Notts County v Barnet
Friday 21st January – 7:45PM KO
Notts County have well and truly found their mojo again in the National League.
Since three consecutive defeats in late September and early October, The Magpies have played 11 league matches, winning eight and losing just one. Most impressively, that has run has consisted of wins against promotion-chasing Stockport County, Grimsby Town, Solihull Moors, Dagenham and Redbridge and Wrexham while drawing with Bromley and Boreham Wood. They come into this fixture having won their last four league matches, scoring 13 goals in the process, their four home matches in the league and also saw off Eastleigh in the FA Trophy last weekend.
Few will be giving Barnet much of a chance in this one and it’s understandable. For starters, The Bees are now four without victory and their last game was a 4-1 thrashing delivered by Chesterfield, the first time they have conceded more than once in a game since mid-October. Furthermore, Barnet have picked up six points from a possible 36 against sides currently in the top half with their sole victory coming against a then-struggling Stockport County.
While it would be tempting to select both teams to score (Notts County have scored in all 11 home matches and conceded in nine of them), I have to back Ian Burchnall’s side to record another victory.
Prediction: Notts County to Win, 1.53 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Southend v Kings Lynn Town
Friday 21st January – 7:45PM KO
A selection that is more about Southend United than King’s Lynn Town.
The Shrimpers have been arguably the worst side in English professional football over the last three years and not even a drop into non-league was changing that. Amid continued protests off the field against Ron Martin’s ownership, the club was failling to perform on it with Phil Brown losing his job after recording eight points in 10 matches. Kevin Maher’s appointment couldn’t bring immediate rewards either, losing four of his first five matches in charge with their only break being victory over winless Dover Athletic.
However, the club legend, accompanied by highly-rated ex-Barnet manager Darren Currie, has overseen a change of personnel and tactics which has led to much-improved performances and, slowly, results. Having failed to score in nine of their first 15 matches, The Essex outfit have now scored in each of their last six and have lost just once in that time – away at high-flying Notts County. They have won both of their league matches this calendar year and will fancy themselves to get the better of King’s Lynn Town, especially as they have record 1.82 points per game against sides currently 11th or lower in the table.
Tommy Widdrington will fancy himself to get things right in time but The Linnetts have lost 11 of their last 12 matches, including each of their last six away from home, scoring just twice. This is Southend’s game for the taking.
Prediction: Southend to Win, 1.57 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Altrincham v Torquay United
Saturday 22nd January- 3:00PM KO
It’s been difficult to judge Torquay United this season. It’s hard to know exactly what the feeling at the club has been like given they came so close to winning promotion to the EFL not once, but twice. Then came an underwhelming summer of recruitment and a season that has been interrupted by injuries to key players, such as Asa Hall, Conor Lemonheigh-Evans and Danny Wright. However, that trio has returned and The Gulls have won four of their last six, finding their feet in front of goal again, even if the back door remains somewhat leaky.
Altrincham have gone the opposite, enjoying an excellent start to the season before embarking on a run of one victory in 15 matches. It has led to chopping and changing from Alty manager Phil Parkinson who has given starts to summer signing Kenneth Digie, moved centre-back Toby Mullarkey into midfield and thrown new signings Elliot Osborne and Jordan Hulme into the XI. It hasn’t worked as of yet.
Goals are likely in this one. Torquay United and Altrincham are averaging at least 1.5 goals per game overall this season while only the bottom four have conceded more goals. Each of Torquay United’s last seven matches have seen at least three goals scored, as have six of Altrincham’s last 10. Altrincham have kept just two clean sheets this season and Torquay United are yet to keep a clean sheet away from home.
Prediction: Both Teams to Score, 1.57 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Chesterfield v Aldershot
Saturday 22nd January – 3:00PM KO
The last time Chesterfield lost a football match in the league was in late September at Woking. They responded by going on a 12-match unbeaten run in the league and made it to the third round of the FA Cup. The last time they lost a match in any competition was in the FA Cup Third Round against Chelsea and they promptly put four past Barnet.
Few predicted that Chesterfield would lose 3-2 against Maidenhead United in midweek, even despite the Berkshire club’s reputation for doing the unthinkable. The Spireites won’t want to lose again and James Rowe will want to make sure of that. The ex-Gloucester City manager will likely make a couple of changes to his starting XI to freshen things up after a lackadaisical performance, including a return to the starting XI for Akwasi Asante.
Mark Molesley will be hoping his side aren’t coming up against a wounded beast here. His Aldershot Town side have been excellent in recent months, losing just one of their last nine and winning five, an impressive feat giving they were without so many senior bodies for a lot of that run. However, a lot of that run has been against sides in the bottom half of the table and their record against the top 11 has been poor – one win (v Grimsby Town) and 10 losses.
I don’t doubt that The Shots will put up a fight here but the aim for Chesterfield will be to get back on track and they should do that.
Prediction: Chesterfield to Win, 1.44 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Dagenham & Redbridge v Stockport
Saturday 22nd January – 3:00PM KO
This should be a great advert for non-league football and BT Sport deserve credit for selecting it as their live National League fixture. It should be a game full of attacking intent and forward thinking football.
Firstly, Dagenham and Redbridge. Daryl McMahon’s side are well and truly cooking again, swapping a run of eight defeats in 12 matches for four wins and a draw in their last five. They have scored in each of their last six matches and are the highest scorers in the division overall, averaging ever so shy of two goals per game. Injuries at various points to Dean Rance, Matt Robinson and Joey Jones have led to McMahon often selecting two wingers, an attacking midfielder and three strikers in his starting XI, something that has paid off with his team scoring 12 goals in their last six.
Secondly, Stockport County who have the shackles well and truly taken off. The 3-0 home victory against Eastleigh in midweek means The Hatters have now scored 31 goals in 10 league matches since the departure of Simon Rusk. The goals are coming from everywhere as well with those 31 goals being scored by 12 players while strikers Scott Quigley, Paddy Madden and Olly Crankshaw (winger converted) have scored 17.
Neither side is particularly strong defensively either with The Daggers having not kept a clean sheet against a side higher than 14th in the league and Stockport conceding in six of their nine league matches under Challinor. It should be a belter.
Prediction: Over 2.5 Goals, 1.73 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
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