A League 2 blog with an overwhelmingly pro-Torquay United bias
Continuing my recent posting frenzy (well by my standards anyway), I submit for your consideration a brief preview of Tuesday night’s League 2 matches:
Aldershot 1-1 Barnet
The Shots have now scored in each of their last 8 games, haven’t been beaten in 5 and have maximum points from their last 3. However, each of those wins was by a single goal and they remain the division’s 2nd lowest home scorers. Barnet may have just 2 away wins to their name and suffer the 2nd leakiest defence in the division, but they’ve put in some creditable performances of late and definitely won’t go down without a fight. The Bees’ league future may be looking bleak, but they’ll see this as one of their easier remaining fixtures – I can see them scrapping hard enough to register a precious away point.
Burton 0-2 Stevenage
Burton’s home record has countered their abject away showing this season and despite their lowly position, the 4 games they have in hand over 23rd placed Barnet means that nobody at the Pirelli is pressing the panic button just yet. They’ve taken some impressive scalps at home and scored in their last 4 matches there, but enter this contest winless in 3. In contrast, their visitors arrive having taken all 9 available points from their latest trio of games. Boro also boast the best away defence in the division and are on the cusp of the playoffs, although they don’t tend to score many on the road either. The ongoing fixture congestion will surely start to take its toll on the Brewers, and I can see Stevenage’s physical approach giving them sufficient edge here.
Crewe 1-0 Accrington
Their away record may be insipid but Alex are formidable on their own patch: only leaders Chesterfield have won more home games and even they concede more frequently than Dario Gradi’s side in their own territory. Crewe’s current run of 3 home wins includes a 2-0 win over the champions-elect, and they’ll be looking to extend that sequence to keep their playoff hopes alive. Accrington if anything have worse travel sickness issues than their hosts, having registered just 3 away wins all season and accruing less than a goal per game on the road. A narrow Crewe victory should keep the promotion race interesting.
Morecambe 2-1 Macclesfield
These two sides are tricky to separate: they currently sit adjacent in the table with the same points total, with their for and against columns each only differing by a single goal. The form book is equally inconclusive: Morecambe have won 3 of their last 5 fixtures – although Christie Park has hardly been a fortress for them lately – while their visitors are unbeaten in 4 matches. Being 9 points clear of danger, neither side should be too worried about relegation and both have mustered enough impressive performances for their fans to expect survival, although a win here would provide a huge morale boost for either. A share of the spoils would be too neat, so I’ll plump for a narrow home win.
Port Vale 2-0 Hereford
The dismissal of Jim Gannon after just 3 months in charge betrays just how disastrous a mistake his appointment was viewed by the Vale hierarchy. Their dipping out of the playoff zone appears to have been the final straw, although the embarrassing conflagration on the team bus a few weeks back can hardly have steadied the ship. Vale Park is no longer a formidable venue, although in goal terms it’s the dullest ground in the league despite its occupants netting in their last 6 matches there. Hereford’s away performances are surreal: while they’ve only won twice at home they’ve racked up 8 victories on the road and had managed 5 in a row before their heavy capitulation at Southend in midweek. The Bulls’ defence is the 3rd worst in the division, and a Vale side free of disruptive influences won’t get many better chances to claim a cathartic win.
Torquay 2-1 Cheltenham
The Gulls have a tough run-in so will need to make the most of their impressive home form: it’s been 13 matches since they last failed to score at Plainmoor and they’re unbeaten in 6 there. Cheltenham ended a poor away run at Gigg Lane in midweek, flying out of the blocks with 2 early goals. This will be a worry for Paul Buckle, given that his side have had to fight their way back from behind in their last 2 matches. However, Torquay will be buzzing after playing their way back into the playoff zone thanks to some astute loan signings in recent months. The return of fans’ favourite Billy Kee from an ankle injury will further lift the team, whose positive passing game tends to flourish more readily on home soil, all of which should prove too much for the Robins.