Rochdale v Salford City
Rochdale are in dire form as they prepare to take on a Salford City side who are eyeing promotion to League One.
The hosts are 22nd in the league table after just three wins in their opening 16 games and are only outside the relegation zone on goal difference after a poor start to the season. They lost 1-0 away at Bristol Rovers last time out in the FA Cup and their boss Jim Bentley said he was ‘frustrated’ again with the performance. On the injury front, Rochdale remain without striker Scott Quigley which is a blow as he has scored three goals since his loan move from Stockport County. His replacement up front Ian Henderson has only found the net once so far in the league this term.
The North West side go into their clash on Tuesday on the back of five games in all competitions without a win so their confidence will be low at the moment. They have struggled for goals in this campaign and have the second worst return in the division behind Gillingham, with bottom of the table Colchester United and 23rd place Hartlepool United managing to find the net more. In addition, the Dale have only won once at Spotland so far this term out of a possible seven which doesn’t bode well for them at all.
Salford are 8th and are only outside the play-offs on goal difference as they hope this is the year that they finally get out of League Two. They picked up a 0-0 draw away at League One outfit Peterborough United in the cup over the weekend and their manager Neil Wood said he thought they were ‘really good’. Midfielder Jason Lowe remains out of action for the Ammies but isn’t missed too much at the moment with the likes of Ryan Watson, Elliot Watt, Matty Lund and Jack Jenkins all proving to be useful options in the middle of the park over recent times.
Salford are strong on the road and have won five out of their first eight league matches on their travels, most notably picking up three points against Sutton United and Northampton Town which shows they know how to get results on the road. They have strength in the depth in their squad and players who can hurt a lowly Rochdale side such as Watson, striker Callum Hendry and Manchester United loan man Ethan Galbraith so should get something from the game if they show up.
AFC Wimbledon v Leyton Orient
AFC Wimbledon have been inconsistent so far this season and table toppers Leyton Orient will fancy their chances of beating them.
The Dons’ aim is to gain an immediate return to League One after their relegation last term but they find themselves down in 15th place after just five wins from their opening 16 games. They drew 1-1 away at Weymouth in the FA Cup last time out and that was a poor result considering their opponents are bottom of the National League South. Their boss Johnnie Jackson said that they lost ‘momentum’ in the match and the fact they couldn’t beat a non-league team is a worry. Wimbledon hope to have Brentford loan man Nathan Young Coombes back over the next couple of weeks which would be a big boost. However, Tuesday is likely to come too soon for him which is a blow meaning the likes of Ayoub Assal, Josh Davison and Courtney Senior will play again in attacking areas.
The Dons can’t seem to string a set of results together and have won twice in their last six in the league, showing how hot and cold they can be. Leaking goals is an issue and they have let in 24 in this campaign and haven’t kept a clean sheet since 6th August against Hartlepool United.
Leyton Orient sit at the summit and have lost just once in their first 16 outings. They are three points ahead of 2nd place Stevenage and eight points inside the automatic promotion places. The London club were beaten 1-0 away at Crewe Alexandra in their last game but being knocked out of the cup isn’t a bad thing for them as it means they can focus solely on the league. However, manager Richie Wellens will no doubt be looking for a response on Tuesday against Wimbledon and has said that ‘little things’ went against his players which resulted in the defeat. The O’s made changes for their trip to Crewe and are likely to bring their stronger players back into the starting XI like forward Paul Smuth, winger Theo Archibald and attacker Aaron Drinan. Midfielder Darren Pratley, who has been out of action recently, made the bench last time out so could return too.
Leyton Orient’s attack has been on fire this season and they have scored 26 goals already, with only Northampton Town managing to find the net more. More importantly, their defence is water-tight and they have only let in nine which means they have the best defensive record in the whole of the Football League which is extremely impressive.
Mansfield Town v Bradford City
Mansfield Town lock horns with Bradford City meaning there should be plenty of goals.
