Feature Game: Wycombe Wanderers vs Morecambe
Wycombe Wanderers: (5-3-2) Stockdale; Grimmer, Stewart, Tafazolli, Jacobson, McCarthy; Scowen, Thompson, Kaikai; Vokes, Hanlan
Morecambe: (4-3-3) Letheren; McLaughlin, O’Connor, Wootton, Gibson; Phillips, Diagouraga, McCalmont; McDonald, Stockton, Gnahoua
Preview: Improving Morecambe face another tricky test as they travel to Adams Park to take on Wycombe Wanderers.
Defender Anthony Stewart kept his spot in the starting eleven after the club won their appeal following his sending-off against The Dons, and he was an integral part of them being able to get back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Shrewsbury Town during midweek to move them back into the play-off places. Jacobson and Tafazolli were on target against The Chairboys, taking their tally of different goal scorers to ten, and so Ainsworth will be encouraged by the fact that his side have shown a real togetherness and are all contributing to their efforts.
Hanlan was brought into the starting eleven last time out, and so it will be interesting to see if The Chairboys boss will shuffle his pack once again, with McCleary, Horgan and Akinfenwa all good options to be pushing for a recall. They will be eager to follow up their first win in three games with another to put concerted pressure on those sides around them in the play-off places.
For Morecambe, they come into this game with a new-found sense of confidence and belief after three games without defeat. After a defeat to Doncaster Rovers, Shrimps boss Stephen Robinson would have been disappointed and a little concerned with his side, but the three games that have followed have restored faith in his methods as they have embarked on a 3-game unbeaten run to move up to 14th in the table. The win last time out against Lincoln City was a really impressive one, even if The Imps have struggled so far this term, with a convincing 2-0 win not only adding another three points to their tally, but saw them register a much-needed clean sheet.
Forward Cole Stockton was on target again for Morecambe in victory over City, as he continues to prove himself as one of the best forwards in the division. The goal against The Imps takes his tally to eleven goals for the season in league and cup, and that maintains his spot as the leading scorer in the division. Robinson will be pleased with the way he has started the season, and he will hope that he can continue to spearhead their efforts going forward.
Prediction: Wycombe Wanderers 2-1 Morecambe
The Shrimps are in a good vein of form, and this represents another really useful assessment for manager Stephen Robinson of his side and their ability to be competitive at the top end of the division. The hosts sit three points and five places above Morecambe in the table, and a win for the away side will actually move The Chairboys below their opponents, and so Ainsworth will be eager for his side to grind out a win here. I am expecting a close game, but I am going for a 2-1 win for Wanderers, with Hanlan and Kaikai on target for the home side and Stockton adding another for his tally here.
One to Watch: Brandon Hanlan – The forward was brought into the starting eleven last time out, and the former Gas man lead the line well for Ainsworth’s side. Against a Morecambe defence that have conceded a fair amount of goals this term, he will fancy himself to be a threat in this one, get in behind with his intricate movement and perhaps get on the scoresheet.
Accrington Stanley vs Ipswich Town
Preview: Accrington have won just one of their last six games and have conceded 14 goals in their last 4. In amongst them they struggled to beat a Morecambe side who played for 52 minutes with just ten men last weekend thanks to Jack Nolan’s calamitous back pass gifting Cole Stockton with a 1 on 1. In mid-week they were humiliated by Oxford on the road losing 5-1 with John Coleman opting to switch to a back four with Yeboah Amankwah coming in at right back Sam Sheering switching from the left of a back three to left back. Accrington will be without Ross Sykes who picked up his fifth booking of the season on Tuesday night so I expect Mitchell Clark to come in but whether Coleman plays a three or a four at the back will be interesting to see.
Ipswich’s recent opponents had been due a beating on Doncaster were on the end of that on Tuesday night. The tractor boys embarrassed their opposition with Lee Evans scoring a hat trick while Macauley Bonne got a brace. The most impressive thing about Ipswich for me is that they have gone from conceding 15 goals in six games to just conceding one in three which was from outside the area. The key part of this is a settled back four of Donacien, Edmundson, Burgess and Penney who have the lowest expected goals from open play against. While midfielder Sam Morsy made his debut for a club in which with players like Bersant Celina, George Edmondson and Bonne down the spine I expect to go on an impressive run that will see them rocket up the league.
