Bournemouth v Liverpool
The lunchtime kick off brings a strong fancy of mine into proceedings as a resurgent Liverpool face Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium. The form of the away side has caught my eye in the last month with Jurgen Klopp’s side finally looking a much stronger force. They emphatically swept aside Man Utd at Anfield last weekend, earning a mind boggling 7-0 victory. The main men in attack were on red hot form with the front three of Salah, Nunez and Gakpo all notching a brace! On the other hand, the hosts were again beaten, this time to an unfortunate last gasp goal at the Emirates, as they lost 3-2 to Arsenal.
Liverpool now seem to have found that spark and I fancy them to pick up all three points here. They’ve now won four of their last five in the Premier League, conceding zero goals within this time. This formidable form is not to be sniffed at and up against the relegation threatened Cherries, I can only see this run continuing. The chase for a Champions League spot in the top four is there for the Reds and this particular fixture is an ideal opportunity to hunt that down. Two or more goals in the game are required here, alongside an away victory which is exactly what I envisage come Saturday mid-afternoon. The Egyptian King, Mo Salah is in scintillating form right now and he’s bound to fancy his chances in front of goal. He’s amassed a whopping nine goal contributions in his last six games in all competitions (5G & 5A). This is just one of numerous players who can cause serious damage to the league’s worst defensive side. Darwin Nunez is another who’ll be licking his lips at the prospect of facing Bournemouth this weekend. The Uruguayan is now starting to perform to the level we expect of him, having seen such incredibly high numbers in the underlying data such as his xG. Four goals have been hit home in the last four games, clearly proving his eye for goal! As an attacking force, I fancy Liverpool to have far too much for the home side to deal with throughout this game. Not only this, the fact they’ve been so solid defensively all points to a comfortable away victory to me!
A quick word on Bournemouth, well, they were very unfortunate in the capital last week. However, they found a way to lose a match once more and have now slipped to the foot of the table. A return to the Championship looks even more likely now, with quotes of around 1/3 (1.3) being given for relegation. The Cherries have now lost eleven of their previous fifteen games in the league and the same old goal scoring problem remains. 0.96 GpG is the current average per match for the home side and this worrying number won’t help their cause against one of the former teams in the competition. Another statistic that makes for horrendous reading is their H2H record against the Merseyside outfit. They’ve lost the last seven in a row and have netted on just one occasion within this time. On top of this, a nine nil thumping was dished out in the reverse fixture back in August!
All things considered, I’m strongly backing Liverpool to win this game and I’m expecting to see a few goals in the process!
Bristol City v Blackpool
The current version of Bristol City that we are having to assess is one that doesn’t tend to score many goals, but also performs well at keeping the opposition at bay. This is in stark contrast to the Bristol City of last season, and even the beginning of this one. I am unsure what this says about Nigel Pearson, he is either a very flexible manager who can adapt his team at different times of the season, or that he has no control over the style of play that he wants to implement.
One thing that we can be pretty certain of ahead of this fixture though is the way that Mick McCarthy will set Blackpool up. In getting their excellent point against Burnley last time out, McCarthy named a team that looked to have at least six defenders in it. It worked, and they could even have sneaked a winner out of it in the end. This is why the low-margin gameplans can be effective, especially for those with limited squads.
Whilst I don’t think that we’ll quite see six defenders and a backs-to-the-wall gameplan from Blackpool here, I certainly think that they will be resolute and aim for the clean sheet. Then it is up to Bristol City to break them down. The Robins boast some excellent technical players like Adam Scott, so this is possible, but they are currently lacking an effective physical option to change their gameplan.
Sam Bell hasn’t been effective in that central forward role, and Nahki Wells’ goals of late have mainly come through the new thing that Bristol City have recently discovered called penalties. Each of the Robins’ last four home league games have gone under 2.5 goals, with performance data that suggests that those scorelines were pretty representative of how the games went in terms of chances created.
Blackpool’s away games have fluctuated a little more. They haven’t won an away game since Coventry on 29th October, but they have managed a few draws, and I just see this game panning out with few chances created and a marginal scoreline at the end. More likely a narrow Bristol City win but I prefer the unders for more certainty.
Everton v Brentford
Everton earned a point in their last league game when they travelled to Nottingham Forest. Sean Dyche’s side led on two occasions but were unable to prevent the hosts from pulling it back both times. The Toffees were under the cosh in the latter stages and Forest looked the most likely to snatch three points.
