Tranmere Rovers v Stockport County
Stockport County have started to pick up a bit of form in the league as they prepare for their trip to fellow North West club Tranmere Rovers.
Micky Mellon’s side are starting to stutter and are winless in their last three games now as they end October with some disappointing results. They drew back-to-back clashes against strugglers Harrogate Town and Rochdale and wanted to bounce back with a win at home to Carlisle United last time out. However, they were beaten 2-0 after two goals from Krystian Dennis and have now slipped to 11th in the table, three points off the play-offs. The players were booed by fans afterward and Mellon said he can ‘understand’ why. Tranmere have no fresh injury concerns but remain without defenders Luke Robinson and Tom Davies, midfielder Paul Lewis and forward pair Joel Mumbongo and Charlie Jolley which isn’t ideal as they head into a busy winter schedule ahead. The Whites are lacking that real cutting edge up top and they have only found the net 18 times so far this term which is the lowest out of all the teams in the top 15 places in the division which shows they need to start scoring more if they are to be genuine promotion contenders. Their recent results are worrying and they are coming up against a side next who appear to have turned a corner.
Stockport have won their last three games on the spin and have risen up to 14th in the table after their tricky start. They breezed past Sutton United 3-0 over the weekend courtesy of goals from Kyle Wootton, Paddy Madden and Will Collar and absolutely dominated the game, taking 17 shots and keeping 79% possession. Their boss Dave Challinor said he was pleased with the way his side ‘moved the ball’ and they certainly seem to have clicked under him now. In terms of selection news, Welsh right-back Macauley Southam-Hales is still fighting back from an injury but his absence isn’t being missed too much now with Blackburn Rovers loan man James Brown doing a sterling job in his place. Stockport head into Tuesday’s clash in confident mood and are starting to look solid at the back having not conceded in their last three outings. They have won their past two away games against Salford City and Bradford City, both of who are in the top 10, and Challinor’s men have lost just once in their last six in all competitions so will fancy their chances of extending that run.
Barrow v Colchester United
Barrow are back up into the play-off places and their form at Holker Street has had a big part to play in that. A brilliant 3-0 victory over Crewe Alexandra on Saturday was their sixth win in eight league matches at home, a game in which Ben Whitfield, playing on the right side of a 4-2-3-1, providing a pair of quality assists for attacking midfielder Billy Waters and striker Josh Gordon. Gordon returned to the starting eleven in place of David Moyo and scored a brace to bring his season tally up to a career-best total of nine. Josh Kay operates on the left side of the frontline, with Tom White and Sheffield United loanee providing consistency and solidity at the base of midfield. Pete Wild’s side can be at their most dangerous in transition, but also possess the ability to unlock opposition defences with deliveries from wide positions, especially through Whitfield who has nine assists to his name already in 2022-23.
The high-flying Bluebirds face a Colchester United side who slipped to the bottom of the table despite a 1-1 draw at home to Stevenage. Matt Bloomfield is the man tasked with keeping the U’s away from Non-League football, but has just a single league win over fellow strugglers Harrogate Town to his name. Colchester recently deployed a 3-4-1-2 formation which brought the vastly experienced Tom Eastman back into defence to be alongside Luke Chambers and Tom Dallison. Al Amin-Kazeem pushed forward into a left-wing-back role whilst Luke Hannant dropped back into a right-wing-back role. The pair are certainly dynamic but Hannant is perhaps better suited to a role further forward with support behind. Freddie Sears and Frank Nouble led the line for the U’s, but the goalscorer at the weekend was one of the breakout players of their season. An excellent goal from 20-year-old midfielder Marley Marshall-Miranda was a reward for the performances he has put in the far greater experienced Cole Skuse.
Colchester United as a team possesses a strong mix of youth and experience, but their struggles can be attributed to neither Matt Bloomfield nor his predecessor Wayne Brown being able to find a suitable set-up for the players at their disposal. Noah Chilvers, one of the brightest prospects at League Two level, is bizarrely kept out of the starting eleven far too often, and a player of his influence should be used whenever possible. Barrow are a confident side at Holker Street, and should prove too strong for a Colchester side who face a long trip back down to Essex still sat at the foot of the entire Football League.
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