Prediction: Accrington Stanley 0-4 Ipswich Town
It’s hard to see anything but an Ipswich win. Another battering for Coleman’s men to endure with Bonne and Celina scoring braces a piece and the Tractor Boys prevailing 4-0 winners.
One to Watch: Macauley Bonne – Ipswich striker Bonne has seven goals in eight games and caught the headlines after his cheeky pantomime role for Ipswich’s equaliser last week. The Ipswich born striker wore the armband in mid-week and this weekend he will run an Accrington defence ragged especially without Ross Sykes.
AFC Wimbledon vs Burton Albion
Preview: Wimbledon have lost their last four games in all competitions and come into this having dried up in the goal-scoring department. After scoring 15 goals in their opening seven league games, they have now only scored one in their last three. The Dons have a good home record though and have already beaten sides like Portsmouth and Oxford United at home and only losing once to an impressive Plymouth team. Ayoub Assal will be back for this one after missing the trip to Rotherham through suspension and I think Wimbledon are clearly a better side with him in, it was clear that the midfield was too cramped without him, and he adds width and more creativity.
Burton got their first win in seven games when they beat Portsmouth at home on Tuesday night 2-1. Sheffield United striker Daniel Jebbison was linked with Everton before staying at The Blades in the summer before moving on loan to Burton; he got his first goal for the club in mid-week and will be hoping it’s the first of many. Both Burton goals came from the team pressing high up the pitch and winning the ball back against a Portsmouth side who tried to play out from the back. Wimbledon will try to do the same, so I expect Burton to press high again and make it hard for Wimbledon to play out from the back.
Prediction: AFC Wimbledon 2-1 Burton Albion
AFC Wimbledon will win 2-1 thanks to goals from Ayoub Assal and Ethan Chislett while Jebbison will hit back for Burton.
One to Watch: Daniel Jebbison – Sheffield United loanee Jebbison got off the mark in midweek and I think the way he took his goal shows he’s going to be a threat to many defences.
Bolton Wanderers vs Shrewsbury Town
Preview: Bolton had lost two games in a row against Rotherham and Sunderland before going 1-0 down to Charlton after 12 minutes and you could forgive Bolton fans for thinking, maybe we aren’t as good as we thought. However, Dapo Afolayan and Keiran Lee had other ideas, Afolayan scored just before half time helping Ian Evatt’s team talk before Keiran Lee got two goals and an assist in the second half. The worry for Evatt is they struggle to break down sides that sit deep and are defensively strong. In the league the trotters have failed to score in four of their last six and two of those were against Burton and Cambridge who you wouldn’t have as sides you would expect Bolton to struggle against.
Shrewsbury have won one game in their last five although they turned a corner it seemed at Hillsborough where they managed to take a point. That was followed by a win at home to AFC Wimbledon, but they were soon brought back down to earth by Wycombe on Tuesday night. Wycombe are a solid league one side who many sides will struggle to beat and all of a sudden Steve Cotterill has found he has options up front with Sam Cosgrove, Ryan Bowman, Daniel Udoh and teenager Tom Bloxham who scored a remarkable overhead kick on his debut for the club last month.
Prediction: Bolton Wanderers 3-0 Shrewsbury Town
Bolton will win 3-0 thanks to goals from Eoin Doyle, Antoni Sarcevic and Dapo Afolayan.
One to Watch: Dapo Afolayan – Bolton winger Dapo Afolayan already has five goals this season which is remarkable after he only got one in 21 in league two last season. The ex-West Ham youngster not only has goals in his game but his pace and trickery in the final third gives full back nightmares.
