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League One Weekend Preview

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Back to League One action this weekend after that joyous foray into cup football last weekend. It’s all shaping up nicely in the Third Tier – here’s how Jack Watson thinks this weekend’s games will go down.

All fixtures take place Sat 12th November at 3pm unless stated.

Coventry v Scunthorpe

After the 3-1 defeat to Charlton in the FA Cup this week, Scunthorpe will be keen to bounce back with another league win but, while this competition is perhaps their priority for the rest of the season, on form Coventry aren’t a nice team to travel to at present. 4 wins in 6 have transformed their season and dragged them out of trouble.

The Iron’s six game record is identical to the Sky Blues, and Coventry – while 22nd in the table on away form – are the 9th best side at home and will be a threat. Neither side has any new injuries to worry about, and I expect a good game here.

Prediction – Draw

Bradford v Rochdale

Another team to suffer in the FA Cup was Bradford, who suffered a surprise home defeat to Accrington Stanley of League Two. Their league form hasn’t quite been all that recently, but a late 3-2 victory at Wimbledon last time out marked their first win in four. They’re unbeaten at home, but draw a lot so might not be as difficult as their current 3rd place suggests.

Rochdale have had red hot patches this season, but a narrow 1-0 win against 22nd place Oldham last week was their only win in their last three. I think they’re a great team on their day, and their touching tribute to you Josh McCormack gave us all a glimpse of the beautiful side of the beautiful game, but I can only see one winner here.

Prediction – Home win (just)

Bury v Southend

It’s been a funny old season for Bury. Had they won against Scunthorpe on October 1st they’d have gone top of the table. Instead, they lost 2-1 and have lost all five games since, slipping to 15th – which shows just how tight this division is. Throwing a 2-0 lead away in the FA cup to draw and some stick coming from their fans won’t help matter either. They’ll be desperate for the slide to stop this weekend.

Southend, however, will prove a challenge – just one loss in 7, and they’ve only once conceded more than one goal in a game in that time to high-flying Rochdale. Sometimes, though, football reminds us we need to throw the form book out the window now and then. I think this will be one of those games.

Prediction – Home win

Chesterfield v Sheff Utd (Sunday 13th at 14:15)

Two teams of starkly contrasting fortunes. Chesterfield sit a point from bottom, with that solitary point being their only one in eight games. The Blades haven’t lost any of the last 10 and look like a side dying to get back up to the second tier. They’re looking capable as well.

The hosts need Ched Evans, their top scorer, to keep firing because, aside from Conor Wilkinson on four, there’s not a lot of goals in this team. I don’t expect him to give his former team much trouble mind you.

Prediction – Away win

Gillingham v Northampton

Gillingham might have hoped this would be an easier fixture at the start of the season – at home to a newly promoted team? Easy.

Or not. They currently sit 19th, their last win was against Coventry (who were bottom at the time) in September and they’ve just three points since, which came against bottom half teams. Luckily Jay Emmanuel-Thomas has been on form this season, but they need him now more than ever.

Northampton’s attack is currently second to only Scunthorpe’s and Gillingham’s defence joins Shrewsbury’s as the league’s worst. When you’ve only really got one player scoring as well your attack is much easier to stifle, and as leaky as The Cobblers’ defence has been as well, they should see this one out.

Prediction – Away win

MK Dons v Walsall

The Dons have one of the best away records this season – 5th best in fact. Shame, then, that they’ve been so poor in front of their own fans with just three points in eight games all season – the worst of the lot, prompting the departure of manager Karl Robinson after 6 excellent years. That will throw my prediction awry because, when teams lose a manager/gain a new one, they often do quite well during transition. Fresh blood, ideas and voices might be what they need.

Walsall are unbeaten in five games, winning three, and have just one loss in nine to climb impressibely up the table. Off form, managerless, against a difficult opponent on the ground they’ve not won on all season? Only one thing for it then!

Prediction – Home win

Millwall v Bristol Rovers

Millwall had been on a pretty rotten run, but they’ve picked it up since mid-October. Three wins from four – two against promotion-chasers – and a defeat to Bolton in that time tell me they know how to handle the big boys. No clean sheets in that little run, but The Lions are scoring goals all over while Bristol Rovers have let in as many as 21st placed Swindon.

