Greenwich Gull

A League 2 blog with an overwhelmingly pro-Torquay United bias

League 2 predictive preview: 18-19 March 2011

Due to the myriad stultifying hardships of moving house, I’ve recently fallen out of my nascent habit of hazarding barely educated guesses at the outcome of League 2 matches. No longer:

Chesterfield 2-0 Rotherham
It would take a truly spectacular collapse for the Spireites not to claim the League 2 title. They’re the division’s highest scorers, averaging an impressive 2.5 goals per game at home. Their erstwhile title rivals Rotherham have stumbled into the playoff melee of late with some indifferent performances and are currently winless in 4 matches. I can see Chesterfield taking the chance to extend their lead at the top even further.

Southend 1-2 Hereford
The Shrimpers haven’t tasted victory in 5 matches and have struggled to keep things tight at home: their defensive record at Roots Hall is League 2’s 3rd most porous. Their visitors struggle even more on their own patch, but have won each of their last 5 away games; only Bury have registered more away triumphs than the Bulls this season. I’m backing Hereford to benefit from Southend’s spell in the doldrums and put further daylight between themselves and the drop zone.

Accrington 2-1 Port Vale
Their first home game of the season proved to be the only league match at the Crown Ground in which Stanley have failed to score, and they’re currently undefeated in 5 matches there. Only leaders Chesterfield boast a better home scoring record, but they’re now up against the division’s 2nd best defence. Vale themselves aren’t notably goal-shy – they’ve found the net in each of their last 9 matches – but they’ve won just 1 won of their last 8 away outings. I can see the early pace-setters tumbling out of the promotion reckoning altogether this weekend.

Aldershot 1-0 Stockport
The Shots are League 2’s 2nd lowest home scorers, and while they won their last home match against Torquay they didn’t prevail in the preceding 4. Despite intermittent flashes of competence, Stockport remain rooted to the bottom of the league and are winless in 7 away matches. Interestingly, while they have the worst defensive record in the division with an eye-watering 82 goals conceded, 9th-placed Crewe ship more away from home. The Hatters can’t match Crewe’s scoring record though: only Bradford have a worse record in front of goal. A narrow Aldershot victory against battling opposition seems on the cards.

Barnet 1-1 Morecambe
The Bees have lost 3 of their last 5 games at Underhill and have the division’s 2nd most abject home defence, which doesn’t bode well. Encouragingly for them, Morecambe haven’t exactly lit up the league themselves and have only registered 1 away win in their last 5 trips; they’ve also failed to score in their last 2 games. I can see these two sides cancelling each other out.

Bradford 1-0 Northampton
While they’re the division’s lowest scorers (the only side to average less than a goal per game), underachievers Bradford haven’t actually been too bad at home: they’ve won 9 but have only drawn once at Valley Parade. Their fellow disappointments Northampton are worryingly winless in 10, have managed just 2 away victories all season and are the 2nd lowest away scorers after their hosts. I can see Bradford stealing a precious 3 points in a nervous encounter.

Burton 2-2 Gillingham
The Brewers have struggled to capitalise on the unravelling of their fixture backlog and continue to perch precariously above the relegation zone thanks to some dire away performances. They’re a much more dangerous proposition at home where they’ve registered 3 wins in their last 5 games, including an impressive triumph over leaders Chesterfield. Another seemingly formidable challenge awaits in the Gills, who are unbeaten in 11 games and are the division’s 3rd highest away scorers. However, they’ve also drawn each of their last 6 away matches and are missing a few bodies in defence, so I can see this trend continuing.

Bury 2-0 Cheltenham
Surprisingly humbled in midweek by an impressive Torquay fightback after a dominant first half performance, Bury remain well placed to challenge for automatic promotion this season. They’ve scored in each of their last 8 home games, have the divisions’s 3rd most prolific attack and the 3rd miserliest defence. Cheltenham in contrast are somewhat less impressive: they have League 2’s 3rd leakiest defence, are winless in 4 away and have lost 3 of their last 4 matches. I can see the Shakers steadying the ship with a straightforward victory.

Macclesfield 1-3 Torquay
Despite hovering in lower mid-table, Macclesfield have now gone 3 games without losing and have netted in each of their last 4 matches. I’m hoping that Torquay’s magnificent recent performances are heralding the start of an immaculately-timed promotion push. Gulls were surprised in a 3-1 reverse when the Silkmen visited Plainmoor earlier this season, but they’ve won 3 of their last 4 matches and I’m excitedly backing them to restore balance to the universe here.

Oxford 1-2 Crewe
Oxford are Bradford-esque at the Kassam Stadium in that draws seldom transpire there. United still sit in the top half of the table despite it being a while since the impressive run of form which propelled them there ended. They’ve lost 4 of their last 5 matches, although were able to find the net in the last 4 of these. While Crewe’s home form remains impressive, they’ve been abject on their travels, losing their last 7 away matches and having the division’s worst away defensive record. Conversely, only Bury have a better scoring rate away from home and Dario Gradi’s young side have kept 2 successive clean sheets, so I can see them turning a corner here.

Shrewsbury 0-1 Wycombe
The Shrews have now endured 3 home games without a win, despite having League 2’s 4th best home defence, and they’ll probably still be smarting from their shock 5-0 annihilation at Plainmoor last weekend. Wycombe will be keen to maintain their foothold in the automatic promotion places and have scored in each of their last 4 matches on the road, which leads me to believe that they’ll have the edge here.

Stevenage 3-1 Lincoln
Graham Westley’s physical side are the division’s 4th highest scorers and remain in the hunt for a playoff place, although this quest has been frustrated by their propensity for registering home draws this season. However, they boast League 2’s tightest defence and are the only side who’ve conceded fewer than a goal per game. The visiting Imps have lost the services of captain Delroy Facey for the remainder of the season and haven’t won in 4 attempts away from Sincil Bank. While they’ve scored in their last 11 outings, I can’t see them returning with anything from this encounter.

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This entry was posted on March 18, 2011 by in predictions, preview.
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