Stevenage v Rochdale
Stevenage have been the surprise package in League Two so far this season and will be looking to make it five games unbeaten in all competitions as they take on Rochdale this week.
The Hertfordshire club have struggled in this division over recent years but currently find themselves in the play-off positions. They drew 1-1 with 2nd place Walsall last time out thanks to a last-gasp equaliser from striker Danny Rose. Their boss, Steve Evans, said his team put in a good ‘fight’ and managed to salvage themselves a result at the death which shows their character. In terms of team news, Stevenage are yet to experience any significant injury setbacks in the opening few weeks of the season which is a boost. Goal scorer Rose admitted that some players were ‘cramping up’ at the end of the Walsall game so that could force them to make some changes for Tuesday’s match. He has been an inspired signing having linked up in the summer and has already chipped in with two goals so far. Boro have scored beyond the 80th minute mark in all four of their clashes (including cup) this term which shows they compete until the end and they will fancy their chances of extending their run of impressive form against the Dale.
Rochdale finished 18th in the table in the last campaign and it looks like it will be another year of disappointment for the North West outfit. They were beaten 1-0 at home by newly promoted Grimsby Town over the weekend and are yet to win in their opening three matches this season. They have also only found the net once and that Devante Rodney’s goal on the opening day against Crewe Alexandra. Speaking after their loss to the Mariners, manager Robbie Stockdale said he was ‘very upset’ with the result and it may not get any better for his side as they prepare for the tough trip down south to take on a confident Stevenage side. On the injury front, goalkeeper Cieran Slicker is back fit after suffering a knock in the Carabao Cup last week against Burton Albion but he is mainly back-up to number one Richard O’Donnell. Midfielder Liam Kelly, who has missed the past few games, was on the bench against Grimsby and is available to play now with James Ball and Tomani Diagouraga taking his place in the middle of the park. Despite having these two players back, Rochdale are struggling right now due to the fact they are leaking goals and can’t score.
Doncaster Rovers v Stockport County
Both Doncaster Rovers and Stockport County will be aiming to be in the promotion places at the end of the season.
Donny were relegated from League One last term and their squad is still littered with players who are capable of playing in the higher divisions. They have had a solid start to life back in League Two and are unbeaten in their opening three matches, winning one and drawing two. They fought back late from 2-0 down last time out against AFC Wimbledon away to draw 2-2, with Tommy Rowe and Ro-Shaun Williams scoring the goals in the 86th and 94th minute. Their boss, Gary McSheffrey, has said he has a set of individuals who will ‘go until the end’ and they will be eager to continue their unbeaten start. Doncaster have received a big boost with defender Tom Anderson making his return to the starting XI against Wimbledon. He is a key player for the Yorkshire club and is more experienced in the heart of defence to his alternative Joseph Olowu. Midfielder Ben Close returned to training last week and could potentially come back into contention. However, Adam Clayton is currently doing a decent job in his position and will be hard to dislodge from the line-up. McSheffrey’s side have players with genuine quality at fourth tier level, including the likes of Rowe, Clayton, George Miller and Josh Andrews, and they have scored four goals in their opening three league games so should find the net again this week.
Stockport lost their first two games of the campaign against Barrow and Stevenage but are back to winning ways now following their Carabao Cup win over Harrogate Town and then their league victory over Colchester United over the weekend. The Hatters won 1-0 thanks to summer signing Kyle Wootton’s first goal for the club and boss Dave Challinor said he was ‘pleased’ to get three points. He has made the decision to drop goalkeeper Ben Hinchcliffe and bring Liverpool loan man Vit Jaros into the starting Xi which seems to have worked. Midfield pair Will Collar and Akil Wright missed the clash against the U’s through injury but the Hatters have the strength in depth needed to deal with such worries. They had Callum Camps, Ryan Croasdale and Antoni Sarcevic in their midfield three which is a perfectly adequate trio in the middle of the park. Wootton will be pleased to have got off the mark now after scoring 26 goals for Notts County last season and will now be looking to build on that against Doncaster. Stockport will be looking to build some momentum now and will be tough opponents for anyone they come up against, especially with their ambitious plans to get back-to-back promotions.
Newport County v Salford City
Newport County take on a Salford City side who have made a very strong start to the season on Tuesday night.
