A split slate last week for Adrian Clarke, but he’s hoping to go one better this weekend with two more EFL selections!
I hope you guys were on board the Harrogate train last weekend! I must confess that picking them out to win on the handicap at home to Scunthorpe United felt satisfying as they sat 5-0 up at halftime in a 6-1 win.
I wish they were all that simple!
But for a missed penalty by Gillingham, we would have collected a nice double last time out, but we go again, starting at in-form Swindon Town….
It’s Time For Garnerball to Excite Swindon Fans On Their Own Patch
Swindon Town were the EFL’s crisis club last summer.
Off the pitch, it was chaos under an owner running the place into the ground; on it; they had just six or seven contracted players and no manager.
They looked doomed.
Their resurrection across the last few months has been nothing short of remarkable.
A new owner arrived to bring hope, and his appointment of Ben Garner as head coach and Ben Chorley as Director of Football has so far worked like a dream.
Building a brand-new squad packed with talented and hungry young players with a point to prove, Garner has transformed the culture, style of play and most crucially of all, the team’s fortunes.
An emphatic 2-0 victory at leaders Forest Green Rovers last weekend showcased how far Swindon have come, and as they sit in third place ahead of this weekend’s matches, the Wiltshire club have the look of promotion contenders.
Swindon have had the most shots from open play (121) so far, and at the other end, they have only conceded four times from open play. They are also by some distance the best passing side in the division. There’s a lot to like.
Individually, midfield maestro Ben Gladwin has been outstanding, and in attack, a strike partnership between Ipswich Town loanee Tyreece Simpson and the well-travelled Harry McKirdy is starting to blossom.
Unbeaten away from home (four wins, two draws), they have looked top two material on the road, but until now, it’s not clicked anywhere near as smoothly at The County Ground.
Collecting just five points from five matches there, it is high time their supporters got to see how good they are this weekend.
A week ago, I tipped up Harrogate Town to finally click into gear at home, and I believe Swindon can replicate that this weekend.
Their opponents are 18th placed Rochdale, who arrive on the back of three successive defeats where they failed to score. They are a decent footballing side, but at the moment, they lack a bit of confidence.
It feels like the right time for GarnerBall to cut loose and because their home form has been so patchy, the price being offered on a home win is appealing.
I like the look of backing high-flying Swindon at an odds-against price of 2.26.
Sooner or later, someone will be swept aside by this accomplished and driven young team, and I feel it could be Saturday afternoon.
Go Low In Heavyweight Duel At The New York Stadium
Paul Warne and Danny Cowley are two of the brightest head coaches working outside of the top two divisions right now, and this weekend they lock horns in South Yorkshire.
The construction of a solid defensive platform is vital to both men, which has been reflected in their teams’ respective records after 11 matches.
Rotherham United have kept six clean sheets, and Pompey five.
Football is football, so shutouts don’t always work out, but these two teams have that mentality whenever they go out to perform.
Warne’s Millers come into this clash in better form, collecting 11 points to Portsmouth’s five across the last six games.
That said, Cowley’s south coast crew have enjoyed a fortnight basking in the warm glow of a thumping 4-0 success against Sunderland.
If that wasn’t a confidence booster, I’m not sure what would be.
Statistically, these are the two best pressing teams in League 1.
They are excellent at disrupting the opposition’s flow, so for that reason, I can see this contest developing into a war of attrition.
Providing they both get their shape right and work as tirelessly as each other off the ball, it will not be conducive to a free-flowing affair crammed with chances.
Put it this way; I don’t envisage an end-to-end Fury v Wilder style free-for-all.
There will be no shortage of attacking talent on show. Rotherham’s Michael Smith has seven goals already, and the evergreen Portsmouth star John Marquis has built a career around tidy finishing.
The numbers tell us this is likely to be tight.
Matches involving Pompey have averaged just 2.18 goals this term (3rd lowest), with the Millers averaging not a lot more on 2.27. Therefore I do think it’s logical to consider an ‘Unders’ angle here.
These two excellent outfits should be around the promotion picture come April, but neither will want to hand the other three valuable points.
My selection is Under 2.5 goals which is available at 1.76 with Matchbook.
- Swindon Town to beat Rochdale (2.26)
- Rotherham United v Portsmouth Under 2.5 goals (1.76)
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