A League 2 blog with an overwhelmingly pro-Torquay United bias
This weekend’s predictions are being hammered out exasperatedly on an iPhone from a car meandering North to the Lake District, so apologies for any additional liberties I end up taking with the English language, as well as the disjointed brevity and lacklustre formatting:
Lincoln 2-1 Rotherham
The Imps are the division’s lowest home scorers but will fancy their chances given Rotherham’s current disarray. Battered 5-0 by leaders Chesterfield and having subsequently dispensed with Ronnie Moore, the Millers are now winless in 5 and have dropped out of the playoff zone. Lincoln have been decent at home lately and could edge this one.
Northampton 1-1 Torquay
Gulls won’t have had much opportunity to train after the midweek win over Cheltenham, although Paul Buckle found time to march the squad into the sea earlier this week. Gary Johnson insists that his side are improving, and he’ll be looking to build on the creditable performance at Bradford to end the Cobblers’ woeful sequence of 11 games without a win. Northampton will be the fresher side having not played in midweek, so I’m going to pessimistically opt for a score draw.
Aldershot 1-1 Accrington
The Shots have now registered 4 (albeit narrow) victories in a row and netted in each of their last 9 games. In-form Stanley held promotion rivals Crewe to a draw in midweek and by my calculations (see last week’s post) have the easiest run-in on paper. However, they’ll need to start turning their away draws into wins if they’re to break into the playoffs – I just can’t see that starting today.
Macclesfield 1-1 Stevenage
The Silkmen dismissed any lingering relegation worries with a solid away win over Morecambe in midweek. They’re now unbeaten in 5 but face a Stevenage side in fine form themselves: their own midweek away triumph was their 4th win on the trot and saw them leap into the playoffs. I can envisage a share of the spoils here.
Morecambe 0-2 Wycombe
Wycombe’s inconsistent form of late hasn’t yet cost them their spot in the automatic promotion places thanks to the equally sporadic performances of the chasing pack, and it’s not as if they’ve been playing badly. They’ll have an ideal opportunity against the stuttering Shrimps, who lost here in midweek. Having netted in their last 5 away matches and benefitting from a full week’s rest, I can’t look past the Chairboys here.
Port Vale 1-2 Bury
The Shakers have a formidable away record and will be looking to put their recent home setbacks behind them and bolster their automatic promotion campaign. Vale are in virtual free fall at the moment and the recent managerial upheaval looks to be wielding a disruptive influence: while they still boast a strong attack I can see Bury proving too much for them.
Stockport 1-0 Southend
The Hatters remain rooted to the foot of the division, but they’ve been noticeably less abject at home lately and will see this as a winnable game. Southend have lost their last 3 away matches and remain maddeningly prone to defensive lapses. The added pressure of needing a result to stay in the playoff hunt, in a match that they really should win, feels like it’ll add a desperate edge that i fancy Stockport to capitalise on.
Bradford 1-1 Shrewsbury
Few goals and few draws is the usual script at Valley Parade in what has been a wholly disappointing season for the Bantams. They’ve been better of late though, only losing 1 of their last 5. Nerves are jangling at Shrewsbury as the playoff race hots up around them – they’re winless in 3 including a 5-0 annihilation at the hands of Torquay. However, they put in a solid performance against fellow high-fliers Wycombe in their last match, so the momentum should allow them to treat the Bradford faithful to a rare score draw.
Barnet 1-0 Chesterfield
The Bees have made one last brave roll of the dice in their fight for survival with the reappointment of Martin Allen. They have one of the toughest run-ins, epitomised by this fixture: Chesterfield are cruising to the title and have a strong away defensive record, so on paper they should walk this one. However, the battling spirit which Allen will look to instil could spring a surprise on the champions-elect, much as Burton achieved a few weeks ago. It may be a romantic notion, but I can see Barnet exposing a complacent Spireites side to breathe fresh life into the relegation battle (cue a 0-6 mauling).
Cheltenham 0-2 Gillingham
Gillingham are unbeaten in 12 but are dangerously close to slipping out of the playoffs thanks to their compulsion to draw away matches. The Robins’ shortcomings were exposed at Torquay in midweek: their inability to control possession will be their undoing against a decent passing side. They’ve only won 1 of their last 5 home matches and they don’t look capable of turning that around against the Gills.
Hereford 1-1 Crewe
Crewe’s abject away run has now reached 8 matches without a win, while Hereford have just 2 home victories to their name this season and are winless in 6 at Edgar Street. Crewe made me look silly the last time I backed them to turn their away form around in a winnable encounter, so I’ll hedge my bets and go for a draw.
Oxford 2-0 Burton
The Brewers aren’t getting much of a return from their fixture backlog, particularly on the road where the goals haven’t flowed this term. Oxford have scored in their last 5 fixtures and don’t draw often at the Kassam Stadium, which doesn’t bode well for their visitors, who are winless in 4. Something tells me that it’ll soon be 5.