Leyton Orient v Hartlepool United
Leyton Orient have a chance to extend their unbeaten start to the season as they take on Hartlepool United at home this weekend.
The O’s are unbeaten in their first five league games and find themselves top of the League Two table. Despite their strong opening first month of the campaign, their boss Richie Wellens has said that his team ‘should be scoring more goals’ which should fire them up ahead of their next game. They comfortably beat Coclchester 3-1 away last time out with Theo Archibald and Charlie Kelman getting on the scoresheet, with their other one coming as an own goal. The O’s had 16 shots which shows that they are creating a lot of chances. They have also been solid defensively this term and are proving tough to break down, having only let in two goals in five matches. In terms of selection news, midfielder Darren Pratley was off during the Colchester game with a slight hamstring injury but the O’s have a ready-made replacement in Jordan Brown if he isn’t able to start against Hartlepool. Attacker Aaron Drinan remains out of action but his side don’t need him at the moment anyway with the front three of Kelman, Archibald and Paul Smyth working well. Leyton Orient are on a roll and shouldn’t have too many problems this Saturday as they look to carry on their perfect start.
Hartlepool have struggled so far in this campaign and their decision to sack Graeme Lee earlier this summer and replace him with Paul Hartley is baffling. They are 22nd in the table and are yet to win in their opening five matches, picking up just two points and it looks like it could be a season of struggle for the North East outfit. They were beaten 3-1 at home to Bradford City last time which won’t do their confidence any good as they prepare to take on the table toppers away. They are seriously struggling for goals and have found the net only twice in August. Hartley himself has admitted that it has been ‘tough’ as he looks to inspire his newly inherited squad to start picking up results. Forward pair Mikael Ndjoli and Joe Grey have both been out with injury over recent weeks which hasn’t helped, even though the latter did come off the bench against Bradford. Summer recruit Josh Umerah has led the line so far but has scored just once in six appearances in all competitions as he still adapts to life in the Football League after spending the past four years in the National League. Hartlepool are struggling and are in for a tough afternoon in London against the O’s.
Stockport County v Swindon Town
Stockport County have made a slow start to life in the Football League but Swindon Town at home this weekend is an opportunity for them to pick up three points.
Dave Challinor’s side won their last league home game 1-0 against Colchester United and that will give them confidence ahead of their clash against the Robins as they look to climb the league table. They held Premier League side Leicester City last time out in the Carabao Cup before eventually losing on penalties. However, the Hatters put in a spirited display against the Foxes and will hope that showing can be a turning point for them. If they play like they did against Brendan Rodgers’ side, they should have enough to get past the Robins on Saturday. Speaking after their exit from the League Cup, their manager Dave Challinor said he was ‘really proud’ of his players despite the loss in the end. In terms of injury news, midfielder Will Collar has been out injured but the team has plenty of options in the centre of the park such as Callum Camps, Antoni Sarcevic and Ryan Croasdale. Stockport spent a lot of money over the summer and it is only a matter of time before their team click.
Swindon won 3-0 at home against bottom of the table Rochdale last weekend but apart from that result, they have been poor so far this season under new boss Scott Lindsey. They have won just once in five games and are sat in 13th position, which is a disappointing for a team who made the play-offs in the last campaign. They haven’t won away in their opening two league matches on the road against Harrogate Town and Carlisle United, and have leaked four goals in those two. Linsday said he was ‘pleased’ with their long-awaited victory against Rochdale but there is no doubt that the fact the Dale are in a bit of a mess played a part in that win. Swindon’s key man is Harry McKirdy and he scored in that game as he looks to replicate the 18 he fired last term. However, he is this week being linked with a potential departure and has now been suspended for three games for ‘aggressive’ conduct last week. The Robins without him lack any creativity and are starved of quality so this is one to keep an eye on. Swindon are in for a tricky afternoon at Stockport and shouldn’t be misled by the Hatters’ stuttering start to life in League Two.
Bradford City v Crewe Alexandra
Bradford City return to league action against Crewe Alexandra on Saturday after their Carabao Cup home clash against Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday night.
