Stevenage v Sutton United
Stevenage are three points behind league leaders Leyton Orient heading into their game against Sutton United on Tuesday evening.
Boro can go level on points with the O’s if they can extend their impressive run of form. Steve Evans’ side have won eight out of their opening 11 league matches and have lost only twice so far this season. They beat Crawley Town 2-1 away last time out courtesy of goals from Jordan Roberts and Luke Norris. Their boss said afterwards that he wants his side to ‘score more goals’ despite another three points. The Hertfordshire side have received a boost on the injury front with the returns of winger David Amoo and midfielder Michael Bostwick, with the latter left on the bench against Crawley over the weekend. However, attacker Elliott List remains unavailable but players in his position like Norris, Danny Rose and Jamie Reid are doing well at the moment. Stevenage’s home form is strong and they have won all five games at Broadhall Way this term against Stockport County, Rochdale, Stevenage, Newport County and Harrogate Town, conceding just once in the process so most signs point towards another victory.
Sutton have made a stuttering start to the new League Two campaign and find themselves down in 14th place in the table. Their boss Matt Gray was linked with the Rotherham United job in the Championship and his current side lost 1-0 away at Gillingham over the weekend in what was a poor result considering the Gills have only scored three goals this season. Gray said he was ‘really disappointed’ with the result and will want a reaction from his players. To make matters worse, the U’s remain with the suspended Donovan Wilson which is a blow as the striker provides them with pace up front. His replacement in the starting line-up is Kylian Kouassi but at the age of 19, he could struggle against experienced Stevenage defenders like Carl Piergianni and Dan Sweeney. Sutton have struggled on the road this term and haven’t won on their travels yet. They are winless in their last five away outings against Doncaster Rovers, Crewe Alexandra, Grimsby Town, Swindon Town and Gillingham which means they are in for a long evening on Tuesday against a team who are so strong on their own patch.
Hartlepool United v Doncaster Rovers
Hartlepool United have their first home clash under Keith Curle this week against a dangerous Doncaster Rovers team.
It has been a season of doom and gloom so far for the Pools and they sacked Paul Hartley after just 10 games in charge. That move looks to have sparked a reaction in their players though as they fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Mansfield Town last Friday thanks to two goals from striker Josh Umerah. Curle said his team ‘turned up and didn’t shirk the challenge’ which shows they are a resilient bunch and can take confidence going into their tricky home clash against Doncaster. On the selection front, defender Jamie Sterry is out of action which is a blow as the North East side are leaking goals at the moment. They have the joint-worse defence record in the league alongside Crawley Town and need to tighten up their backline if they want to start climbing up the league table. However, at the other end of the pitch, they will fancy their chances of finding the net again after their late comeback against Mansfield and they have an attacker who knows how to score goals in Umerah. The summer recruit has five in 10 league outings now and has proven he can cause problems to opponents.
Doncaster sit outside the play-offs on goal difference and can rise into the top seven with a positive result at the Suit Direct Stadium. They have picked up their form again after a purple patch in mid-September and have won back-to-back games against Crawley and Rochdale. Speaking after their win over the latter on Saturday, boss Gary McSheffrey said he gave his players a ‘massive pat on the back’ after that one. In terms of injury news, centre-back Tom Anderson was seen training before the game at Spotland over the weekend which suggests his return to the action isn’t too far off which is a boost. For now, Ro-Shaun Williams and Joseph Olowu make up the central defensive partnership but they are vulnerable to conceding with those two playing. The Yorkshire club haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last five outings and have the worst defensive record out of every team placed in 14th upwards which is worrying for them, especially if they want to get promoted. Nevertheless, scoring goals isn’t really an issue and they have found the net 16 times in 11 matches and with players in attack such as George Miller, Kieran Agard, Kyle Hurst and Luke Molyneux, they will cause Hartlepool’s fragile backline problems.
Walsall v Northampton Town
Walsall have been in a disappointing run of form as they prepare to welcome a confident Northampton Town side to the Bescot Stadium.
The Saddlers have slipped to 17th in the league table and are winless in their last nine league games. They drew 1-1 away at Stockport County over the weekend and equalised late on through attacker Andy Williams’ first goal of the season. However, despite avoiding another loss, boss Michael Flynn said his team were ‘painful to watch’. The Midlands outfit have been struggling and haven’t won since 6th August which shows that they are not in the best of spirits at this moment in time. They are without key striker Conor Wilkinson and his absence up front has been missed over recent times. They have found the net just once in their last three outings and the likes of Williams, Tom Knowles, Danny Cashman and Danny Johnson are struggling for service in attack. Going into their next game, the fact that their recent home performances have been dire means they will not be holding out much hope of things changing anytime soon. Walsall haven’t won in their last four games on home soil against Stevenage, Grimsby Town, Colchester United and Tranmere Rovers and will be dreading the visit of their next opponents who are on fire.
Northampton have won five games on the spin and have risen to 2nd in the table, just two points behind leaders Leyton Orient. The Cobblers will be delighted to have kept hold of popular manager Jon Brady after he was linked with the Huddersfield Town job last week. His side won 2-1 away at Swindon Town over the weekend after goals from midfielder Ben Fox and winger Mitch Pinnock and he said it was a ‘great result’. The Cobblers were without top goal scorer Sam Hoskins due to illness against the Robins and will be praying he is well enough to return against Walsall. He has been in terrific form and has fired 11 goals in 10 games so far this season. Brady brought Fulham loan man Kieron Bowie into the starting XI to replace him and the fact that they ended up winning anyway shows they can live without their key man. Northampton are the top scorers in the division having bagged 23 goals already and having lost only once so far, most signs point towards another three points for them at least.
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