Lincoln City v Charlton Athletic
Lincoln City welcome Charlton Athletic to Sincil Bank in aiming to reduce the gap between themselves and the play-offs places. The Imps have made an encouraging start to life under Mark Kennedy and are unbeaten from four home games in League One so far.
Tom Hopper, Joe Walsh and Jacob Davenport are out for the hosts, but regardless they certainly have enough talent to breach a leaky Addicks backline. Charlton continue to be both teams to score bankers this season, landing in nine of 11 so far, and though that selection is shorter with the market this weekend, not enough to deter me from getting involved.
The Addicks have scored in ten of 11 and conceded with the same regularity. Ben Garner has welcomed Chuks Aneke back to full training this week, but it feels unlikely that the striker is involved in the matchday squad just yet, while Sean Clare has recovered from the illness that ruled him out of last weekend’s 1-1 draw at home to Oxford United.
Charlton are winless in seven in the league and with that in mind there may be some value on the hosts, but let’s twist again and take BTTS.
Derby County v Port Vale
Paul Warne’s first home game since making the move from Rotherham United to Derby County will be a very exciting watch. The Rams got off to a great start under their new gaffer with a 2-0 win at Cambridge United last time out in the league but taking on a stubborn Port Vale side will provide a very different kind of test.
Korey Smith and Will Osula may feature to some extent having recently returned from injury.
Darrell Clarke’s were unfortunate to lose 1-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday last weekend, Vale were arguably the better team but conceded a Will Vaulks worldie to come out empty-handed. The newly promoted side rank eight for season-long expected goals (xG) against and will fancy their chances of limiting a Rams side who are still transitioning into a very different style of play under Warne.
The bookmakers have been very pro-Derby so far this season, often presenting value on opposing the newly relegated side, and Vale have not been given enough respect in their price to go to Pride Park and make things difficult. I am happy to take under, but taking the visitors with a goal head start could also be a sensible angle into the fixture
Peterborough United v Burton Albion
The confidence is back at Peterborough United. After a run of six consecutive defeats in all competition, Posh have responded with wins over bottom third sides in Port Vale and Milton Keynes Dons, scoring three goals in each game in the process. It was a particularly dominant, controlled display in their most recent outing at Stadium:MK, where Grant McCann’s side led 3-0 heading towards 90 minutes before two late MK goals set up a surprisingly nervy finale.
Peterborough’s confidence has been restored in a front-footed 4-3-3 spearheaded by League One top scorer Jonson Clarke-Harris. Young forward Ricky-Jade Jones is a constant threat on the left-hand-side, whilst Kwame Poku is in fine personal form from the right flank. Both provide quality service to the main man up top but can also receive it back again from the 28-year-old Jamaica International. Dynamic right-back Joe Ward is always a player to watch on the break or from distance.
The weekend’s game at London Road presents a huge challenge for Burton Albion. The Brewers have had personal confidence restored by new manager Dino Maamria, who favours a positive 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation. He enters this game without tenacious young midfielder Ciaran Gilligan and consistent right-back Tom Hamer though, through injury and suspension respectively. Hamer proves a particularly notable loss as his long throw has been a weapon utilised by Burton ever since he signed in January 2021. Luton Town loanee Elliot Thorpe will likely take up the right-back role in Hamer’s absence and will have his work cut out to deal with the overload that Ricky-Jade Jones and Peterborough’s chosen left-back will cause down his side. Burton’s right-winger Jonny Smith is an agile but inconsistent attacking player who often prefers to stay further up field and get the chance to receive the ball on the counter.
Looking for a third win in a row to boost their chances of climbing into the play-off places, Peterborough United may well see Burton Albion as another routine opponent. Posh present frightening firepower, with new-found confidence and a relentless attacking approach to games. It would be one of the results of Burton’s season if they could keep Peterborough quiet at London Road…
Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United
You certainly get goals at Bristol Rovers. Joey Barton’s side are the highest scorers in the entire bottom half of the League One table, having netted 15 in their 11 matches, and they’re conceded total of 22 is only worsened by Forest Green Rovers and Burton Albion. Recent inconsistency with formations hasn’t helped Bristol Rovers’ solidity settle, and part of that comes from forced changes of personnel, whether through injury or suspension. Aaron Collins, John Marquis and Ryan Loft are all forwards capable of scoring goals during a match. A defence often containing natural full backs however hasn’t recorded a league clean sheet since the 13th August. Burnley loanee Bobby Thomas has perhaps been the standout at the back in recent games but isn’t helped by how often he can find himself exposed when out of possession.
Bristol Rovers are up against a Cambridge United side who despite back-to-back defeats are still enjoying a strong start to 2022-23. Mark Bonner’s 4-2-3-1 is loaded with players who found success by being part of an incredibly effective system. The combative Joe Ironside or the lively Sam Smith most often lead the line, with Shilow Tracey a fun, direct runner out wide and Harvey Knibbs looking a hit in either a winger or attacking midfielder role. Paul Digby and Adam May provide an underrated solidity at the base of midfield, which has allowed young Jack Lankester to catch the eye in cameos roles from more advanced positions. Add to that James Brophy and Harrison Dunk, both capable of playing anywhere up the left-hand-side, and you have an excellent collective unit that are very capable of scoring goals against opposition lower down the table.
The game at the Memorial Stadium sees a match between teams that have seen 37 and 35 goals in their respective matches. Both Bristol Rovers and Cambridge United have capable attacks, but also defences that can be breached, and it provides the potential for another high-scoring affair down in Bristol. Lincoln City went to Bristol Rovers and won 6-3 back on the 17th of September. That could well be Mark Bonner’s mind this weekend…
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