Bristol Rovers have been on a good run of their own – seven wins in nine games, and they’re 5th now. They don’t lose to anyone who isn’t on their best form on the day, but I think Millwall will be quite close to that, and they will rely on 11-goal man Matt Taylor to keep them above water.

Prediction – Draw (and a good game)

Oldham v Wimbledon

Oldham Athletic have been, on the face of it, on a pretty poor run – just 9 points in their last ten games. However, two wins in their last five, including a 2-0 win against Scunthorpe United, and they’ve also played Bolton (2nd), Rochdale Bristol Rovers (5th) and Rochdale (7th) in the last four games without embarrassing themselves in any of the games.

Stephen Robinson, in his first manager job, started the season with just seven contracted players and has got them playing better as the season has progressed. They’re tricky to break down, and I’d like to see their belief grow with a result at home this week. Wimbledon’s away form, however, is exceptional, even if their home form is relegation-standard. Very tough call this one… but I’m going to root for pure spirit and belief over form and quality.

Prediction – Draw

Peterborough v Bolton (Sun 13th at 12:15)

The last time the two teams played at London Road in 2012 it ended 5-4 to The Posh. Peterborough might score a hatful at times, and concede a few as well, but I can’t see that happening again. They’re pretty up and down lately, winning one week and losing the next, and very hard to predict.

Bolton are a different animal though. Just 11 goals conceded – one in five consecutive wins – and just 20 goals scored ranks them among the lowest of teams on both counts. They’re suddenly looking like a top-two side, impossible to break down, and will win again to keep the pressure on The Iron.

Prediction – Away win

Port Vale v Fleetwood

Since looking like fighting for a place in play-offs recently, these two have dropped a little lately and both sit side by side on 22 points, and this is a super tricky call. Port Vale have the second best home record in the league, but haven’t won in four games. Fleetwood’s form is a little better, but they’re 16th on the away league table with just one away win since August

Both sides have goalscorers, both sides have a defence doing an ok job… there’s so little between them. A look at Port Vale’s recent home results, though, tell us one thing – draws to Charlton and Oxford, defeat to Coventry and victories against Gillingham and Millwall. They’ve not had a tough run at home, and Fleetwood should be a bit more of a challenge.

Prediction – Away win

Shrewsbury v Oxford Utd

They may be bottom of the league, but the pasting of Barnet in the FA Cup last weekend was just what Shrewsbury needed. While other teams around them struggled against much ‘lesser’ opposition, The Shrews cruised to a 3-0 win to follow a hard fought 1-1 draw away at Southend in the league. Paul Hurst has the potential to make them a little trickier to beat and, five points from safety, it won’t take long before a few confident performances get them out of trouble.

Oxford haven’t quite been firing on all cylinders lately, but they’ve had some good recent wins among what’s been a difficult run of fixtures. Neither Bradford nor Bolton could cope with them, and on their day Oxford can be brilliant. It depends on whether they turn up or not, but I’m going to say they might just manage a draw in the kind of game Shrewsbury will really want – and need – to win.

Prediction – Draw

Swindon v Charlton (Sat 12th at 12:00)

Charlton fans haven’t had much to sing about lately and have taken issue with the club’s ownership, but a closer look at things tell me they’re not doing bad on the pitch. They’re unbeaten in five in all competitions, beating Scunthorpe in the FA Cup last week, and – although five of these games were draws – they’re lost just once in eight. Oddly, the second best defence in the league as well, so while they’re not scoring many at least they’re not letting a lot in.

Swindon probably won’t be the team to do the job. They themselves have been OK at the back, but too few goals has cost them dear so far with a number of one-goal defeats already. Their top scorer, Michael Doughty, has only two league goals, but at least everyone is chipping in as they’ve had 13 different goalscorers already. It’s not enough though – they will struggle to get past Charlton and one goal could nick it for The Addicks.

Prediction – (Sneaky) Away win

You can follow Jack on twitter @journojackattak




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Written by Matt Blanchard

Part of the team since 2007, before becoming editor in 2013. Undertaken the role of match summariser during Scunthorpe United live match commentaries for BBC Radio Humberside. Seasonal contributor to football titles FourFourTwo and When Saturday Comes and a finalist at the Football Blogging Awards in 2014.

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