A rare losing foray last weekend for Adrian Clarke, but if you want the rainbows in life, you sometimes have to put up with the rain! He goes again this weekend
Losing weekends are tough to take, and last Saturday really was a bitter pill to swallow. Peterborough and West Brom shared one of the most end-to-end low-scoring matches you’ll ever see, and my other selection Sutton United were leading their match right up until the 88th minute before a late collapse. That’s football!
We dust ourselves down and go again, with two picks from this weekend’s slimmed-down EFL fixture list…
STANLEY SHOULD BE TOO STRONG FOR THE SHREWS
John Coleman’s Accrington Stanley have claimed three wins from five during a promising start to the new campaign, but there is still a feeling of what might have been at the Wham Stadium.
Going forward, they have missed a glut of simple chances (absolute gifts!), while at the other end of the field, the League 1 minnows are solid and will feel aggrieved to have shipped five goals.
Opta’s xG Expected Goals metric is always a useful marker, and they tell us that in open play alone, Accrington should have had 4 to 5 goals (instead of 2) and were expected to concede 1.3 less.
That backs up my impression that they are a better side than the results have reflected so far – and struggling Shrewsbury Town may bear the brunt of that frustration on Saturday afternoon.
They are not the prettiest of teams, but Coleman’s men are very direct, very powerful in the air, and very strong at set-pieces.
That’s not ideal for the visitors who have leaked three goals from dead-ball situations already, showing a fragility when balls are flung into their box.
Accrington’s excellent frontman Colby Bishop is yet to get off the mark in League 1 this season, too, despite netting three times in the cup competitions. In the absence of strike partner Dion Charles, who is away with Northern Ireland, he will view this weekend as a great opportunity to get his season going.
Joel Mumbongo, on loan from Burnley, or newly recruited Jovan Malcolm, on loan from West Brom, will be his partner in a refreshed front two.
Malcolm, 19, was wanted by Shrewsbury Town boss Steve Cotterill on deadline day but was beaten to the punch.
It’s been a rough start to the campaign for the Shropshire side, who lost their opening four games without scoring.
A vital 2-1 success at home to Gillingham last weekend has bought the manager time, but with key midfielder David Davis suspended for this clash, they are rightly considered underdogs here.
Accrington have already beaten Cambridge United and Doncaster on home turf and will be eyeing up that 100 per cent record retention.
A price of 2.1 on the home win feels pretty generous.
Up against opponents who are low on morale, with a relegation battle looming on the horizon, I’d have been interested in Stanley at a shorter price.
I’m backing Accrington (2.1) to sort their finishing out and take all three points in this one.
THE STAGS & THE SULPHURITES CAN SERVE UP GOALS
Boasting just one clean sheet between them from their opening nine matches combined, I am drawn to a goals angle for Mansfield Town versus Harrogate Town.
Simon Weaver’s side are the only League 2 side left with an unbeaten record, and while they have played a match less than most, that’s an achievement to be proud of. Busy, hardworking, and very attack-minded, the Yorkshiremen have been royally entertaining so far.
Averaging 15 shots per game, the Sulphurites (great nickname) have scored at least once in every game until this point.
Three-goal centre forward Luke Armstrong has been superb at bullying defenders, and new recruit from Wycombe Wanderers, Alex Pattison, has caught the eye too. From central midfield, he has bagged three goals already.
Mansfield Town have thrown good money at yet another promotion bid, and as a consequence, they are stacked with quality in forward areas.
Their season hasn’t got going yet under Nigel Clough, but sooner or later, it will catch fire because the squad is full of quality attackers.
Registering 55 shots from open play in five matches (the second highest in the division behind Salford City), they are the kind of side that will run riot sooner or later.
In midweek Papa Johns Trophy action, their respective reserve sides met, with Harrogate earning a 3-1 success on home turf.
This weekend I anticipate goals again.
The Over 2.5 goals angle appeals at 1.95, so that is a gamble to consider. But with 80% of Mansfield’s matches and 75% of Harrogate’s seeing both teams score, BTTS is my suggested angle here at a price of around 1.75.
It’s a meeting between two positive outfits that are stronger going forward than they are at the back.
- Accrington Stanley to beat Shrewsbury Town (2.14)
- Mansfield Town v Harrogate Town BTTS (1.87)
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