Notts County v Maidstone United
I’m backing Notts County to respond to a shock FA Cup fourth qualifying round defeat in style.
Defeat at home against step three outfit Coalville Town was embarrassing but Luke Williams did use the game as an opportunity to give fringe and youth players game time and he will be reverting to his first-choice starting XI for this one. That first-choice XI has been excellent in the league so far this season, arguably the best performing side in the division, matching their league position atop of the table. They have the second best xG and best xGA and have scored two or more goals in all home matches except those against fellow promotion contenders Wrexham and Solihull Moors – they recorded over 2.3xG in each of those matches.
Are Maidstone United likely to break The Magpies home spirit? Unlikely. The Stones have kept just one clean sheet all season, at home against a toothless Torquay United, have conceded two or more in seven of their 13 league matches, and at least three in each of their last four away from home. Their poor form, no victory in seven, continued last weekend in the FA Cup when they were knocked out by 7th tier Needham Market. Fans are getting frustrated by the ever-increasing directness of their play and a lack of bravery in possession will only make things more difficult against Notts County.
It could be a long night for Stones fans that have travelled North from Kent.
Dorking Wanderers v Wealdstone
Dorking Wanderers are chaotic. Wherever they go, there are goals. There have been at least three goals in 11 of their 13 matches. Only five sides have scored more goals than Wanderers this season while only Barnet have conceded more. They have the 9th best xG and 2nd worst xGA, so the numbers aren’t going to slow anytime soon – there were over 150 goals in their 40 National League South matches last season.
Wealdstone, meanwhile, are a side who like to play on tight margins. And yet, goals are creeping into their games. As a part-time outfit, it is always going to be difficult for them to keep such high standards across every game, as Saturday’s opposition have found out quickly, and they have seen a start of one loss in nine become one win in eight. Three consecutive clean sheets have become no clean sheet in seven and they were on the wrong side of an eight-goal thriller in the cup.
Both sides played fellow National League teams in the FA Cup and can therefore count towards impressive BTTS records – Dorking have seen BTTS in 11 of their 14 matches and Wealdstone seven of their last eight. With Dorking being such an attacking outfit, those records stand a good chance of extending.
Solihull Moors v Eastleigh
There are two key reasons I’m backing Solihull Moors. For starters, they are the third highest scorers in the division and can now call upon a fit Alex Reid, who managed the full 90 minutes in their FA Cup victory last weekend. They also welcomed back long-serving goalkeeper Ryan Boot in that game, a player who made a huge difference after returning last year and is likely to command the number one spot this weekend. The Moors have kept one clean sheet all season but kept one at the weekend and with Boot, Alex Gudger and Kyle Storer fit again, they are in a much better place to hold on to a lead.
The visitors on Saturday are performing well this season. They are sitting in mid-table and come into the game four unbeaten. They have also lost just four games this term. However, all four of those defeats came away from home and their record on the road reads five points from seven matches, continuing some of the difficulties they had last term. They have scored in all but one match this season but have only scored once in nine of their 13 league games.
Southend United v Scunthorpe United
I’m backing Southend United to end Scunthorpe United’s unbeaten run this weekend.
The Shrimpers have been one of the best performing sides in the division this season, recording the second best xGA and fifth best xG. They have conceded just four goals in their seven home matches and just one in three since Kacper Lopata returned. They have conceded two goals in their last five matches in the league. What they are lacking is consistent goals but their forward players have returned in recent weeks, are playing regularly and getting chances – they just need to start finishing them now, which they should start to do as their fitness increases.
Scunthorpe United have proven awkward opposition of late, going six unbeaten but drawing five of those matches. However, five of those matches were against sides in the bottom ten and the other at home against a York City side that are stronger at home than they are away. They were beaten away from home against seventh tier South Shields on Saturday. The Iron are yet to keep a clean sheet this season and the only side to have less than ten shots against them this season are basement outfit Torquay United.
This will be a first real test for Scunthorpe caretaker Tony Daws and I’m backing Southend to continue to perform to a high standard despite off field issues.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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