Scoring has been an issue for Everton this season but Dyche has looked to maximise their effectiveness from set-pieces. His side will need to maximise the amount of points they win when playing at home if they want to survive the drop this season.
Brentford are on the longest unbeaten run in the Premier League. They beat fellow overachievers, Fulham in their last match. They will now have ambitions of qualifying for Europe. Despite enjoying a fantastic season, Brentford have still only managed to keep three clean sheets in their 11 away Premier League games. The Bees are averaging 1.73 goals and their opponents average 1.18 goals in these matches.
Everton are averaging 0.86 goals per game at home this season but there were signs of improvement in their last game. The Toffees found the net twice in their last match and had an xG of 1.70. They cannot afford to roll over without a fight in front of their own fans here and I’m expecting them to get on the scoresheet.
Leeds United v Brighton
There hasn’t been a significant improvement in Leeds’ form since they appointed Javi Garcia as manager. The club dismissed Jesse Marsch in the hope of avoiding relegation but it is likely to go down to the wire.
Leeds have failed to score in two of their three matches under Garcia. They beat Southampton in his first game in charge at Elland Road but the Saints were bottom of the Premier League at the time. Leeds are averaging 0.72 less goals per game than their opponents this season.
Brighton will be full of confidence after beating West Ham 4-0 in their last match. They are battling with Fulham and Brentford to snatch an unlikely European football spot for next season. The Seagulls beat Leeds 1-0 earlier this season and they have done reasonably well on the road. They are averaging two goals per game way from home. They have also won all three matches where they have travelled to any of the sides in the current bottom five.
Eastleigh v Oldham Athletic
I’m expecting a slightly tired and tight affair when play-off chasing Eastleigh meet mid-table Oldham Athletic this weekend.
Eastleigh have seen 61% of their league matches and 78% of their home matches finish under 2.5 goals. They have seen eight of their last nine finish with two or less goals having been scored, six of those being 1-0’s and another a 0-0 draw. Bradbury admitted it was probably one game too far after the 1-0 loss at Yeovil Town last weekend, which is understandable. His side have played eight games in all competitions in three and a half weeks with eight of his starting XI starting seven of those. And though Corey Panter returns for this one after suspension, Brennan Camp was injured in the warm-up at the weekend while Kairo Mitchell and Ousseynou Cisse are both suspended. They have averaged 1.22xG for over the nine games, amongst the lowest numbers in the division but they will remain solid.
As discussed during my midweek selection, Oldham Athletic tend to match their opposition. Unsworth has decided the best route to survival is being more solid and it has seen seven of their last 11 games finish with less than three goals scored. The four games that saw three or more goals were against Dagenham and Redbridge, Gateshead and Barnet. There was an outlier against Chesterfield but otherwise, they have seen under 2.5 goals against York City, Aldershot Town, FC Halifax Town, Maidstone United, Boreham Wood and Woking, sides who play on tighter margins. Eastleigh fit into that category.
Torquay United v Wealdstone
Yet again, Wealdstone are being overpriced by the bookies and I’ve got to back them.
Torquay United lost yet again in midweek, a 3-2 loss at Solihull Moors. It leaves them six points adrift of 20th place Yeovil Town in their bid for survival and the situation only got worse in midweek, a side already missing their star striker, captain and vice-captain are now without any natural full-back or wingers and lost midfielder Brett McGavin in the warm-up with Kevin Dawson, who wasn’t ready to start, having to play 89 minutes. It left Gary Johnson with a goalkeeper, three centre-backs and a left-back who ought not to be playing due to a bout of COVID leaving him unable to play more than ten minutes. The situation is bleak with fans and players in discussion at the end of the game.
Contrast that to Wealdstone. They have lost just four of their last 19 league matches and their record against bottom half sides is key to the reason they are still in without a shout of the play-offs. They have lost just three matches against sides 13th or lower in the league table and away from home, they have won five and drawn three of ten games against the same opposition. They come into this one missing just one key first-teamer, and it hasn’t held them back given they have won their last two.
Another note for this game, Wealdstone have scored 14 goals from set-pieces this season while Torquay United have conceded 16.
Wrexham v Southend United
Wrexham are 1.44 to win a football match at home. And of course, it makes sense to back them.
