Bristol Rovers vs Oxford United
Oxford United will be looking to follow up their win during midweek with another here as they head to Bristol Rovers, who themselves are aiming to make it back-to-back wins in the league.
Bristol Rovers come into the weekend having lost in the cup during midweek, going out at the hands of Crawley Town. Joey Barton will be looking for a response from his players. One player unlikely to feature is youngster Trevor Clarke, who came under undue criticism from his boss that has sparked backlash this week, and from the feeling Barton gave, Clarke is unlikely to play a part, in the starting eleven at least. Last time out in the league, they were at their free-flowing efficient best going forward, running out comfortable 4-0 winners against League One whipping boys Burton Albion. Barton will be looking for his side to build on that and bounce back from their disappointment during midweek.
Oxford United, meanwhile, come into this game off the back of a come-from-behind win on penalties during midweek as they recovered from 2-0 down to take Swansea City all the way in the cup. Karl Robinson would have been pleased with the character of his side to keep themselves in it, and then have the quality – and nerve – to go and win it. They have a new face in the squad, with Kyle Joseph, who was omitted from The Swans squad. Youngster Tyler Goodrham once again impressed at the top end of the pitch with a Man of the Match display and will look to retain his spot in the side, while new recruit Ed McGinty looked assured in goal. Goodrham scored the only goal to win them the game last time out in the league against Cambridge United, and they will be looking for more of the same here.
Key Player – Tyler Goodrham
Karl Robinson has not been afraid in the past to give youngsters their opportunity to shine in the first-team, and it looks like the latest success story from the academy will be Tyler Goodrham, who has impressed since being handed his chance.
Accrington Stanley vs Burton Albion
Accrington were winners last weekend away at Shrewsbury with a solid 1-0 victory. Although not flashy, Stanley came out on top thanks to a Tommy Leigh goal. Accrington followed this up with a defeat to Tranmere Rovers in the Carabao Cup on penalties in midweek. Everton loanee Ryan Astley has featured in both games coming on for the injured Jay Rich-Baghuelou last weekend before starting in midweek. Rich-Baghuelou has been ruled out for the rest of the season with the ankle injury that forced him off last weekend. Stanley have signed defender Baba Fernandes after he was released from Nottingham Forest and although he didn’t feature in midweek, I think he could have a role to play this weekend.
Burton were beaten last weekend 4-0 by Bristol Rovers after centre back Connor Shaughnessy was sent off in the first minute. They followed that up with a 2-0 defeat to League Two Rochdale in the Carabao Cup in midweek. Manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is already under pressure having lost their opening two games by a margin of 7-0 while their early exit from the cup won’t go down well. Especially with it being one of League Two’s relegation favourites. Striker Gassan Ahadme was forced off with a hip injury in midweek and may struggle to be fit in time for this weekend. I expect a reaction from the Brewers otherwise we could already see a manager in danger of losing his job just three games in the season.
Key Player – Korede Adedoyin
Accrington striker Korede Adedoyin scored in midweek’s Carabao Cup game against Tranmere. He also had a massive impact last weekend when he came on and will yet again be pushing for a start this weekend.
Cambridge United vs Exeter City
Cambridge have had a free week unlike most other sides having played their Carabao Cup tie last week. Last weekend they were beaten 1-0 by Oxford United in the last minute. However, they were excellent and defended valiantly for the majority of the match. Mark Bonner has stuck with the 4-2-3-1 that brought so much success last season. Although, Joe Ironside didn’t start last weekend; Sam Smith started up front instead and will keep the competition for places as Cambridge’s attacking options continue to be improved by manager Mark Bonner. Harvey Knibbs especially, has improved massively since Bonner took over.
Exeter have been excellent at the start of the season. The Grecians were victorious last weekend with a comprehensive 4-0 win thanks to goals from Harry Kite, Jevani Brown and Sam Nombe. Young midfielder Harry Kite was excellent having come in for Matt Jay but playing in a slightly different role deeper in the midfield. In midweek they followed that up with an incredible 7-0 win in the Carabao Cup away at Cheltenham. The Carabao Cup win saw the return of Sam Stubbs at centre back who was incredible at the end of last season. Exeter have been incredible so far keeping the same outfield starting line-up as last season with Matt Taylor keeping the squad harmony and togetherness of last season.
