Altrincham v Scunthorpe United
The bottom two face off with each other on Tuesday evening when Altrincham host recently relegated Scunthorpe United.
Alty have been a tad unfortunate so far this season. They have been without their first-choice goalkeeper and full-backs with centre-backs often filling in at full-back while Isaac Marriott and Matty Kosylo have proven big losses. However, they have drawn four of their seven matches with mistakes costly against Maidenhead United and the other two defeats coming against title challenging Chesterfield and Solihull Moors. They were able to field an orthodox back four for the first-time last weekend and caused Solihull Moors problems before the gulf in class showed.
That gulf in class will be less of a problem against a Scunthorpe United side that have now lost six in a row. Keith Hill was sacked at the end of August and is yet to be replaced – academy manager Tony Daws has taken the reins for the meantime. Their squad remains imbalanced and they have failed to score in their last three. A big concern is defensively where centre-backs Andrew Boyce and George Taft lack pace and are being protected by Jacob Butterfield, also in his 30’s. Altrincham caused problems with wide players moving into central areas and to deal with that, Solihull Moors had to squeeze up and condense the pitch. I can’t see Scunthorpe being able to match that.
The hosts finally have a balanced XI and against poorer opposition, I think they can use it to their advantage to pick up an overdue first victory of the season.
Barnet v Dorking Wanderers
Despite losing two of their last three, Dean Brennan’s Barnet side remains in the top seven as they host Marc White’s Dorking Wanderers in midweek.
The most impressive aspect of Barnet’s game so far this season has been their ability to score goals, finding the net at least once in every match, even despite missing Danny Collinge, Ryan De Havilland and Ephron Mason-Clark, who has been sold to Peterborough United, in their last two matches. While they now have the 5th poorest xG in the division, they are recording the third highest xG per shot – when they create chances, they are creating good chances.
Dorking come into this one on the back of three heavy defeats but they came against three of the current, and expected, top five. They have performed more than adequately against lesser opposition. Wanderers have lost top goalscorer Alfie Rutherford to an ACL but Ryan Seager, who scored over 20 for Hungerford Town last year, is a ready-made replacement. James McShane and Niall McManus are also expected to be fit.
Defensively, both sides are struggling. The Bees now have the 3rd worst xGA in the division and Brennan will need to decide on whether to go with height and lose pace or go with additional mobility but lose height against a side that have put more crosses into the box than anybody else in the division. Wanderers, meanwhile, have the 2nd worst xGA in the division and are likely to be without leading centre-back Ed Harris. They have dominated possession in most matches but have conceded 20 goals in seven matches due to a lack of mobility and control at the back.
Barnet have seen three or more goals scored in each of their last three matches while three or more goals have been scored in all seven of Dorking Wanderers’.
FC Halifax Town v Gateshead
It has not been a good start for Chris Millington and FC Halifax Town and I’m expecting Gateshead to pile on the misery in midweek.
The visitors finally recorded their first victory of the season at home to Maidstone United last time out, a thumping 4-1 win. That was reward for what has been a positive campaign to date performance wise – they were the better side against Wealdstone, Barnet and Dorking Wanderers and caused problems for Wrexham and Notts County, the former with ten men for a good portion of the game. Leading centre-back Louis Storey returns for this one while Greg Olley, Adam Campbell and Paul Blackett have been ruthless in the final third at times.
If Halifax are to stop them, they are going to need to be close to their best, a level they’ve come nowhere near so far this season. The Shaymen failed to score in their first four matches, lost four of their first five and when they did finally record a victory, it was against the worst side in the division in what was widely considered a match-up of two poor sides. That was followed up with a poor performance and fortunate point at Maidenhead United. Millington has moved to a back three recently but was without Tom Clarke and Jordan Keane last time out and it’s hard to see how their wing-backs will get up the pitch against a vibrant Gateshead side that have recorded the second best xGA and 6th best xG this term.
Another factor is the crowd. Millington is already under pressure while striker Manny Dieseruvwe was cheered off the pitch when substituted recently. Fans could turn if they start slowly and I’m backing Gateshead to capitalise on that.
Torquay United v Solihull Moors
This is a case of predicting a side that are performing very well to beat a side that are performing very poorly.
Torquay United have stunk the place out so far and are fortunate to have earned seven points from their seven matches. They have recorded the worst xGA and second worst xG. Their two victories came in games where they have taken a combined seven shots and conceded 59. Only once have they finished a game conceding less than 1.5xG and twice conceding less than 15 shots on their goal. Only once have they had more than eight shots in a match.
Tuesday will be their first acid test against one of the “big four”. Solihull Moors haven’t reached peak performance this season but are still fourth in the league table, recording the second highest xG in the division, the highest xG away from home and scored 18 goals, the second most behind Wrexham. They have scored three or more goals on four occasions this season and should welcome back attackers Joe Sbarra and Andrew Dallas, along with captain Kyle Storer and vice-captain Callum Howe.
Torquay have only conceded seven goals this season despite having clear issues in all areas of the pitch but they are coming up against one of the most ruthless and creative forwards line in the division and I’m not sure they will stop them.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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