Wrexham have been phenomenal at home, winning 16 and drawing one of their 17 matches at the Racecourse. They are averaging just over three goals per game and have conceded just shy of one. The only draw came against Woking, who sit in third. They are averaging 2.24xG for at home and are conceding 1.17xG. They have won 19 of their last 24 matches in the league and have scored two or more in each of the last 15. Their starting XI is even stronger now, Eoghan O’Connell and Rob Lainton returning for the midweek 4-0 victory at Dagenham and Redbridge.
Southend United were at least able to call upon goalkeeper Steve Arnold and striker Harry Cardwell, making their starting XI stronger but they were still unable to earn a result against Chesterfield. They have lost three of their last four league matches. They are without their captain Nathan Ralph. They have lost their leading centre-back Kacper Lopata due to a contractual dispute, Southend’s record 1.77 points-per-game with him and 1.09 without him during his spell. And their record against the top nine requires improvement. They have won one, drawn four and lost eight of their 13 league matches against top nine opposition, and they have lost three of the five away matches they have played, including a recent 4-0 loss at Notts County.
Birmingham City v Rotherham
Previous readers of this column may not be surprised to know that I want to be with Rotherham here. Matt Taylor has finally gotten a grip of the club since the recruitment in January and they are abuzz with confidence at the moment. The danger of relegation has fallen away dramatically in recent weeks and they are playing with that freedom which can be very dangerous to face up against.
The feeling around Birmingham is nowhere near as positive. John Eustace is still popular amongst most Bluenoses but the struggle is real for them. Only 28% possession in the match against Wigan last week, although exaggerated by game state having scored after four minutes, suggests that they want to concede control of matches and play on the counter attack. This may be possible against Rotherham, but one suspects that Rotherham quite want to play that game too, and the home fans are likely to want to see more front-foot play from their team against a direct rival who they would’ve expected to finish above before the season started.
At least the draw halted the run of four defeats in a row that Birmingham had been on prior to the Wigan game. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is goalscoring that is proving the biggest problem for Birmingham. Scott Hogan missing a penalty in the Wigan match is the most recent example of the lack of confidence in the forward line at the moment. The fact that Lukas Jutkiewicz has been brought back in to help build attacks having not been seen much in the first half of the season does at least demonstrate that Eustace is happy to change things to try and find solutions, but also that ideas are running a bit thin.
Rotherham, on the other hand, are full of ideas. Tarique Fosu has been a standout for the Millers since his move in January. Fosu has great athletic abilities, which is important, but he’s also shown that he can play in a more withdrawn role and use the ball effectively. This threads together the 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 really well as midfielders and wingbacks can play beyond Fosu to use the space vacated. Birmingham’s defence and midfield will need to watch for this.
The use of Jordan Hugill as a target man and Cheo Ogbene as a more traditional wide forward have given Taylor’s side a new lease of life. Their chance creation and goalscoring numbers are on the up, and with the addition of Tyler Blackett this week to ease personnel concerns in defence, Rotherham are looking well set for a good end to the season, starting with at least a point at St. Andrews.
Reading v Millwall
Could the Royals yet be relegated? If the six-point deduction is confirmed soon then that leaves Paul Ince’s men level on points with 21st placed Cardiff City. Albeit there would still be six points between them and the relegation zone, in a very real, visual way, Reading would become the team that Blackpool, Huddersfield, and Wigan, all on 32 points, would be aiming for.
The form that the team is going right now is pretty poor as well. Yes, they are a different beast at home, and they will fancy their home form to keep their heads above water, but the vibes coming out of the club are far from positive, The performance at Middlesbrough last Saturday was abhorrent, but the manager deflected blame. In midweek they did ok against Sheffield United and kept them to one big chance, which, unfortunately for Reading, was taken.
However, they created nothing for themselves once more. That midweek defeat made it six losses in nine matches and now they come up against a team that will give away very little in Millwall. The Lions, even on their travels, have limited sides that have more capacity to create chances than Reading to very little.
Gary Rowett’s men kept Middlesbrough to 0.5xG recently, and QPR and Stoke were kept down to 0.7 too. The way that I see this game panning out is for Millwall to keep Reading at arms length, and if Reading rely on set pieces, then Millwall are one of the most physically adept and tactically well-drilled teams in the league and are not going to buckle under set piece pressure.
Millwall haven’t been huge scorers away from The Den though. 18 goals in 18 matches so far, compared to 27 in 17 at home. Half of their goals this season have come through set-pieces as well, again, Reading have a lot of tall, physically capable players and so that route to goal may be more limited than usual.
Chances could be at a premium here and I like the under goals line again in this one.