The Exiles are yet to win so far this term and have only found the net once which was on the opening day. They were beaten 2-0 away at Bradford City over the weekend and James Rowberry’s side seem to be lacking quality in their squad, which may be due to Finn Azaz’s return to parent club Aston Villa at the end of the last campaign. Speaking after their defeat at Valley Parade, Rowberry said he was ‘disappointed’ with the performance of his side. To make matters worse, his side will assess the extent of the damage to midfield pair Aaron Wildig and Robbie Willmott ahead of their next game, whilst summer signing Offranda Zanzala will also be looked at after sitting out of the trip to Yorkshire last time out. Lewis Collins started in place of the latter up top but is struggling for goals, having managed just two so far in 26 appearances in his career. Newport will be missing centre-back Declan Drysdale after he was sent off at Valley Parade which is a blow. Aaron Lewis is the most likely candidate to take his place and he will be in for a tough evening against a Salford side littered from quality options in attacking areas such as Conor McAleny, Callum Hendry and Brandon Thomas-Asante.
Salford have made a dream start to life under Neil Wood after his move from Manchester United U23s over the summer. The North West club are unbeaten so far in League Two, winning two out of their three matches and drawing the other. They also haven’t conceded yet having tightened up their backline with the addition of Richard Nartey from Burnley, who is arguably an upgrade on Jordan Turnbull. The Ammies beat Crewe Alexandra 3-0 last time out courtesy of Thomas-Asante (x2) and McAleny and Wood said his team ‘controlled large periods’ of the game and could have even scored more. Salford have been boosted by the fact that they don’t have any injury worries at the moment. Midfielder Matty Lund made his return to the squad against the Railwaymen after suspension and came off the bench for Elliot Watt in the second-half. They have a lot of depth in their squad and with Elliott Simoes, Matt Smith and Ryan Leak all starting from the bench last time out, they have options to freshen things up against Newport. Wood’s side are in good spirits so far and are looking well organised as they look to get a result at Rodney Parade, which you wouldn’t bet against them doing so.
Colchester United v Bradford City
Colchester United are still in the hunt for their first win of the season as they take on Bradford City on Tuesday evening.
The U’s are winless in their opening three matches and will now be feeling the pressure to get a result. They have had a very quiet transfer window this summer and have also brought in three outfield players which may explain why they have lacked that spark in the opening few weeks of the campaign. Wayne Brown’s side lost 1-0 away at Stockport County last time out and had just 27% of possession, with a passing accuracy of just 44%. They also struggled to create any chances and had just two shots, with neither on target. Brown said after the match at Edgeley Park that his side need ‘a bit more quality’ which suggests he isn’t completely satisfied with his squad at the moment due to their lack of transfer business. Colchester have a few experienced players out injured at the moment which isn’t ideal. Alan Judge has been out with a knock and will be assessed this week, whilst key defender Tommy Smith and midfielder Emyr Huws have also been in the treatment room. Tom Eastman has stepped in for Smith and youngster Marley Marshall-Miranda has come in for Huws but despite being decent options, they don’t have the same experience or influence on the pitch which could play into the hands of their upcoming opponents.
Bradford beat Championship side big-spending Hull City in the Carabao Cup last Tuesday and that seems to have ignited their season as they followed it up with a 2-0 home win over Newport County over the weekend, with goals from Richard Smallwood and Harry Chapman. It has been a hectic summer at Valley Parade and they have brought in 15 new faces in this transfer window. It was always going to take a while for the new set of players to gel together but once they do, the Bantams will be a force to be reckoned with. After beating Newport, their boss, Mark Hughes, said he fully expects his team to ‘improve even more’ as they prepare to make the trip down to Essex. On the injury front, summer signing Emmanuel Osadebe is out long-term but with attacking options like Chapman, Alex Gilliead, Lee Angol, Vadaine Oliver and Andy Cook at their disposal, Bradford are well capable of covering for injured players this season which will help them over the course of the next few months. The Yorkshire club are unbeaten in their last two in all competitions and will be desperate to go on a run now and show why they were tipped by many for promotion under Hughes this term. As they gear up to face a Colchester side who haven’t performed well yet, they will be confident of getting something at the JobServe Community Stadium.
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