Cheltenham Town vs Rotherham United
Preview: Cheltenham were absolutely battered by Sunderland in mid-week 5-0 and were beaten by Wigan 2-0 last weekend. Both games were away from home at really difficult places, but I expect Michael Duff to be disappointed with his sides defending especially as a manager who prides himself on being tight at the back. The robins have never really scored lots of goals under Duff but have a strong home record at the Johnny-Rocks Stadium and that’s the case this season with Oxford and Ipswich both being beaten there.
Rotherham drew with Crewe last weekend 1-1 after they didn’t take their chances and were made to pay after Wes Harding gave away a penalty. In mid-week they learnt their lesson and beat Wimbledon 3-0 taking their chances this time out. The Millers seemed to bypass the midfield an awful lot and didn’t really keep control of the ball however they still managed to create chances and be clinical when they came. The Millers have started well and will be looking to keep it up going into an international break in which I expect League One to have only a couple of games on.
Prediction: Cheltenham Town 0-1 Rotherham United
I think Rotherham will prevail in a tight game winning 1-0 thanks to a goal from Will Grigg.
One to Watch: Ollie Rathbone – Rotherham midfielder Ollie Rathbone has been great for the millers and his role in the heart of midfield has helped improve the team.
Crewe Alexandra vs Cambridge United
Preview: Crewe have either won 1 in five or only lost 1 in five depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty. They have recorded good draws away from home against solid sides in Rotherham and Plymouth who have both started the season well. However, these are only solid results if they can back it up with a win at home especially against a newly promoted side in Cambridge. They are currently sat in the relegation places with only seven points and have one of the worst home records in the league but having only played four games at home.
Cambridge have had an inconsistent start to the season with impressive wins over Portsmouth 2-1 and Bolton 1-0 being overshadowed by a 5-1 defeat to Lincoln at home and losing to Gillingham 2-0 at home this mid-week. Against the Gills, Cambridge decided to go 4-4-2 with Wes Hoolahan out injured although it really didn’t work as Gillingham were too strong for them. The U’s defensively were poor which is so uncharacteristic for them but as you can see from their previous scores they win games you don’t expect and lose games you would expect them to lose. This one could be another hiccup for the unpredictable Cambridge side.
Prediction: Crewe Alexandra 2-0 Cambridge United
Crewe will win 2-0 thanks to goals from Scott Kashket and Mikael Mandron as Cambridge will struggle to deal with their physicality.
One to Watch: Scott Kashket – Former Wycombe striker Kashket scored his first goal for Crewe against Plymouth in midweek. Kashket came in as Crewe started getting results which I think is no coincidence with his league one experience.
Doncaster Rovers vs MK Dons
Preview: Doncaster are sat at the bottom of the league with only four points from nine games. They are already six points from safety and were humiliated in mid-week when they lost 6-0 away at Ipswich. It gets worse for Doncaster as defender Tom Anderson is a doubt for the weekend and Joseph Oluwu has been ruled out of this one with concussion. The one positive I have for Dons fans Is that all four of their points so far this season have come at home where they have only played three of their nine league games so far and performances at the Keepmoat will be crucial to the sides chances of staying up.
MK Dons are unbeaten in eight games in the league and the board deserve full credit for identifying a manager who suits their style of play in Liam Manning and making him number one target pulling out all the stops to get him. In mid-week they drew 3-3 with Fleetwood in a game where Scott Twine stole the headlines getting a hat trick, but this attack is the best in the league with twenty goals and has an array of goal-scoring options in Troy Parrott, Mo Eisa and Max Watters. Defensively they missed 37-year-old Dean Lewington who has played left of a back three and Manning has done brilliantly to convert him into a ball playing central defender after his days of playing left back.
Prediction: Doncaster Rovers 0-4 MK Dons
MK Dons will batter Doncaster 4-0 heaping pressure on Richie Wellens with goals from Scott Twine and a Max Watters hattrick.
One to Watch: Scott Twine – MK Dons attacking midfielder Scott Twine has been brilliant since joining in the summer. The playmaker has already scored six goals in ten appearances and will be in the mood for more this weekend against a Doncaster defence that’s on the back of conceding six in mid-week.