Swansea City v Middlesbrough
Winless in four. One win in their last nine. Manager absent after a red card last weekend. This looks a tough weekend for a Swansea City side whose season looks all but done. The Jack Army lack anywhere near a strong enough record or form to push for the Championship’s top record, amassing a similar amount of points to relegation battlers Rotherham United and Huddersfield Town across the last couple of months. The future of Russell Martin as Swansea boss remains up in the air after a disappointing campaign, though he does have a few influential players within his squad. Dutch striker Joël Piroe is the standout. The 23-year-old has 12 league goals to his name this season, the next best in the Swansea team being Cameroonian midfielder Olivier Ntcham and the homegrown pair of Oli Cooper and Liam Cullen, each with five Championship goals. Matt Grimes is considered one of the league’s best metronome midfield players, but missed last weekend’s defeat at Luton Town and could be absent for this clash with Middlesbrough. Jay Fulton would likely be the midfield partner to Joe Allen if Grimes is unavailable.
The last thing an out-of-shape Swansea City need right now is a game against Middlesbrough. The transformation of the Teessiders under Michael Carrick has seen them change from relegation battlers to serious promotion contenders in the matter of just a few months. Since taking control on the 24th October, Carrick has won 14 out of his 19 league matches, responding to occasional defeats with confident winning runs. Middlesbrough most recently responded to a 2-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion with a 5-0 demolition of Reading at the Riverside Stadium. The game included braces for exciting Aston Villa loanee Aaron Ramsey, as well as Championship top scorer Chuka Akpom who now sits on 21 goals this season, a total even more impressive when you realise that he usually starts off the main striker Cameron Archer in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Riley McGree and Marcus Forss provide further threat as frontline options, supported by Hayden Hackney, Dan Barlaser or Jonny Howson at the base of midfield. Ryan Giles has long been considered one of the second tier’s best attacking left-backs, Tommy Smith can be as reliable on the opposite flank.
As the season draws to a close, Middlesbrough are hunting down Sheffield United and that second automatic promotion spot. Only runaway leaders Burnley possess a better record over several months than Boro, a side transformed into a magnificent attacking outfit under Michael Carrick. A Swansea City side, who look like they could face this weekend without their manager on the touchline, will just be seen as another step to get over on their way to the top two.
Barnsley v Plymouth Argyle
Plymouth Argyle benefitted from a poor penalty decision to beat Derby County 2-1 in midweek and travel to the form side in League One on Saturday.
Barnsley eased past Portsmouth 3-1 in midweek as their incredible run continued, keeping automatic promotion hopes alive. Brad Collins is not too far away from a return but Matty Wolfe and Conor McCarthy remain unavailable for the hosts. Dan Scarr, Conor Grant, Adam Randell, Tyreik Wright and Michael Cooper are still sidelined for the visitors, a point would certainly be an excellent result.
Barnsley have won seven and drawn two in their last nine matches, beat the Rams 4-1 at Oakwell two weeks ago, and have scored three or more goals in four of their last five league outings. Argyle are an opposable side in the run-in especially away from home and Barnsley away is arguably the toughest game in the calendar at the moment.
The Tykes can find goals from all over the pitch and have a settled side under Michael Duff who will be believing that a win puts them firmly in contention for a remarkable top two finish.
Oxford United v Derby County
Grant McCann looks the most likely to replace Karl Robinson at Oxford United manager, but the Yellows are likely to head into the weekend managerless.
Oxford were very unconvincing in their first match since the sacking, a 1-0 defeat at Lincoln City last weekend, and are only three points above the relegation zone. Tyler Smith is back available for the U’s while Billy Bodin remains sidelined.
Max Bird and James Chester are still yet to return for Derby County, and the Rams do have a preparation disadvantage having lost 2-1 at Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday evening. The Rams have a fresh impetus after the unfortunate defeat with preserving their place in the play-offs now the main priority. Derby have only lost three of their last 22 in League One and they travel to an Oxford side who have taken one point from the last 27 available.
The U’s have also drawn a blank in their last three games ahead of facing Paul Warne’s side. Warne will get a reaction following the Devon defeat and the Yellows are in the kind of charitable form to aid the visitors’ promotion push.
Portsmouth v Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday travel to tenth-placed Portsmouth in my strongest selection of the weekend’s League One slate.
