Lincoln City v Plymouth Argyle
Lincoln City host league leaders Plymouth Argyle on Saturday in aiming to build on their mightily impressive 3-1 win at Bristol City in the Carabao Cup in midweek. The Imps will travel to Southampton in the last 16 stage, but in looking towards this weekend it feels like there could be a hangover or an after the lord mayor’s show type performance, with Argyle not in action since the FA Cup first round.
Dan Scarr and Conor Grant are out for the visitors, along with Danny Mayor, but Macauley Gillesphey is back available while Mikkel Miller is nearing a return.
As for the hosts, Jordan Garrick has returned to Swansea City to assess the extent of a knock, Tom Hopper is not too far away but will not be involved, while Teddy Bishop is a doubt for the fixture after feeling his quadricep following his return to action against Chippenham Town last weekend.
Steven Schumacher, who has won the League One Manager of the Month Award for September and October, will be meticulous in preparation to take on the Imps, and Argyle are not the side you want to take on at a schedule disadvantage.
Morecambe v Portsmouth
Morecambe have their fair share of injury concerns heading into the fixture, as pressure builds on Derek Adams to have the Shrimps playing like a side who can battle against relegation this season.
Donald Love, Max Melbourne, Shane McLoughlin, Jake Taylor, Ash Hunter and Courtney Duffus are all sidelined for the hosts, who are not operating with a deep squad and have been over-reliant of the performances of Connor Ripley between the sticks so far this season.
Portsmouth have been boosted by the return of Marlon Pack, while Denver Hume and Tommy Lowery have also come back into the fold in recent weeks. The trip to the Mazuma Stadium will be Joe Morrell’s last action in a Pompey shirt before heading off to the World Cup with Wales.
Jayden Reid and Joe Rafferty are out long term for Danny Cowley’s men, and they have dropped since being involved in the early season automatic promotion picture. That said, there have been signs in the underlying numbers that they are turning a corner and are unbeaten in their last three travelling to a side who have won just two from 17 in the league this season.
Exeter City v Peterborough United
A fixture that jumps off the page in looking at this weekend’s League One card as a potential both teams to score selection. Exeter City have been very strong going forward all season, and that has continued since Gary Caldwell replaced Matt Taylor in the dugout, but have suffered a significant regression in their defensive process.
Cheick Diabate is ruled out for the Grecians, along with Sam Stubbs who is a long term absentee, and there have been very sad rumours about the latter that he may have to hang up his boots due to the injury. Jonathan Grounds however is back available for selection and could add some crucial experience to the backline.
As for Peterborough United, Kwame Poku and Joe Ward are doubtful, the latter would be a significant loss, but crucially Jonson Clarke-Harris is fit and available, the Jamaican is hot favourite to win the third tier golden boot this season. While Harvey Cartwright and Oliver Norburn are out long term.
Exeter have seen both teams score in four of their last five in League One, where Posh have seen the same selection land in six of seven in the league.
Bristol Rovers v Fleetwood Town
An infamous old firm rivalry faces off in the dugouts. Ex-Rangers man Joey Barton is the Bristol Rovers manager, whilst Celtic hero Scott Brown is impressing in his first season as Fleetwood Town boss.
Favouring a 4-3-3 and thankful for having all of his key players back available, Barton’s Bristol Rovers are a team that can edge on the side of chaotic quality. The highest scorers in the bottom half also possess one of the league’s worst defensive records, averaging 1.6 goals scored a match and 1.8 goals conceded.
Firepower comes predominantly from Aaron Collins. The 25-year-old Welsh forward most often plays out wide in a front three, and has 15 goal contributions to his name so far in League One. Only Peterborough ace Jonson Clarke-Harris has scored more than his tally of nine. Striker Josh Coburn, on loan from Middlesbrough, is quickly proving why his nickname of the ‘Teesside Haaland’ is a justified one.
Fleetwood Town under Scott Brown have progressed well from the side that faced a season-long relegation battle in 2021-22. Aggressive right-wing-back Shaun Rooney is always a threat pushing forward on the overlap, supported behind by a defensive base made up of Josh Earl, Harrison Holgate and 19-year-old Drew Baker. Left-wing-back Danny Andrew occupies the other flank and has a notable threat from direct free-kicks. Carlos Mendes Gomes, on loan from Luton Town, is a constant creative threat from wide positions, often taking matters into his own hands if Callum Morton, Joe Garner, Cian Hayes and Paddy Lane aren’t having the desired impact.
Fleetwood Town have failed to score in just one of their games in all competitions since the 1st October, averaging exactly one goal a game across this 17 league fixtures so far.
Just one of Bristol Rovers’ league games since the beginning of October hasn’t seen both teams score. The Gas possess monumental firepower, and a commitment to putting bodies forwards that can leave them vulnerable in defensive situations. Fleetwood Town, themselves capable of finding the net through their own key forward, could enjoy the open game that occurs this weekend at the Memorial Stadium. James Belshaw and Jay Lynch may need to be busy goalkeepers.
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