Fleetwood Town vs Charlton Athletic
Preview: Fleetwood are unbeaten in their last six games but have drawn four of them including their last three. They are yet to keep a clean sheet in the league, but Simon Grayson and the chairman Andy Pilley have decided to take the club in a different direction with the club giving opportunities to youngsters who have come from non-league or through the academy such as Paddy Lane, Ged Garner, Jay Matete and Harrison Biggins. Defensively they must improve if they are to stay up and finish mid-table which they’ll be hoping to do and it’s a bit of a shock to say that about a Simon Grayson team.
Charlton manager Nigel Adkins must be feeling the pressure now. The Addicks have only won once all season and owner Thomas Sandgaard will not settle for poor performances for a long time with him expecting a top six finish again this season and where they are currently is 2nd bottom with 6 points on the board. They are 4 points from safety and what worries me most about the management is that it’s the end of September and Adkins still doesn’t know his best team. In mid-week he made five changes from Saturday in which he had already made five changes from the game prior to that. I believe this is do or die for the ex-Southampton manager.
Prediction: Fleetwood Town 2-0 Charlton Athletic
Fleetwood will win, spelling the end for Nigel Adkins. Simon Grayson’s men will prevail 2-0 thanks to goals from Garner and Paddy Lane.
One to Watch: Ged Garner – Fleetwood striker Ged Garner has really matured this season with four goals in nine games including two in mid-week against a strong MK Dons side.
Gillingham vs Wigan Athletic
Preview: Gillingham ended a five-match winless run on Tuesday night after beating Cambridge 2-0. The gills fully deserved all three points on Tuesday night and dominated Cambridge with their physicality and aerial dominance helping them to prevail victorious. Gillingham have only won one game in their last four at home, however they’ve only lost once when MK Dons came to town and battered them 4-1. Steve Evans loves a challenge and I think he won’t mind coming into this as the underdogs.
Wigan were sitting pretty before Tuesday night when they had gone seven games unbeaten winning their last five. However, that all changed on Tuesday when Wednesday came to town. The Tics gifted Wednesday with an opener after Max Power headed into his own net following a calamitous mix up with goalkeeper Ben Amos. They struggled to deal with the physicality of Wednesdays front two of Lee Gregory and Callum Paterson and will need to get used to it as they’ll come up against another front pair in John Akinde and Vadaine Oliver who will cause a lot of the same problems they had to deal with on Tuesday.
Prediction: Gillingham 1-2 Wigan Athletic
This will be closer than most expect with Wigan just scraping a narrow 2-1 win thanks to goals from Charlie Wyke and Callum Lang after an early scare from John Akinde.
One to Watch: Callum Lang – Wigan attacker Callum Lang has three goals and two assists in his opening nine games for the club. His link up play with Charlie Wyke has helped Wigan get to where they are not just this season but with his performances at the end of last season too.
Lincoln City vs Plymouth Argyle
Preview: Lincoln are very inconsistent in the league having got seven points from their last five games which includes a 5-1 win away at Cambridge, a draw with Rotherham and a loss to Morecambe. Lincoln lost 2-0 to Morecambe in mid-week and were absolutely appalling with manager Michael Appleton clearly unhappy with his side, when asked about his substitution of Hakeeb Adelakun at half time Appleton said he was poor and clearly frustrated by how bad his whole side were. Conor McGrandles has clearly been missed in midfield and I think they’ll need to start getting results soon. Especially as the imps have the worse home form in the league where they have only beat Fleetwood in their first home game.
Ryan Lowe’s Plymouth on the other hand have been the surprise package of the season in League one for me. The pilgrims haven’t lost since opening day and Ryan Lowe really has got his players singing off the same hymn sheet. Lowe’s best management this season so far has come by getting the best out of Luke Jephcott again. The youngster had such a good start to last season before going ages without finding the net, then this season he has been key to how well Plymouth have started the season with his partnership with Ryan Hardie. The only slight worry I’d have for them is that they haven’t played many difficult sides away from home and when they did it was Rotherham in a game they lost.