The Owls have a three-day preparation advantage with a free midweek while Pompey were being cast aside 3-1 at Barnsley. Marvin Johnson serves the final game of his three-match ban and Reece James remains a doubt while Michael Ihiekwe and Callum Paterson are sidelined. Jay Mingi could return for Pompey, with Ronan Curtis and Jayden Reid being long term absentees, Denver Hume, Kieron Freeman and Clark Robertson are unlikely to feature.
The price is enormously enticing given Wednesday’s form, unbeaten in 21, winning 15 and drawing six, and also keeping eight clean sheets in their last ten.
Wednesday got our selection up with a 1-0 win v Peterborough United last Saturday, which was much more comfortable than the scoreline suggested, winning the shot count 12-3 against Darren Ferguson’s top-heavy Posh.
Pompey won 1-0 at Cambridge United last weekend, but lost the shot count 17-5 against the 23rd placed U’s, as things stand it is hard to get on board with John Mousinho’s men in what remains of the season.
Forest Green v Bristol Rovers
Bristol Rovers have the chance to build on back-to-back clean sheets when they take on Forest Green Rovers this weekend.
FGR have drawn two and lost five in the league since Darren Ferguson took the reins and will have accepted that any kind of resistance against relegation this season is unlikely. In that period since Ian Burchnall’s departure the Green have scored just four and conceded 13, in what is turning into a very poor first managerial job for the Scotsman.
The Gas put Karl Robinson out of his misery at Oxford United with a 3-0 win and more impressively shutout Barnsley to draw last weekend. The upturn has come with Sam Finley coming back into midfield after an injury lay-off and they have the talent to win this comfortably if they hit their straps in the attacking third.
Jordan Rossiter, Josh Grant and Harry Anderson will likely miss out for the Gas, while Ferguson will be choosing a side without Tyler Onyango as Ben Stevenson and Jahmari Clarke are doubtful.
Joey Barton’s men are a big price considering how good they have been at times this season and the confidence that the last two matches would have built.
Stevenage v Walsall
Stevenage have a great opportunity to return to winning ways against an out of form Walsall this weekend.
Boro are 3rd in the League Two table and are in a good position to gain promotion to League One if they can start picking up some more wins. They beat AFC Wimbledon 3-2 away in their final game of February courtesy of goals by defender Carl Piergianni and striker Luke Norris, with the other one being an own goal. However, they lost 2-0 away at Rochdale last time out and boss Steve Evans said the performance was ‘poor’ and he will be eager to see his side bounce back on Saturday with a victory. On the injury front, goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond has been out of action over recent games but the Hertfordshire outfit have brought in a decent replacement in highly-rated 21-year-old stopper Toby Savin from Accrington Stanley in the league above. Stevenage are where they are in the table for a reason and if they can rekindle their spirit from earlier on in this campaign, they should have no problems getting over the line into the third tier. They have the fourth best defensive record in the division behind table toppers Leyton Orient and promotion rivals Bradford City and Stockport County and should have enough to beat their next opponents.
Walsall’s season is fading away and they don’t really have much to play for now with play-offs unlikely. They drew 0-0 at home to Bradford City on Tuesday night and their manager Michael Flynn said the performance was an ‘improvement’ from their 1-0 home loss to Barrow last Saturday but his side are still seriously lacking that cutting edge up top. To make matters worse, midfielder Robbie Wilmott and striker Jamille Matt are currently injured which weakens the options that Flynn has at his disposal. The latter was brought in from Forest Green Rovers to replace forward Danny Johnson, who was recalled by parent club Mansfield Town earlier this winter after scoring 15 goals in all competitions during the first-half of this term. The Saddlers’ results have flopped since the start of 2023 and they haven’t won since New Year’s Day against Mansfield. That means that they are winless in their last 12 fixtures altogether to see them slip down to 14th place and their confidence will be low right now as they prepare to face a promotion chasing outfit.
Newport County v Bradford City
Newport County don’t have much to play for anymore this season as they play promotion chasing Bradford City on Saturday.
The Exiles have had a pretty underwhelming campaign so far and although Graham Coughlan has steadied the ship since taking over from James Rowberry near the end of last year, they have been nothing special and will be in for a tough clash this weekend. The South Wales outfit head into their upcoming encounter on the back of their 1-1 draw with Grimsby Town away on Tuesday night and they picked up a point after defender Priestley Farquharson’s goal in the second-half. Coughlan said afterwards that he was ‘proud’ of his players but not be holding out much hope of beating 5th place Bradford. Striker Offrande Zanzala could make his return to the squad after sitting out of the last couple of games due to injury but he has only scored three league goals, with Omar Bogle likely to start up top again. Newport have only won once in their last six matches and that was against relegation threatened Hartlepool United last month so they aren’t in the best of form. It must be hard for them to motivate themselves with them comfortably sat in mid-table and their attention will be fixed on next term already.