The Bantams were beaten 2-1 in the end by the Championship side but boss Mark Hughes believes they gave them a ‘run for their money’. His team beat Hull City in that competition earlier this month which shows they can compete with the big boys. Now they are out of the league cup, the Yorkshire outfit can now focus back on their quest to get promoted out of League Two, starting with three points against Crewe this weekend. Bradford won their last league match 3-1 away at Hartlepool United thanks to two goals from the in-form Andy Cook and the other from summer recruit Scott Banks. The fact that they haven’t lost in the league at Valley Parade yet will give them plenty of confidence as they prepare to welcome the Railwaymen. On the selection front, Hughes has no fresh injury concerns which is a big boost. He welcomed Levi Sutton back into the squad against Blackburn following the birth of the midfielder’s first child. However, he was left on the bench and will struggle to get in ahead of Banks, Richie Smallwood and Alex Gilliead, which shows the strength in depth this Bradford side has. Cook has been on fire so far this season, scoring six goals in seven games in all competitions, and if he shows up again it should be another positive home result for his side.
Crewe have been hit and miss so far this season following their relegation from League One, which suggests that they are still not quite over their dismal past campaign. They were thrashed 3-0 against Salford City in that last away match before squeezing past Sutton United 1-0 at home a couple of days. It looked like they were on course for back-to-back wins before Sam Hoskins scored a 97th minute equaliser last weekend for Northampton Town to seal a 2-2 draw. Alex Morris have leaked six goals in their last three matches so Bradford’s Cook will be rubbing his hands together. To make matters worse for the Cheshire side, their boss has said they are ‘down to the bare bones’ due to injuries to his players. Brentford loan man Lachlan Brook is out for six weeks with an ankle injury and joins fellow attacker Chris Long in the treatment room, whilst Bassala Sambou is suspended. This leaves Courtney Baker-Richardson as their only fit senior striker which isn’t ideal. Defender Rio Adebisi and midfielder Charlie Colkett remain out as well so Crewe’s threadbare will be tested to the maximum this weekend.
Northampton Town v Doncaster Rovers
Northampton Town and Doncaster Rovers are two sides who will be aiming to be up there come the end of this season.
The Cobblers missed out on automatic promotion by a single goal last term and then lost in the play-offs. However, they are using that as motivation to get to League One in this campaign and started well under Jon Brady. They are currently 4th in the table and are two points off the top after picking up 11 points from their opening five matches. Northampton drew 2-2 away at Crewe Alexandra last time out and equalised in the 97thminute through Sam Hoskins which shows that they fight until the end. Speaking after that match, Brady said that the way they are operating at the moment is ‘good’ and his team are certainly not short of goals having found the net 11 times, which is an average so far of just over two per game. They are capable of conceding though which will give Doncaster some encouragement. This may be due to the absence of injured defender Aaron McGowan, who is still not ready to return. 19-year-old Harvey Linott, who joined over the summer from Gillingham, has stepped into his place but lacks the same experience so Brady will want McGowan back as soon as possible to avoid leaking more goals.
Doncaster, like Northampton, have had a decent August and find themselves level on points in the table as their opponents this weekend which suggests there won’t be too much to split them. Gary McSheffrey’s side haven’t lost yet and have won their last three games on the spin against AFC Wimbledon, Stockport County and Salford City. Despite this, they have still conceded in each of those games though so are only winning because they can outscore their opponents. McSheffrey said his side ‘dug deep’ to beat the Ammies but he lost three defenders through injury in that one. Tom Anderson, Kyle Knoyle and Adam Long all got substituted and are doubts ahead of this weekend. Youngsters like James Maxwell and Bobby Faulkner will need to step up now but their inexperience could show, especially coming up against forwards like Danny Hylton and Hoskins. It is clear that Doncaster have some worries at the back, but going forward they are having some enjoyment with the likes of Lee Tomlin, George Miller, Kyle Hurst and Tommy Rowe proving that they are very adequate players at this level. There will be goals in this game, most probably at both ends.
Tranmere Rovers v Colchester United
Tranmere Rovers gave a good account of themselves against Premier League side Newcastle United on Wednesday night and will go into their next league clash against Colchester United in good spirits.
