason we were was two mistakes.

"The goal we scored just before half time was then massively important but we had 10 to 12 moves like that and hadn't got a shot off. In the second half we finished them off, that was the difference.

"It might just be a bit too late [to get into the play-offs]. But we will try and win as many games as we can and see where that takes us.

"We really should be in the high 50s in terms of points at this stage but we'll keep going and four out of the last seven are against top-six sides so there is a lot to look forward to."

Jackett targets top-two spot

Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett is refusing to look too far ahead but is adamant that his side can still clinch an automatic promotion spot.

Pompey's recent victory against Scunthorpe United closed the gap on second-placed Barnsley to just four points and they are 7/5 to beat Shrewsbury Town on Saturday. The Shrews are 5/1 to be relegated from League One while Portsmouth are 10/1 to finish in the top two.

Jackett said: "As far as you can, you have to prepare for one game at a time. All of your energy has to be focused on the next one.

"But when you look at the big picture, it does change slightly because we're going to need a high number of points from the 24 that are still available. We've crept into the 70s now in terms of points and know that, if we want to go up, we'll need to be around 90.

"We're four and nine points respectively off the sides that are currently second and first, so we have to keep pushing and know it's still possible."

Shrewsbury reached the League One play-offs last season but have struggled this term and are in danger of sliding into the fourth tier of English football.

Jackett added: "The bottom half of the season is so tight – it's unbelievable. There are a number of teams that will need points on the board sooner rather than later. We understand Shrewsbury will be fighting for their lives, but have to show our quality and it's an opportunity for us to keep pushing for those promotion places."

Ferguson eyes late push

Darren Ferguson does not think it is impossible for Peterborough United to secure promotion to the Championship this season.

Posh have handed Ferguson, who is in his third spell as manager at London Road, a three-year deal.

The former Doncaster Rovers manager replaced Steve Evans in January and was initially set to stay with the club until the end of the current campaign.

Peterborough are currently in eighth in the League One table and 33/1 to be promoted this season, while Doncaster are 4/1 to go up.

Ferguson said: "Things have changed since I was last here, like the new owners working alongside the chairman, who I know very well and we have an excellent relationship.

"The potential of getting into the Championship is always there, that is always the most appealing thing for me. I need to be aiming to get in the Championship and stay there.

"The club have got fantastic potential, the best position it has been in since the last time I left. We want to build a squad and group of players who tie in with that, fairly young, lots of energy, drive and ambition which matches ours."

Peterborough are 10/11 to beat relegation-threatened Southend United in their next match on Saturday.

"We've got eight games left of this season to try and get into the Championship – that is not dead and buried yet," Ferguson added. "I'm raring to go, as is (assistant manager) Gavin (Strachan), and we will give it our best."

Bowyer seeks change of luck

Bradford City manager Gary Bowyer is desperate for his struggling team to create more chances as they attempt to avoid relegation from League One.

The Bantams have endured a terrible campaign and are currently rooted to the foot of the table and available at 1/5 to be relegated.

After parting company with Simon Grayson at the end of last season, City began the 2018/19 campaign with Michael Collins in charge.

He was sacked in September and succeeded by David Hopkin, who resigned five months later.

Former Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool boss Bowyer was appointed manager at Valley Parade earlier this month and handed the task of lifting Bradford out of the relegation zone. They can be backed at 17/10 to beat Blackpool on Saturday.

Bowyer said: "We've got to look forward to Saturday now. Our debrief on Monday was focused on what we could do better ourselves. We've got to concentrate on what we can control, the energy levels, training and continuing on to the next game.

"We need to create more. We had two or three good passages of play [in the 1-0 defeat at Oxford] and then the key moment which is what we hung in the game for.

"That's how quickly things can change – and it can change back just as quickly. That's what we've been telling the boys."

Hurst predicts tough battle

Shrewsbury Town boss Paul Hurst is expecting a tight and difficult game against Rotherham United in Sunday's League One play-off final.

The 43-year-old former Grimsby Town manager took charge at the New Meadow in October 2016 and has transformed the Shrews, who were not among the promotion favourites at the start of the campaign.

Hurst spent almost his entire playing career with Rotherham between 1993 and 2008 featuring in more than 400 league matches for the Millers.

He said: "I guess it's me against my former club, but ultimately it's not about me, it's about the players.