Key Player – Sam Nombe
Exeter striker Sam Nombe scored two goals in midweeks win over Cheltenham. He has started the season with four goals in three games and if he stays fit this season, he will be incredible.
Cheltenham Town vs Portsmouth
Cheltenham were absolutely battered in midweek by Exeter 7-0. The Robins made eight changes from last weekend’s 1-0 defeat away at Barnsley and were punished for their changes. Winger Will Ferry was signed on loan from Southampton in midweek and was thrown in at the deep end for his debut just hours later. It is now three defeats in three games for Cheltenham and Wade Elliott has called for this to be a wake-up call for his side. A rather disappointed Elliott’s job to pick the team this weekend will be made easier though as the players he gave a chance to let him down. Cheltenham need a response especially for the fans who stuck with them in midweek when they could have vented their frustrations.
Portsmouth were winners in midweek at Cardiff in the Carabao Cup thanks to goals from Joe Pigott, Ronan Curtis and Colby Bishop. That followed last weekend’s 0-0 away draw at Lincoln in a game where Pompy struggled to take their chances. Portsmouth have signed Crewe Alexandra youngsters Tom Lowery and Owen Dale this week both of whom have impressed previously and have a really high ceiling if they are managed correctly and can put their mind to playing football. I doubt manager Danny Cowley will be too worried about last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Portsmouth still creating lots of chances. It’s when you stop creating chances that manager’s start to worry and Portsmouth look a lot stronger than I expected them too.
Key Player – Joe Piggott
Portsmouth striker Joe Pigott opened his account in midweek for his new club. I expect him to have a great season and form a strong partnership with Colby Bishop.
Derby County vs Barnsley
Derby were beaten last weekend 1-0 by Charlton thanks to a goal from Corey Blackett-Taylor. Derby were dominant for the majority of the game but were caught out on the counter attack once costing them three points. Derby bounced back in midweek with a victory against former manager Nigel Clough’s Mansfield. In midweek more Derby gave opportunities to more youngsters with Jake Rooney and Kwaku Odurah both making debuts for the club. Rooney, the cousin of Wayne was outstanding on the right side of defence. Derby’s signings from the summer were mostly rested with the majority being over 30 and that may mean the return of a Saturday, Tuesday week games next week could cause a headache for Liam Rosenior.
Barnsley were victorious last weekend at home to Cheltenham in the league thanks to a goal from Luke Thomas. They followed that up with a 1-0 away victory in the Carabao Cup thanks to a very late strike from Josh Benson. Last weekend, Barnsley lined up with a 3-4-1-2 with an attacking trio of Luke Thomas, Jack Aitchison and James Norwood. The midfield duo of Josh Benson and Callum Styles was also impressive. Surprisingly Styles who is now a Hungarian international is still a Barnsley player having impressed last season despite relegation. So far this season Michael Duff has gone back towards his first season at Cheltenham where they were promoted with a very solid defence unlike last season where they stayed up based on scoring lots of goals.
Key Player – Jack Aitchison
Barnsley forward Jack Aitchison was a pivotal part of Forest Green’s promotion side last season. He has been brilliant in a front three with James Norwood and Luke Thomas, and it’s now time to add goals to his game.
Ipswich Town vs MK Dons
Ipswich were beaten in midweek 1-0 by League Two Colchester in the Carabao Cup. The Tractor boys did make 10 changes from last weekend’s league tie with Forest Green with only Cameron Burgess keeping his place. Last weekend, they were winners against Forest Green 2-1 although they were lucky to keep hold of their lead with Forest Green having a goal disallowed for offside. The 10 players brought in by Kieran McKenna let themselves down with them having a chance to stake a claim for the starting line-up this weekend. Ipswich have instead gone back into the transfer market bringing in experienced centre back Richard Keogh from Blackpool permanently.
MK Dons were beaten last weekend by Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 as Liam Manning is still searching for his best eleven. MK Dons lost out to a Wednesday side even though they dominated possession. They are still struggling to create opportunities despite dominating possession. While Dean Lewington seems to be struggling with the pace of the league giving away the penalty last weekend. MK Dons were victorious in midweek thanks to a Conor Grant goal at home to Sutton. Liam Manning has gone back to a back four formation with a 4-2-3-1 although with him struggling with Dons tough start I think he could potentially revert back to the three back which brought him lots of success last season.
