Chesterfield v Gateshead
Chesterfield take on Gateshead in midweek and I’m expecting an entertaining affair given the commitment of both Paul Cook and Mike Williamson to attacking, high pressing and possession heavy football.
The Spireites have recovered well after a bizarre three-match losing streak, winning their FA Cup tie away at ninth tier Ansley Nomads before a point at York City sandwiched between victories against Bromley and Boreham Wood, both fellow top seven contenders. Gateshead are without a win in six and are stuck in the relegation places at present but that hasn’t stopped them committing to their brand of football and Williamson will be able to call upon Greg Olley after his one-match suspension.
I’m backing both teams to score here. Chesterfield are without Ollie Banks (injury) and Brandon Horton (suspension) for this one while Cook is having to manage his front line meaning their higher pressing game has taken a little bit of a hit. They have scored and conceded in 12 of their 16 matches this season and in each of the eight before Saturday’s victory against a Boreham Wood side whose manager admitted making a mistake with selection amid tiredness.
They also remain susceptible to a ball over the top or through the lines, specialties of a technically gifted and pacey Gateshead side. The Heed have kept just one clean sheet this season and scored in all but two matches, including each of their last eight. Notably, they have had to make at least one change to their defence and goalkeeper in all but one match this season, summing up the difficulties Williamson is having shoring up his backline.
Eastleigh v Scunthorpe United
I’m backing Eastleigh to continue their excellent home form when Scunthorpe United make the long trip down from North Lincolnshire.
The Spitfires have been excellent in front of their own supporters, winning five and drawing two of their seven matches. That includes victories over current top seven outfits Southend United and Chesterfield. They have conceded just three goals in those seven matches and Lee Bradbury has been able to utilise his squad depending on the fixture being played recently – he was able to rest Charlie Carter and Jake Hesketh at the weekend, both of whom likely return to the XI for Tuesday.
Scunthorpe United have lost just one of nine matches since Tony Daws took the reins from Keith Hill but they have drawn six of those matches. The fixture list has been kind, only playing two top half sides and only one of those away from home – the defeat against Southend United. There has been a regression in performance level since Daws took over, starting bright but beginning to fade, his first four matches seeing a positive xG difference but his last five seeing them concede 0.76 more xG per game than their opposition. The lack of depth in his squad is unhelpful too – Daws can’t give his current XI a rest without significantly weakening them.
Maidstone United v Solihull Moors
This scout is backing Solihull Moors to win again despite being let down at the weekend.
They are playing a Maidstone United side that are now winless in ten matches and have failed to score more than once in a game in nine of those. The only three points they have picked up during that period have come against Wealdstone, who are sliding quickly down the table, FC Halifax Town and Yeovil Town, both of whom sit in the bottom six at present. Their record against the other three top four sides reads zero points and ten conceded and though they picked up a point at the weekend, it was against a Yeovil Town side struggling for confidence and via a controversial penalty decision.
Solihull Moors failed to win at the weekend at newly promoted Gateshead but Neal Ardley made the decision to rest Callum Maycock, Josh Kelly and Andrew Dallas amid a “ridiculous” schedule of seven matches in three weeks. All three players came on for the final 15-30 minutes and they dominated the game thereon, scoring the equaliser and pinning their opponents back. They are expected to return for this one which is troublesome for a fragile Maidstone United defence that have conceded 25 goals in their last ten, against a side averaging over two goals per game across the season.
Wrexham v Maidenhead United
Maidenhead United love being the underdog but I believe this game will be a stretch too far for them as they travel to second place Wrexham.
The Magpies stunned Wrexham twice last season, drawing 1-1 at Wrexham and beating them 3-2 in Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s first attendance at a National League football match. They did recently beat Chesterfield and Torquay United in back-to-back away matches but have otherwise scored one goal in five on the road and conceded 12. They are missing goalkeeper Dan Gyollai, amongst the best in the division, too, and this will be their fifth game in two weeks, a tough run for a part-time outfit.
Wrexham are astonishingly good at home. Their star-packed side beat Altrincham at the weekend to extend their perfect record to eight victories in eight matches at the Racecourse Stadium and they have scored an incredible 34 matches in that time. Paul Mullin and Ollie Palmer were both on the scoresheet in that one while Jordan Davies returned the XI in place of the gifted Elliott Lee, showcasing the depth of their options. They are averaging 2.5xG per game at home and with a raucous crowd backing them, it’s hard to see that slowing down.
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