The Stags are only outside the play-offs on goal difference and are level on points with the Bantams which shows there is not much to split these two teams at all. They beat Barrow 1-0 away in the FA Cup last time out with forward Ollie Hawkins scoring the goal in the first-half and their boss Nigel Clough praised the ‘character’ his players have. Midfielder Stephen Quinn is a doubt for the visit of Bradford but the Nottinghamshire outfit have strong options to choose from in his position such as George Maris, Anthony Hartigan and Ollie Clarke. Mansfield will fancy their chances of scoring as they have fired 25 goals in 16 games this term, with only table toppers Leyton Orient and 3rd place Northampton Town managing more.
They also spread goals around the team which is useful with George Lapslie and Will Swan on five, Hawkins on four, Riley Harbottle on three and Jordan Bowery, Lucas Akins, Maris and Clarke on two. However, they are vulnerable to conceding and let in five in their last league clash at home to Swindon Town as they were beaten 5-2. Clough’s men have let in 21 goals so far this term which is the worst record in the top 10 so obviously have their issues.
Bradford are 6th in the table and will be looking to bounce back from their 1-0 home loss to Harrogate Town in the FA Cup. Their manager Mark Hughes has said their trip to Field Mill is the ‘perfect game’ to bounce back. One positive from the match over the weekend was the return of forward Abo Eisa from injury. He made his first appearance of the season and gives his boss more options to choose from in attack which is a boost going into the next few weeks. Bradford will be confident of causing Mansfield’s leaky defence some problems, especially with creative players such as Dion Pereira, Harry Chapman and Tyreik Wright. Prolific scorer Andy Cook was given a rest against Harrogate and started on the bench meaning he will be fresh. He has scored 10 goals in the league and has been on fire since the start of the campaign as he looks to score against his former club. At the other end of the pitch, Bradford have shown they aren’t the finished product at the back and have kept just two cleans sheets in their last seven. They dropped points against Stockport County, Grimsby Town, Swindon Town and Crawley Town last month so have some issues to address.
Harrogate Town v Carlisle United
Harrogate Town are struggling down the bottom end of the table and are in for a tough clash against Carlisle United.
The Sulphurites had a distraction from their poor league form over the weekend and won 1-0 away at fellow Yorkshire club Bradford City in the FA Cup. Their boss Simon Weaver said his side were ‘immense’ but after such a hard-fought and tiring performance, Tuesday’s game could be a step too far. Defender Rory McArdle missed the trip to Valley Parade to face his former club but could be back for the next game but it depends whether his manager wants to risk him. If not, Warren Burrell and Joe Mattock could keep their place in the heart of defence.
Harrogate are down in 21st place and have struggled for results so far this season, picking up just three wins out of a possible 16. They are only outside the relegation zone on goal difference and will be nervously looking over their shoulder. The Sulphurites have scored just 14 goals in the league this term which is the third-worst return in the division and have also let in 24. Their recent form hasn’t been great either and they have won just once in their last 11 league outings meaning their confidence will be low.
Carlisle have made a decent start to the campaign and occupy the last play-off spot in 7th at the moment. They have picked up some useful results this term and beat Tranmere Rovers 2-1 in the FA Cup over the weekend courtesy of goals from attacker Jordan Gibson and midfielder Jayden Harris. The Cumbrians also beat the same opponents 2-0 away last time out in the league. Their boss Paul Simpson is pleased with the way things are going and has said that he ‘can’t ask’ for any more from his players right now and that they have been ‘absolutely brilliant’. They will be without midfielder Jon Mellish for game against Harrogate as he serves a suspension but they have useful options in his position like Callum Guy, Owen Moxon and Tyler Charters. Striker Ryan Edmondson is back after serving his three-match suspension which is good news and he gives Simpson another option to pick from in attack.
Carlisle have a very strong chance of picking up a result with Krystian Dennis up top. The 32-year-old has scored 10 goals in all competitions, nine of which have come in the league, and is proving to be one of the deadliest strikers in the league this year. They will be in good spirits after their back-to-back wins over Tranmere and should have too much for lowly Harrogate.
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