Key Player – Sam Morsy
Ipswich midfielder Sam Morsy has been excellent since Kieran McKenna took over. He has started the season strongly and scored last weekend. Morsy often makes late runs into the box catching defenders out and this could be a real game changer against MK Dons.
Lincoln City vs Forest Green Rovers
Lincoln have drawn their opening two league games. Last weekend they drew 0-0 away at Portsmouth. Portsmouth dominated against Lincoln but failed to get on the scoresheet with the imps lucky to cling on for a point. In midweek they got their first win of the season with a 3-0 victory at Doncaster thanks to goals from Charley Kendall, Teddy Bishop and Anthony Scully. Attacker Charlie Kendall joined Lincoln in January from Eastbourne Borough scoring 25 goals last season having been loaned back to the club for the rest of the season. Lincoln aren’t blessed with attacking options Tom Hopper there only other striker.
Forest Green were beaten last weekend 2-1 by Ipswich but despite going 2-0 down they battled back excellently with a goal from Josh March before having a goal disallowed late on for offside. Forest Green did lose Udoka Godwin-Malife to injury in the first half with Dominic Bernard replacing him. In midweek Forest Green were 2-0 winners thanks to a double from Armani Little. Little joined from Torquay in the summer and is yet to start a league game but with him coming in for Stevenson and impressing in midweek he will be pushing for a start this weekend.
Key Player – Josh March
Forest Green striker Josh March scored last weekend. March wasn’t able to impress last season with the form of Jamille Matt and Matt Stevens but with Stevens out injured this is his chance to impress.
Morecambe vs Fleetwood Town
Morecambe were beaten 3-0 by Peterborough last weekend. They were able to bounce back though with a victory over Championship side Stoke on penalties in midweek. Morecambe have failed to score a goal so far this season although in midweek they defended valiantly after Jensen Weir’s red card on the hour mark. They stuck with the 3-5-2 formation that has seen Derek Adam’s Morecambe get so many plaudits. This week they have added defensive reinforcements with Jacob Bedeau returning on loan from Burnley. However, it’s up front they need new recruits with only Cole Stockton a natural goal scorer. Although, he is yet again rumoured to be wanted by numerous League One rivals.
Fleetwood were victorious last weekend at home to Plymouth. Plymouth went ahead through a Ryan Hardie penalty but Fleetwood were the better side creating numerous opportunities and comfortably turning it around thanks to goals from Dan Batty and Joe Garner. Scott Brown will be pleased with his side’s improvement in defending set pieces too after opening day’s terrible defending. They followed that up themselves with a 1-0 victory over Wigan in the Carabao Cup. A rotated and youthful starting line up with a change in the attacking trio impressed. Ged Garner got the goal to see Fleetwood through to the next round where they host Everton.
Key Player – Cole Stockton
As previously mentioned Morecambe striker Cole Stockton is wanted by a few League One clubs. One of them being Fleetwood. It was in this fixture last season Stockton scored his 94th minute winner from half way.
Plymouth Argyle vs Peterborough United
Plymouth were beaten in this fixture in midweek 2-0. They came up short thanks to goals from Ricky Jade-Jones and Joe Taylor helped Peterborough progress to the next round. The Pilgrims have now lost two in a row having been beaten by Fleetwood last weekend. They were the worse side last weekend and deserved to lose although the players that came in, in midweek did not stake a claim to compete to be in the starting line-up. Steven Schumacher brought in attackers Luke Jephcott, Morgan Whittaker and Niall Ennis but all failed to impress. Finn Azaz, Danny Mayor and Ryan Hardie are all likely to return.
Grant McCann will have the opposite problems though with his young stars he brought in all impressing in midweek. Charlie O’Connell, Joe Tomlinson, Joel Randall, Ricky Jade-Jones and Joe Taylor all came in, in midweek and impressed. Grant McCann has stuck with the three at the back formation he used in the second half at Cheltenham in both last weekend’s 3-0 victory over Morecambe and midweek’s victory at Plymouth. The loss of midfielder Sammie Szmodics didn’t seem to affect Peterborough either with Ben Thompson making his full debut and not looking out of place. This weekend I expect McCann to stick to his main first team but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ricky Jade Jones given a start in place of Jack Marriott.
Key Player – Ben Thompson
As previously mentioned Ben Thompson made his full debut last weekend. Thompson scored and was a constant threat. Szmodics will be a miss but I think Thompson could replace him with the same affect.
