Chesterfield v Dagenham and Redbridge
Chesterfield received something of a wakeup call on Saturday as their unbeaten start to the season ended.
Their 2-1 defeat against Maidenhead United came on the back of some indifferent performances, going behind against Altrincham, careless against Oldham Athletic, having a man sent off against Southend United before a draw against Yeovil Town and a late winner against Maidstone United. While their ability to get points during poor displays is a positive, it was also a streak that couldn’t continue and I believe defeat at the weekend will bring about some change. Key player Jeff King will return in midweek after a one-match suspension while Kabongo Tshimanga played 36 minutes from the bench as he steps up his recovery. Armando Dobra could also return to the squad.
Dagenham and Redbridge simply haven’t responded to their wakeup calls. They have conceded four or more goals in their last five matches and Daryl McMahon has been throwing players into the side left, right and centre in a bid to find balance amid a number of injuries but to little avail. On Saturday, Elliot Johnson was thrown back in having started just one of the previous six while Harry Phipps was given a first Daggers start since September 2021. Yoan Zouma was chucked in for one match and Kamarl Grant and Besart Topalloj were given professional debuts. Meanwhile, Josh Walker (suspension) and Junior Morias (injury) will miss out in midweek.
The visitors are in a real state right now and I’m backing a Chesterfield side that know their roles to punish them yet again.
Dorking Wanderers v Yeovil Town
I’m backing Dorking Wanderers to continue their fine form when Yeovil Town come to visit in midweek and there are a few reasons for it.
Let’s start with the visitors. Yeovil Town have been poor on the road this term and were again at the weekend against Southend United in a 1-0 loss. Remove the 0-0 draw at Wealdstone, in which the hosts had 80 minutes for ten minutes and still couldn’t be broken down, Yeovil have averaged 1.12xG for and 2.13xG against. They don’t enjoy playing away from home. They also come into this game without the enigmatic Gime Toure after a red card that was deemed unacceptable by his manager and captain. Speaking of the latter, Josh Staunton has ramped up the pressure by suggesting this is a “must win” game of football – a big statement given this is matchday 12 and his side remain outside of the relegation zone.
One of the reasons I feel that is a big statement is because Yeovil had a big turnover in playing staff over the summer and are still getting used to each other. The same can’t be said for Dorking Wanderers whose consistent approach to squad building and reliance upon players that know their jobs has helped them get over a difficult start. The Wanderers have endured a number of injury problems but have started to work them out, particularly in defence where they have now been able to field players in their actual positions in the last three matches. They have also scored ten goals in their last three matches, finding the ruthless touch that helped them on their way to promotion and won three of their last four.
There’s pressure on the visitors and none on the hosts, who are enjoying life.
Solihull Moors v Wealdstone
Two sides with the same points total but very different styles and ambitions heading into the National League season.
The hosts haven’t quite got going yet despite a decent start. For the number of goals they have scored, they have lacked an element of control in their matches and that has perhaps shown at home where they have drawn four of their six fixtures. However, their quality is undoubted and that showed on Saturday when they came from 2-0 down to draw with Bromley, scoring both goals in injury time despite being down to ten men. Jamey Osborne and Fiacre Kelleher were rested on Saturday, Callum Maycock was withdrawn with 30 minutes to go while Joe Sbarra and Alex Reid are fit again so Neal Ardley has close to a full side to call upon.
Wealdstone have had an exceptional start to the campaign and few would have had them sitting in eighth position at the 11-game stage. However, they are yet to play against any of the four sides with the biggest budgets and most expectations. This will be the first of those tests. The Stones had a notably poor away record against the best sides in the division last season, picking up two points from matches away at the top 11. Their victories away from home this season have come against an Oldham Athletic side whose manager has already departed, a Gateshead side who battered them and an Aldershot Town side expected to remain near the bottom four. Their best three games from a chance creation point of view have come against three of the worst sides in the division – Aldershot, FC Halifax Town and Torquay United.
Wealdstone won’t keep this form up all season and I think they could be undone by a very good Solihull Moors side who have some key men back.
Southend United v Woking
A game between two sides expected to challenge for the top seven but who will be looking to rely upon defensive sturdiness more than an all-guns blazing attacking approach.
The hosts were dealt yet another blow last week when news of more problems with HMRC came to light, an ongoing saga for a number of years now under the stewardship of Ron Martin. However, the team responded positively in front of their home crowd, beating Yeovil Town 1-0 in a promising display. The visitors, meanwhile, have quickly adjusted to life under Darren Sarll, currently occupying the final play-off spot, particularly defensively where five of their back six have started all 11 matches and the other playing in ten.
Why under 2.5 goals? Eight of Southend United’s 11 matches have ended with under 2.5 goals scored. They have averaged seven shots conceded per game in their last six and have conceded more than 10 shots just once all season. Only two goals have been scored in their last three matches. A big reason for their improvement has been the return of their spine: Kacper Lopata has joined permanently while Noor Husin, who provides control, and Jake Hyde, presence, have returned from injury.
Woking, meanwhile, have seen seven of their 11 matches feature under 2.5 goals and the four that haven’t were against Torquay United and FC Halifax Town, arguably the two worst sides in the division, Oldham Athletic, whose manager agreed to part ways afterwards, and Wrexham, when they scored twice with ten men. They have conceded just one goal in their last four matches and since a poor opening day display at York City, they have conceded an average of 7.6 shots per game.
Neither side will want to give much away against fellow play-off contenders and I can see this being relatively cagey.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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