Penybont v Bala Town
Penybont delivered for us last weekend by securing a win away at Newtown. The game was extremely feisty with both teams picking up a red card. Lewis Harling is now suspended for the game against Bala Town but Penybont have a deep enough squad to cope with his absence. Former Ipswich Town player, Josh Yorwerth has been an integral part of the side this season. They have looked able to compete with every side in the division but they lack the consistency of the runaway leaders, T.N.S.
Penybont drew 0-0 with Bala the last time they met but they beat them 2-0 the last time they welcomed them to this ground. T.N.S are the only side to beat Penybont at home in 2023 and this was in the Welsh Cup. At home in 2023, Penybont are averaging two goals per game; while their opponents are averaging one goal per game.
Bala Town have struggled on the road in recent weeks. They are without a win in their last five away matches. However, two of these matches were against T.N.S. Bala Town are conceding an average of 2.2 goals per game on the road this year. Bala Town are currently eight points behind Penybont in the Championship half of the table.
Haverfordfest v Caernarfon
We are backing another home win for our second bet. Home form is vital in this league and Haverfordwest have been very strong at home of late. The last side to beat them on their own patch was T.N.S. Since then, they have won five of their six matches. Over this period, they are scoring 2.5 and conceding just 0.83 goals per game. They lost 2-0 when they visited Caernarfon earlier this season but they won the last time they hosted Caernarfon at the Bridge Meadow stadium.
Caernarfon have won just two of their last nine away matches; both of these victories came against Airbus. Airbus are bottom of the league and have been the whipping boys in the Welsh Premier League this season. If you remove the matches against Airbus, Caernarfon are conceding 2.57 goals per game on this poor away run.
Haverfordwest have recorded back-to-back victories and they are leading the relegation playoff half of the table. They are four points clear of Caernarfon who are 2nd. The table is tightly packed with the exception of Airbus. Just seven points separate 5th from 1st (this half of the table features six sides).
Aberystwyth v Flint Town
Flint beat Aberystwyth 5-0 earlier in the season so the home side will be out for revenge this time around. Aber are on 29 points; only Airbus have fewer this season. They have also failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 11 home league matches. Over this period, they are averaging 1.55 goals and their opponents are averaging 1.73 goals per game.
Flint Town have also been lacklustre defensively. They have conceded in their last 11 away matches in the league. They are conceding an average of 2.09 goals per game on this run.
The defences of each team suggest this one is primed for goals. Both teams have found the net on the last two occasions these sides have met in Aberystwyth.
Stenhousemuir v Forfar
The goals have dried up a little in SPFL League Two, and the slowdown in scoring is best encapsulated by Stenhousemuir, whose home match against Forfar on Saturday is liable to be a relatively tight affair.
The two teams come into this game in relatively similar form. Both have had wins sandwiched by defeats in their last three games as they fight to secure fourth spot, which is synonymous with a place in the playoffs. Indeed, the pattern of the season for these two underachievers has been similar, with a slow start followed by improvement following a change of manager.
From Stenhousemuir’s perspective, the change of style between Steven Swift and Gary Naysmith has been significant, with a far more pragmatic brand of football now played. If they are averaging comfortably over three goals per game for their 28 league matches this season, this is dramatically skewed by the start of the campaign. Seven of their last nine matches in the league have seen under 2.5 goals, although it is worth pointing out that the two exceptions have come in the last two games.
Forfar’s tendency in recent weeks has been for close games, too. Their last 11 matches have only seen four games produce at least three goals. In a midweek loss against Stirling Albion, they were competitive but were defeated by the leaders because they offered little offensively against a team that had previously kept only two clean sheets since October 8.
Three of the last five between these sides have gone under 2.5 goals and evens on another low-scoring affair looks good value.
Montrose v Dunfermline
League One leaders Dunfermline are definitely an unders team this season, with their whole campaign built upon a series of tight victories that have been underpinned by a stingy defence. So unexciting have James McPake’s side been this season, there are still fans who believe that the league title could be lost from their nine-point advantage with eight games to go.
Those fears, though, are misplaced. Dunfermline’s success is no fluke, and while their side is unlikely to live long in the memory, it is workmanlike and crucially finds a way to win, particularly away from home, where they have picked up 10 victories from 13. These games, though, have produced only 30 goals – seven of which came in one crazy match against Airdrie last month. Indeed, only four of their 13 road trips have produced at least three goals.
Meanwhile, Montrose have the reputation for being a team that is better defensively than they are going forward. That is reflected in the fact that their matches have produced only 78 goals this season – the second lowest tally in the league behind only Dunfermline, whose fixtures have produced a total of 62 goals.
