Cheltenham Town v Cambridge United
Potentially another opportunity to get Mark Bonner’s plucky Cambridge United onside, as outsiders against a side that they have shown far more promise than so far this season. The U’s are fifth in League One after seven encounters, picking up seven points from their last three outings and are preparing to travel to a Cheltenham Town side who have won just once in the league and are languishing in 22nd place.
Michael Duff’s exit to Barnsley appears to have deflated the squad, and the loss of their Will Boyle, who was one of the best ball playing centre backs in League One last season, to Huddersfield Town, has left a significant hole in their backline. It already feels like Wade Elliott is setting them up to scrap against the drop, where they were very comfortable in stabilising in the third tier last term.
With Harvey Knibbs, Shilow Tracey, Joe Ironside and Sam Smith carrying a potent attacking threat for the visitors, against a Robins side who have the sixth-worst defence in the league according to expected goals (xG), Bonner will be bullish about taking something from the game.
Peterborough United v Fleetwood Town
Fleetwood Town have made a competent but not sparkling start to the League One campaign, picking up seven points from as many games with a goal difference of 0. Scott Brown has made them much tougher to beat than they were in the second half of last season, and as things stand they look set to improve on last term’s 20th placed finish.
The Cod Army are unsustainably over performing in their rearguard, conceding just 7 goals from 10.31 xGA so far, which could regress to the mean when they visit Peterborough United. The Posh have looked like automatic promotion contenders at times this term, and have won their three home games so far to 4-0, 3-0 and 2-0 score lines. The introduction of five substitutes make a squad like Peterborough’s more dangerous, with Grant McCann having an abundance of attacking options who can affect the game from the bench.
Fleetwood have made some important striders in their opening seven matches, but the trip to London Road looks set to be a bridge too far with the likes of Jack Marriott and Jonson Clarke-Harris capable of filling their boots.
Burton Albion v Portsmouth
There is finally optimism back in Burton upon Trent. The Brewers have made an atrocious start to their League One season, collecting just a single point from a possible 21 and conceding 20 goals, the most of any team across England’s four highest tiers. Manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink announced his resignation at Burton Albion on Monday 5th September after 20 months at the helm, and it soon became clear that his assistant Dino Maamria has taken up the managerial role. A dedicated coach with plenty of experience in turning around sides at their bottom of their divisions, the Tunisian has quickly looked to unite the Burton fanbase and will hope to get off to a winning start with one of Burton’s most high-profile home games of the season. A large away crowd is expected at the Pirelli Stadium and Burton’s players have shown in the past how they can rise to these bigger occasions under the floodlights.
The challenge awaiting Dino Maamria in his first Burton Albion game though could not be more difficult. Portsmouth sit joint top of the League One table after seven matches, separated by fellow unbeaten side Ipswich Town by just goal difference. Despite criticism from certain other managers, Danny Cowley has been perfectly demonstrating how a simple 4-4-2 formation can still prove effective in professional football. Solidified by a solid base of goalkeeper Josh Griffiths behind Sean Raggett and Michael Morrison, Clark Robertson and Joe Rafferty provide forward support from full-back roles with Ronan Curtis and Owen Dale further forwards up either flank. Marlon Pack, back at Pompey for the first time since 2011, is a consistent presence in midfield whilst the ex-Crewe man Tom Lowery provides technical creativity alongside him. Tottenham Hotspur loanee Dane Scarlett continues to show evergrowing improvement at Fratton Park and has four goals in his last three games in all competitions. Ipswich Town loanee Joe Pigott is a striker who can partner Scarlett up top, or Portsmouth can alternatively utilise Colby Bishop, himself already on four league goals this season.
With quality players like Connor Ogilvie, Michael Jacobs and Reeco Hackett-Fairchild in reserve, Portsmouth have more than enough quality to justify their position at the top of the third tier table here. Burton Albion will enter this game with the potential for a ‘shackles-off’ performance under their new manager, but the task ahead of them is likely to not be harder for the rest of the season. Pompey will have no intention of letting the bottom club’s new boss get off to a winning start.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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