Prediction: Lincoln City 1-1 Plymouth Argyle
These two will share the spoils here with a 1-1 draw after a goal from Ryan Hardie is cancelled out by Anthony Scully.
One to Watch: Ryan Hardie – Plymouth striker Ryan Hardie has seven goals and an assist in the opening 10 games of the season. That’s already more than he got all of last season and his goals and partnership with Jephcott is crucial.
Portsmouth vs Sunderland
Preview: It feels like the pressure is on Danny Cowley for the first time in his managerial career even when he was at Huddersfield, I never thought it was this bad. Portsmouth sit on 12 points but that’s thanks to their early season form since then they have gone seven games without a win. They may have only played two of those at home but I feel like they have to start well on Saturday afternoon or the fans will get on their back which never goes well for the team and inevitably the manager. I think Reeco Hackett-Fairchild may be due a start after coming off the bench on Tuesday night and impressing many. The error’s Portsmouth made playing out from the back is my worry with Burton picking them off so easily, I’d expect Sunderland to do the same.
Sunderland battered a hapless Cheltenham in mid-week 5-0 and it could have quite easily been by more goals. It propelled Sunderland to the top of the league and they have only lost one game so far all season which was away at Burton. The black cats are unbeaten in six league games, and I have been impressed by Ross Stewart stepping up and proving he is more than capable of being the man that replaces Charlie Wyke. Aidan McGeady has also continued his impressive form which saw him get so many assists last season while Everton loanee Nathan Broadhead came in on Saturday and was very impressive in the place of Lyndon Gooch. My one worry for Sunderland is their lack of games played away from home, they’ve only played three, won one, drew one, lost one and if they’re to finish in the top six they will need to pick up more results than that on the road.
Prediction: Portsmouth 0-2 Sunderland
Sunderland will prevail 2-0 thanks to a brace from Ross Stewart heaping more pressure on the Cowley’s.
One to Watch: Ross Stewart – Sunderland striker Ross Stewart has scored seven goals in nine games and is proving to be a key striker for The Mackems. His goals will be pivotal to a promotion push if he can keep finding the net and the pressure is on the Scottish man Leon Dajaku coming off the bench in mid-week to score.
Sheffield Wednesday vs Oxford United
Preview: Wednesday got their first win in five games on Tuesday night when they overcame big spending Wigan away from home winning 2-1. The owls opted to go with a two-pronged attack whilst playing a four four two formation with Callum Paterson and Lee Gregory leading the line for them. Both attackers caused the defence problems especially for the second goal when Gregory’s chasing down helped create Paterson with the chance which he took brilliantly. At the other end of the field goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell atoned for his error last weekend pulling off a string of superb saves justifying his manager’s faith in him. Barry Bannan was also benched for the owls on Tuesday due to injury, but I still think Wednesday would benefit from having him in the team they just need to find a way to play him, Lewis Wing and Dennis Adeniran in the same starting eleven. Wednesday are unbeaten at Hillsborough having only played three of their nine games so far at home and if they want to target the top six they need to keep a strong home record.
Oxford battered Accrington on Tuesday night 5-1 thanks to a Nathan Holland double. It was Oxford’s first win in five league games, and they were superb in front of goal. However, it seemed a different story at the back as the yellows struggled to deal with Accrington’s attacking intent. They were dominant in the air and it could have been closer had Ross Sykes’ header at 2-0 was cleared off the line in what seemed like a turning point in the game as Matt Taylor went up the other end and scored for Oxford moments later. Oxford are still without an away win this season and this weekend they may struggle against Wednesday’s aerial dominance if they stick with Paterson and Gregory up front.
Prediction: Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 Oxford United
Wednesday will come out winners 3-1 after goals from Lee Gregory and a Callum Paterson brace while Matt Taylor will score for the visitors.
One to Watch: Callum Patterson – Wednesday striker Callum Paterson has a goal and assist to his name this season having not featured regularly. His work ethic is brilliant, and owl’s fans could never fault him and if he can form a partnership with Lee Gregory, they will give many defenders nightmares.