Aldershot Town v Maidstone United
Mark Molesley was left cursing football for being a “cruel, cruel game” after his side conceded a 95th minute winner on Friday night at Oldham Athletic.
His side have gradually improved their performances over the course of the season. They conceded at least 2xG in their first three matches but have since reverted to Molesley’s preferred 4-3-3 formation, the one they used throughout pre-season, having seen a couple of bodies return to his small squad along with the loan signing of Frankie Vincent. They had more efforts on goal and recorded their best xG of the season in their last two fixtures and Molesley believes his side are close to turning the tide in terms of results.
Hakan Hayrettin was in defiant mood after his side’s 1-0 win over Torquay United on Saturday, talking up himself (suggesting they wouldn’t have lost against Dorking Wanderers after getting back to 2-2 if he was there) and his players for responding to the pressure of getting back to basics this weekend after a 5-0 loss against Wrexham. However, he acknowledged that he has six players missing that would likely be in his starting XI if available, including Sam Corne and Joan Luque, two of his primary attacking options.
I’m going to follow Molesley’s faith and back Aldershot to get a point their improved performances deserve.
Altrincham v Chesterfield
Chesterfield have started the season in great form, picking up 11 points from their opening five matches and recording the second best xG per game in the division to date.
The final hurdle for them to overcome is a win away from home having seen two-goal leads slip at Dorking Wanderers and Notts County. The former was in part due to a first-half red card for goalkeeper Lucas Covolan while the latter came after they failed to react to a double substitution on the hour. They have still created at least 1.47xG in every match this term and while Joe Quigley is struggling to reward his hard work with a goal, Akwasi Asante has two in two and Kabongo Tshimanga found the net for the first time since his leg break back in February. Assistant manager Danny Webb was keen to praise the returning Covolan and centre-back Tyrone Williams for their performances on Saturday.
It’s been a tough start for Altrincham with Phil Parkinson having to manage his squad carefully, trying to instil consistency while being without his first-choice goalkeeper for the first four games of the season, having one fit full-back and losing key players Matty Kosylo and Isaac Marriott for a prolonged period. They have drawn four and lost one of their opening four matches with defensive errors blighting their progress. Saturday was the first time they have conceded more possession than their opposition and it was also the first time they have lost the xG battle. They are likely to be on the back foot on Monday against a well drilled and very strong Chesterfield side.
I’m backing Chesterfield to make it four wins from six.
Notts County v Solihull Moors
Another heavyweight clash for Notts County who will hope to make the most of another early season home fixture against another of the four sides most expected to challenge for the title this season.
Notts County’s ability to score goals isn’t in doubt. They have scored 12 goals already, including at least one in every match, following on from a record of scoring in all but five league matches last season, including every home match. Macaulay Langstaff has continued where he left off with six goals already this term while his Gateshead strike partner Cedwyn Scott opened his account on his first start at Halifax.
Solihull Moors are the league’s top goal scorers having netted 13, following on from having scored the third most league goals last season. It’s unsurprising to hear that they have recorded the best xG in the division (2.04 per game). They have also scored four in both of their away matches with Alex Reid, Josh Kelly, Andrew Dallas and Joe Sbarra all off the mark for the season.
Both sides have scored and conceded in four of their league matches, Notts County doing so in each of their last four and Solihull Moors in their first four. The Moors’ run ended in a 3-0 win over Dorking Wanderers on Saturday, the visitors having a man sent off after 20 minutes and also missing a penalty. The Moors are giving away the third biggest xG per shot in the division.
Two of the best sides in the division, two of the most attack-minded sides in the division and with forwards who are in form. This game promises goals.
Southend United v Maidenhead United
It’s been a frustrating start to the season for Southend United, tipped by many to be dark horses for the play-offs having shown so much improvement under Kevin Maher last season.
Their plans for the new season were hampered with Sam Dalby being sold to Wrexham and being replaced by Jake Hyde, who immediately joined Harry Cardwell on the injury list. Dan Mooney, Jason Demetriou, Gus Scott-Morriss, Tom Clifford and Harry Taylor have also succumbed at various points. However, they were outstanding in their last home fixture, seeing off Oldham Athletic 1-0 in a dominant display. Having fallen short in the final moments on Saturday, they will be hoping for a positive result in front of a buoyant Bank Holiday home crowd. Goals may have been hard to come by so far this campaign but front three Mooney, Christopher Wreh and Callum Powell have now found the net this season.
They stand a good chance of getting that victory with Maidenhead United being their opposition. The Magpies lost 11 and failed to score in 12 of their 22 away matches last season. They have also lost and failed to score in both of their away matches this season against sides expected to finish in the top half, just like Southend. To add to their concerns, they were without Koby Arthur, Sam Barratt and Daniel Sparkes at the weekend, their primary goal threats from both a finishing and creative point of view.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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