"I think we're seen as a physical team and from that point of view there are some similarities between the two. We both have very committed players, very honest and hard-working. They are traits that I know Paul Warne will be proud of to have in his team.

"We have played games where we have run over the top of them and had too much of a strong will for them. I don't think that will happen on Sunday. You would expect a tight game with everything considered, including previous meetings and records.

"We have got to be fully committed and put on a good performance to have a chance of winning that game and ultimately winning promotion."

Rotherham are 4/6 to be promoted to the Championship while Shrewsbury are 11/10 to go up.

New man in for the Mackems

Sunderland have appointed Jack Ross as their new manager on a two-year deal.

The 41-year-old was in high demand having been tracked by both Barnsley and Ipswich after leading St Mirren to the Scottish Championship title.

A second successive relegation and an impending takeover by Stewart Donald saw Chris Coleman sacked last month after the club's demotion was confirmed.

With the sale completed earlier this week, Ross will take charge of a Mackems side set to feature in the third tier for the first time since 1988 and looks to have a rebuilding job on his hands after years of treading water.

The move to appoint the Scot is part of a broader managerial shake-up as Donald and the other members of the new hierarchy aim to get the Wearsiders back on track.

After enjoying successful spells at both Alloa and St Mirren, the new boss says he is excited about the task of reinvigorating a club he feels has all the ingredients to succeed.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to take charge of an incredible football club," Ross told the club's official website. "If you look the history, the facilities and most important of all, the fanbase, you can see what this club can be. To be part of the team to help realise that potential is something that fills me with excitement.

"There's a lot of work to be done in re-shaping the squad to ensure that we hit the ground running in League One, and I can't wait to get started."

Meanwhile, Sunday sees the League One Play-Off Final between Rotherham and Shrewsbury at Wembley.

The Millers are 4/6 to be promoted, with the Shrews 11/10.

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Robinson leaves The Valley

Charlton Athletic have decided to end Karl Robinson's 16-month stint in charge at The Valley and appointed Lee Bowyer as caretaker manager.

Johnnie Jackson will assist former Leeds United midfielder Bowyer, who will prepare the Addicks for Saturday's game against play-off rivals Plymouth Argyle.

Charlton are five points away from the play-off places with a game in hand over the sixth-placed Pilgrims.

Addicks director Richard Murray said: "I'd like to place on record our thanks to Karl Robinson who has worked tirelessly during his time at Charlton. The club and Karl came to an agreement that is best for everyone involved.

"We're very grateful to Lee Bowyer and Johnnie Jackson for stepping forward in the club's time of need. Lee has impressed everyone at The Valley since coming back to the club last year and Johnnie has Charlton running through his veins. Together they are the best people to lead the club through an important few weeks."

Bowyer made 58 appearances for Charlton before moving to Leeds in 1996. He also had spells at West Ham United, Newcastle United, Birmingham City and Ipswich Town during his playing career.

Charlton can be backed at 6/5 to beat Plymouth this weekend while they are available at 20/1 to be secure promotion from League One this term.

Mowbray credited with Rovers turnaround

Blackburn Rovers midfielder Elliott Bennett feels the turnaround in the club this season is down to the winning mentality of boss Tony Mowbray.

The 54-year-old arrived at Ewood Park last February and narrowly failed to keep the club in the Championship on the final day of the season.

That meant a drop into League One, but the former Celtic and Coventry boss has the Lancashire side on track for an immediate return to second tier football next season.

After a slow start to the season, Blackburn have been beaten only once in the league since October.

They've climbed to the summit of League One as a result, with the midweek 3-0 win at AFC Wimbledon giving them four points to spare on second-placed Shrewsbury.

Wigan, currently third, have games in hand on Blackburn and could overhaul them. The Latics come to Ewood Park on Sunday for what could be a defining game in the title race.

Mowbray deserves enormous credit for reversing the fortunes of the club, says Bennett.

"I think a massive part of it is the manager,” Bennett said of Rovers current position. "From when he came in he completely changed the mindset within the group and what he demands from each and every player.

"What he won't accept is not working hard and when we do that we've got fantastic quality at the top end of the pitch as you see with Bradley Dack's goals (at Wimbledon).

"That what it's about, it's the whole group. Since the gaffer has been here that's what he demands."

Blackburne are 8/5 to beat Wigan on Sunday. The visitors are 7/4, while the Ewood Park stalemate is 11/5.

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