Bradford drew 0-0 last time out against Walsall away and the positive for them is the fact that they haven’t conceded in their last four games on the spin. In fact, the Bantams’ defence is rock solid at the moment and they have only let in one goal in their last six outings as they aim for promotion to League One. Speaking after their stalemate against the Saddlers, manager Mark Hughes said the result keeps their ‘momentum’ going as they look to extend their unbeaten run away at Newport. The Yorkshire club are carefully managing the game time of Emmanuel Osadebe, who has recently returned from a broken leg, and he compliments what they already have in midfield with vastly experienced players such as Adam Clayton and Richie Smallwood. Bradford have the second best defensive record in the league this season having let in just 29 goals in 34 games and only table toppers Leyton Orient have conceded less. They have a great ability to shut out opponents and are tough to break down, and with impressive attacking options like 16-goal Andy Cook up top, they will always fancy their chances of picking up a positive result.
Swindon Town v Carlisle United
Swindon Town lock horns with Carlisle United at the County Ground with goals from both sides likely.
The Robins have found the net in seven of their last eight league outings and still hold an outside shot of making the play-offs so will be fired up for this weekend. They picked up an impressive 1-1 away draw at table toppers Leyton Orient last time out with striker Jacob Wakeling on the scoresheet and their boss Jody Morris said afterwards that he was ‘really pleased’ with the result which should give his players confidence. On the selection front, Swindon have just one centre-back fit in the form of Tom Clayton which has seen them delve into the free agent market to land former Liverpool academy player Tom Brewitt. He hasn’t got much experience of playing in the Football League though and the Robins’ defensive worries could play into Carlisle’s hands on Saturday. However, with threats in attacking areas with the likes Charlie Austin and Jonathan Williams, both of who have played in the Premier League in the past, the Wiltshire outfit will always fancy their chances of finding the back of the net at least once every time they are in action.
Carlisle have been so consistent this season under Paul Simpson and are 2nd in the table behind Leyton Orient. The Cumbrians won 2-0 last weekend against Grimsby Town at home thanks to goals by midfielder Alfie McCalmont and winger Jordan Gibson to keep their push for promotion well on track. Simpson said it was a ‘professional’ performance and he will be hoping for more of the same from his players against Swindon away but will be under no illusion that it will be a tougher test for his players. Centre-back Paul Huntington, who is a key player for the Brunton Park club, will be assessed ahead of the trip down south and it would be a blow if he missed out with his expected replacement Corey Whelan not possessing the same experience as his teammate which would boost their opponents’ chance of scoring. Carlisle are the top scorers in the league and have fired in a whopping 56 goals in their 34 games which is a credit to the work they are doing right now. With in-form players like Kristian Dennis, Omari Patrick and Joe Garner, they cause all sorts of problems to whoever they play against.
Notts County v Dorking Wanderers
While Wrexham will have to fight for victory, I’m expecting Notts County to put on a show in front of the BT Sport cameras.
Luke Williams’ side take on Dorking Wanderers in a game between the division’s second-best attack and second worst defence. Let’s start with the hosts who come into this game having won 12 of their last 16 league matches. They have scored in each of those, scoring two or more in 12 and three or more in seven. They have won 12 of their 17 home matches, averaging over two goals per game and conceding just nine. They have won eight and drawn one against bottom half sides at Meadow Lane, scoring two or more in seven of those, winning all seven by more than one goal. They have played 19 matches against bottom half sides, winning 15 and 12 of those by more than one goal, scoring two or more in 15. They have scored three or more goals in 16 of their 36 league games this season and come into one having had a full week’s preparation.
Then there is Dorking Wanderers. They have lost nine of their last 14 league matches and 12 of their 17 away matches this season. They have conceded two or more goals in 14 away matches, three or more in ten and lost nine by more than one goal. They have lost seven of the nine away matches played against top half sides, conceding two or more in seven of those and losing six by more than one goal. They have conceded two or more in 23 league games this season and three or more in 18. They also come into this game having lost first-choice centre-backs Ed Harris (concussion) and Joe Cook (broken nose) in midweek.
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