Port Vale vs Bolton Wanderers
Port Vale were beaten comfortably 4-0 by Exeter last weekend. They followed that up with a 2-1 defeat to Championship opponents Rotherham in midweek. The Valiants have struggled for signings throughout the summer and were crying out for a striker with Jamie Proctor and James Wilson their only striker options. Therefore, the signing of striker Ellis Harrison is a welcome one. Harrison was most recently at Fleetwood where he joined in January and contributed with six goals in 18 appearances. Last weekend’s defensive calamity will hopefully be put behind them and they need to quickly against a Bolton side who have scored the joint most goals in the football league since the turn of the year.
Bolton were victorious in midweek against Salford in the Carabao Cup with a 5-1 win taking them into the next round. The pick of the goals came from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson after a 31 pass move which featured every single Bolton player touching the ball. Last weekend they were also comfortable winners at home to Wycombe with midfield duo Kyle Dempsey and Aaron Morley impressing. Kyle Dempsey especially impressed with two goals while squirming the opportunity for a hat trick. Ian Evatt has a headache up front with Bodvarsson, Dion Charles and Amadou Bakayoko all chipping in with eight league goals while Dapo Afolayan has six.
Key Player – Connor Bradley
Liverpool right-back Connor Bradley has impressed since joining in just two starts. In midweek the 19-year-old came on and scored within two minutes of arriving.
Sheffield Wednesday vs Charlton Athletic
Sheffield Wednesday were victorious in midweek thanks to goals from Dennis Adeniran and Sylla Sow in the Carabao Cup against Sunderland. That followed last weekend’s 1-0 win over MK Dons thanks to a Josh Windass penalty. Wednesday manager Darren Moore will have a selection headache with a changed midfield trio of George Byers, Tyreese Bakinson and Adeniran all impressing. Wednesday’s injury list has been a problem ever since Darren Moore came in. Last weekend saw Akin Famewo go off injured with Moore confirming he’ll be out for a significant amount of time. Meanwhile Lee Gregory was substituted in the first half in midweek with many fans hoping that was just a precaution due to a tight hamstring and nothing more serious.
Charlton were winners last weekend 1-0 at home to promotion favourites Derby. They followed that up with a midweek victory over championship side Queens Park Rangers on penalties in the Carabao Cup. Ben Garner has stuck with his 4-3-3 that brought him success at Swindon. Last weekend Charlton were worse than Derby and in periods got outplayed. However, they took their chance on the break with Charlie Kirk’s impressive first-time ball splitting open the Derby defence. The pace of Kirk, Scott Fraser and Corey Blackett-Taylor could also be a real force on the break this weekend with all three able to split a defence apart especially if they match up against Wednesday’s back three.
Key Player – Dennis Adeniran
Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Dennis Adeniran has struggled with injuries since arriving at Hillsborough. In midweek he contributed with a goal and assist and will be pushing for a start this weekend.
Wycombe Wanderers vs Shrewsbury Town
Wycombe were beaten comfortably by Bolton 3-0 last weekend. Defensively they were poor with a back four of David Wheeler, Jack Grimmer, Ryan Tafazolli and Jordan Obita. There’s only really Tafazolli of the four that are a defensive minded player in their natural position. They did however bounce back in midweek with a 2-1 victory away at Northampton. Although that was with a much-changed side. To improve the defence Gareth Ainsworth has brought in experienced centre back Alfie Mawson. Mawson was released by Fulham at the end of last season and comes with plenty of premier league and championship experience with Swansea, Fulham, Barnsley and Bristol City.
Shrewsbury were beaten in the league last weekend by Accrington 1-0. Accrington managed to wind up Shrewsbury’s defence leading to Marco Marosi lashing out before Tom Flanagan was somehow sent off for two yellow cards. Flanagan will be available for selection this weekend with one of the centre back’s yellow cards instead being transferred to Marosi due to mistaken identity. In midweek Shrewsbury were winners in the Carabao Cup against Carlisle thanks to goals from Daniel Udoh, Chey Dunkley and Luke Leahy. Udoh is returning from injury and midweek was his first start of the season which should help boost Shrewsbury. The key battle will come at the back for Shrewsbury though with Sam Vokes up against Tom Flanagan.
Key Player – Sam Vokes
Against big centre backs Chey Dunkley and Tom Flanagan Sam Vokes should relish an aerial battle. The experienced striker hasn’t scored yet this season and will want to open his account as quickly as possible.