The Whites took the lead in the first-half through striker Elliot Nevitt, only for Eddie Howe’s side to turn the game around and win 2-1. Nevertheless, the League Two side played well and if they can match that level of performance this weekend they will surely pick up a positive result. Speaking after their loss to the Toon Army, their boss Micky Mellon said the showing from his side ‘showed the levels they can hit’. Tranmere won 3-0 in their last home game against Gillingham and although they have drawn and lost on the road since then against Hartlepool United and Newport County respectively, they are a much better team at Prenton Park and were as well last season when they finished in the top half. They have received a boost with midfielder Lee O’Connor returning from injury over the past couple of games. He injects quality into the middle of the park but his side are without striker Joel Mumbongo. Nevertheless, Kane Hemmings, who scored eight last term and has managed one so far this month, will lead the line again and does a good job up top. The Merseyside club need to hit some form now and based on their performance against Newcastle, they should have enough to win this Saturday.
Colchester have won just once so far in this campaign and were beaten 3-1 at home to Leyton Orient last time out in the league. Wayne Brown, who took over as manager in January, says he wants more ‘quality’ from his side. The Essex club have lost their opening two away matches of this season at Northampton Town and Stockport County which doesn’t bode well ahead of their trip to Tranmere. In addition, they have also let in eight goals in their opening five league matches which shows they are having trouble defending. Although key defender Tom Dallison made his return in midweek from injury against Brentford in the Carabao Cup, his inclusion did nothing to suggest that he will be their defensive saviour as they leaked another two goals in that one. The U’s have only brought in five players in this transfer window, including goalkeeper Sam Hornby who was on loan there last term anyway, so the lack of fresh blood in their ranks has been evident in August. There is still plenty of time for them to start picking up results but the opening signs, especially away from home, show that it will be another mediocre year for them in the fourth tier.
Salford City v Stevenage
Defeat at Doncaster Rovers last Saturday, after going 1-0 up just 10 minutes into the game, ended Salford City’s unbeaten start to their league season. Neil Wood’s side will be looking to make an immediate return to winning ways, and will be pleased to have a home fixture with which to try and do it. The Ammies are yet to concede at Moor Lane in 2022-23, posting a pair of wins with five goals scored across both matches. Wood’s 3-4-1-2 has got the absolute best so far out of Brandon Thomas-Asante, a 23-year-old forward who is now in his fourth season with the club and averaging almost a goal a game. He is partnered up top by Scottish signing Callum Hendry, with either Conor McAleny or Matty Lund taking up an advanced role behind them, whilst wide support is provided by the dynamic wing-back pairing of Ibou Touray and Luke Bolton. The latter is a natural winger and it certainly shows when he carries the ball at speed infield from the right flank.
Salford’s perfect home record should be considered under threat though by Stevenage. Steve Evans’ side have made a sensational start to 2022-23 and ahead of this weekend remain the only team in the entire EFL to have not lost a game in any competition. Usually starting out in a cautious 5-3-2 or 3-4-3 formation, Stevenage are able to play direct with target man Luke Norris or the athletic Danny Rose leading the line. Wide support comes from a host of direct forwards including David Amoo, Jordan Roberts and Jamie Reid, and at wing-back Steve Evans can call utilise either Saxon Earley or Max Clark down the left and either Kane Smith or Luther Wildin down the right. All four have been performing to a high standard so far this season. The introduction of a five-substitute-max rule has enabled Steve Evans to go all out attack at the end of games if needs be, and it has rewarded Stevenage with crucial late goals in five of their seven games so far.
After losing their unbeaten start, Salford will be keen to bounce back at a venue they have yet to taste anything other than victory in. Neil Wood’s side possess the attacking talent and attacking support needed to find the net, but they have to wary of Stevenage’s cautious, direct play. The Boro have become accustomed to not giving in even after falling behind, and having found at least one goal in every game so far, you find yourself awaiting the inevitable if Stevenage haven’t yet scored come additional time. A clean sheet for either side would likely be considered a fair surprise.
18+ please gamble responsibly.
Back the Four and Five Star Selections as an Accumulator on Betfair ⬇️
*Bet link only appears when accessing from mobile.
Haven’t got a Betfair account? You’re in luck…
Sign up to Betfair and get a full refund if your first bet loses. Grab an account through the offer below and place £20 on the 33/1 League Two Best Bets Accumulator. Here are the two possible outcomes:
Or you get your £20 stake back as cash