Solihull Moors v Dagenham and Redbridge
Two of the National League’s pre-season contenders for the top seven meet this weekend in a clash that should provide goals, even if the quality of the game isn’t quite to the level people may have expected before the campaign began.
Solihull Moors have endured a tricky run of late, winning three and losing three of their last ten and are currently in the midst of a run of nine games in four weeks, this being their seventh of that run. Neal Ardley has spoken candidly about the run of games and the task he faces of managing the load on his players leading into the Christmas period, making at least four changes in five of his last six matches in charge.
Daryl McMahon can sympathise, the Daggers gaffer having to chop and change this season, being forced to play a back three without a central defender, use central players at wing-back, change formation and bring in loan players. Their last two league matches have finally seen them play the same back five two games in a row but they were unavailable against Maidenhead United in the FA Cup and they remain without Paul McCallum, Nikola Tavares, Sam Ling and David Longe-King.
The above has resulted in the Daggers scoring in all but four league matches this season and in nine of their last ten while conceding in every match bar one. Their chances of doing that remain high against a Solihull Moors side who will have one eye on their FA Cup tie in midweek and are likely to make further changes to their starting XI – they remain without key defender Callum Howe and may save Ryan Boot for the FA Cup game.
Southend United v Dorking Wanderers
A clash between two southern outfits punching above where they ought to be.
From the outside, Southend United sitting in the top seven of the National League isn’t a surprise but when you dig into the financial issues they have faced and turnaround of playing staff, it’s a fantastic achievement for Kevin Maher’s side to be where they are. They come into this game ten unbeaten, helped by a defence that has conceded four goals in that time. Consistency of selection has been a big factor – they have fielded the same back five in each of their last seven matches. They have also welcomed back striker Harry Cardwell, who provides some physicality to a front line that has seen Callum Powell thrive of late.
Marc White is usually quite bullish about his side but admitted they are in no shape to be beating the big boys at present after their 3-3 draw with Torquay United on Wednesday night. The part-time outfit already come into this game with one less day to prepare and were forced to change formation again amid injury problems, this time being without new star Seb Bowerman.
They have attempted to address defensive issues with the additions of Joe Cook and Archie Procter but both have limited experience at this level and it did little to help them at Torquay. They have conceded at least three goals in four of their last five matches and there’s little chance of them scoring a similar amount against a hard-to-beat Southend side.
Torquay United v Chesterfield
A couple of seasons ago, this was a clash of promotion chasing Torquay United against down on their luck Chesterfield. How quickly football changes at this level.
To be fair to Torquay United, they have managed to hoist themselves from the bottom of the league table after a couple of big results, namely hitting Aldershot Town for six at the start of November. They hit their stride around this time last season after some additional recruitment and look to be following a similar pattern this year. They won the xG battle for the first time all season during their last two matches.
Their attack has been boosted by the additions of Stephen Wearne and Dillon De Silva, who scored twice in midweek with them scoring two or more in four of their last seven. They have seen four of their last five end with over 2.5 goals and nine of their last 13.
Chesterfield, meanwhile, are back up to third after three wins from four. Paul Cook’s outfit and have a strong goalscoring record this season, scoring in every league match and at least two or more in all but four of those. They are also loose defensively, conceding in 13 of their 17 league matches. Eight of their last ten matches have finished with over 2.5 goals and 12 of their 17 league matches overall.
They have long-standing issues with centre-backs Tyrone Williams and Jamie Grimes defending balls over the top and they have conceded two or more against Yeovil Town and Gateshead, who both sit near the bottom of the table. Their attack has been boosted by the returns of Kabongo Tshimanga, Armando Dobra and Joe Quigley.
Wealdstone v Wrexham
The club with probably the smallest budget in the division hosting the club with the biggest. And I’m afraid it’s more than likely to only go one way.
It’s been a tough run for Wealdstone recently, their 1-0 victory away at Altrincham halting a six-game losing run in all competitions in which they conceded two or more in every game, including six against Notts County and five against Boreham Wood. Stuart Maynard went back-to-basics in their last match but they were also second best for a fair portion of that game and remain without either of their first-choice central midfielders. The Stones now sit in the bottom ten for xGA per game and are conceding around 0.55xG more than they are creating per game.
Not only are they struggling, but they are coming up against a machine in Wrexham. The Welsh club top the table after their 3-1 victory against Scunthorpe United in midweek, their fourth in a row and fifth in six matches. It has been noted that they have had difficulty on the road but they have played four of the top seven away from home this term, only losing against Notts County and Chesterfield. They have now played 13 matches against sides outside of the top seven this season and scored two or more in 11 of those, as well as their last three on the road.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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