The head-to-head record this season also points to this being a tight match. This will be the fourth time that these sides have met in 2022-23 and on each occasion there have been two goals or fewer. The odds on this continuing the trend are certainly favourable.
Sportivo Ameliano v Olimpia
Sportivo Ameliano and Olimpia face each other for the second time in 2023 having met in the Super Cup which ended in a surprise victory for La V Azulada earning them their first major piece of silverware. Once again the sides are locking horns in the southern city of Encarnación, scene of that famous cup victory.
Humberto García saw his side edge out Guaireña last weekend which was only the second win to nil this year, following that 1-0 victory in the Super Cup versus Olimpia. The team have won three of their last four in all competitions and youngster Richard Torales has burst onto the scene scoring two goals in his two league starts. Blas Cáceres continues to captain the side and is a key component in midfield. Marcos Martinich has returned from suspension but hasn’t found a way back into the starting XI just yet as his replacement, the 18 year old Víctor Rojas, is doing a fine job.
Diego Aguirre got off to a flying start as Olimpia defeated league leaders Libertad in a thrilling game at the Manuel Ferreira. Facundo Bruera powered in a stoppage time header to complete a 2-1 comeback win and keep El Decano in the title race. The bad news from that game is that Derlis González was injured in the first half and will be out for some time. Defensively the question marks remain as they failed to keep a clean sheet yet again (just one in 8 games this year) and Aguirre could tinker at the back.
Olimpia are odds on favourites here, propelled by their win over Libertad which is a reminder that on their day they can beat anybody. However, Humberto García has had his successes against the Rey de Copas in the past when managing General Díaz, something he reminded people of with the Super Cup win. Ameliano have only failed to score twice this year, Olimpia have only kept one cleansheet, so a better bet is BTTS.
Cerro Porteno v Nacional
The Barrio Obrero derby was traditionally been a thorn in Cerro Porteño’s side although more recently they are unbeaten in the last five meetings winning three. Nacional haven’t been the same following their 5-1 thrashing by Cristal in the Libertadores, they have just one win and two goals in the four games since.
Facundo Sava continues unbeaten since taking over but has seen his side have to rally from 0-2 in the past two league matches to preserve that record. For this game he will be missing Robert Morales (international duty) and Marcelo Moreno Martins who has left the club by mutual consent. That shouldn’t matter with the goals flowing from midfield, Federico Carrizo in particular has been in great form. At the back they continue to experiment with different players between central defender and left back, against General Caballero both Piris da Motta and Báez were replaced by Brock and Rivas respectively.
Nacional have struggled to keep their team together recently with indiscipline costing them, they finished with 10 men in their draw with Olimipa and defeat to Luqueño. Claudio Núñez will be suspended for this match but they can recall Fernando Román. Up front Gustavo Caballero has gone from hero, scoring the winner against Resistencia, to villain for his tactical indiscipline against Luqueño. He has been relegated to the reserves which means it is likely Christian Ocampos and teenager Francisco Morel start up top.
The last two meetings were 0-0 draws but with Facundo Sava at the helm it seems difficult to imagine Cerro Porteño blanking here. In fact they haven’t failed to score in the 14 home games since that tie.
Nacional have kept three clean sheets in their last three away games as Pedro Sarabia has a habit of a setting up his team to frustrate. That could play into the home team’s hands who will be more comfortable on the front foot than having to defend.
Philadelphia Union v Orlando City
It might be international week but they play right through it in the MLS and one of the matches taking place on Saturday evening is the one featuring the reigning Eastern Conference champions Philadelphia Union, who host the US Open Cup holders Orlando City SC.
Philadelphia have made an up and down start to the season with a pair of wins and a couple of losses. Importantly for them here, the wins have been the two home matches and the losses have come away from Subaru Park so they will be pleased to be at home.
International call ups have affected them a little for this one. Daniel Gazdag is the biggest absentee but the Union recruited both for this situation and to compete in all the competitions they are in this season so they have plenty of depth. Jaoquin Torres is certainly a worthy replacement for the Hungarian.
The biggest loss for either side in this match could well be Pedro Gallese for Orlando City. The Peruvian goalkeeper has been their best player by a distance this season. Their opening three matches in this league and their two in the Champions League were basically goalkeeping clinics from him so his absence will be felt, as will that of attacking talent Facundo Torres.
Orlando would have had their work cut out going to arguably the biggest home fortress in the league anyway but to go there without a couple of big players makes the size of the task even harder. I trust the Philly depth to get it done in this one.
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