Brackley Town v Alfreton Town (National League North)
Brackley Town’s hopes of winning the National League North title were given a huge boost with a 1-0 victory against Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday.
That result means that Brackley Town remain three points behind league leaders Gateshead with a game in hand. It also means they have conceded just one goal in their last seven matches and won each of their last five at home. Kevin Wilkin’s side have won ten and drew two of their last 12 at St.James’ Park and have kept nine clean sheets during that time, conceding only four goals.
It feels unlikely that Alfreton Town are about to end that unbeaten run. Billy Heath’s side have won just four of their last 18 matches and one of their last eight – a second half comeback victory against lowly AFC Telford United. Their 3-0 defeat against AFC Fylde on Saturday ended a four-game unbeaten run in which they beat Telford and drew 0-0 with both Gloucester City and Farsley Celtic. They have scored in just two of their last eight matches and their record against the better sides is unimpressive too – they have earned just one point from seven matches against sides in the top seven and lost all four away matches.
Brackley aren’t exciting but they get results and should pick up another in midweek.
Gateshead v Curzon Ashton (National League North)
A selection based on confidence in Gateshead and their ability to win football matches.
Mike Williamson’s side currently sit top of the table, three points clear of Brackley Town and their home record is a huge part of that – they have won 13 of 15 matches at the Gateshead International Stadium. Their two defeats came against 3rd place AFC Fylde and 5th place Chorley meaning they have a perfect record against sides 6th or lower in the division. They come into this game in great form too having won seven and drawn one of their last eight, scoring 23 goals.
Curzon Ashton have been a difficult side to work out this season. They have picked up eight of their 11 wins this season against sides in the bottom half but have also seen six of their nine defeats come against the same opposition. Meanwhile, their record against sides in the top half reads three wins, three losses and eight draws. That pattern has continued recently with a victory at AFC Fylde and draws at Southport and York City. However, they lost against Gateshead early in the season and goals are an issue for them against the better sides – they have failed to score in six of ten matches against top seven sides and scored more than once just twice.
This might be a difficult test for Gateshead but their recent form and ability to score goals – they have scored at least twice in all 13 home wins – should see them through in this one.
Guiseley v AFC Telford United (National League North)
It’s 21st v 20th on Tuesday night in a game that could have huge ramifications in the battle to avoid the drop and both sides have reasons to be confident.
Guiseley come into the game two points adrift of their opponents on Saturday but crucially have three games in hand. Their best chance of survival is their home form with The Lions having won five, drawn two and lost one of their eight home matches against sides in the bottom half, including a huge victory against Blyth Spartans last time out.
AFC Telford United come into this game having lost just two of their last seven matches and the signings of Rob Evans, Reiss McNally and Ryan Burke have further improved their side to the point of seeing them draw at AFC Fylde and beat Spennymoor Town.
Guiseley have failed to score in five of their last six but the result of their strong home record against bottom half sides means they have scored in seven of their eight home matches and conceded in five. They have also scored in six and conceded in five of their matches against bottom half sides overall. Paul Carden, meanwhile, has spoken of how his side need to start winning football matches and that is evident in their recent results – they have scored in each of their last eight and conceded in seven.
Spennymoor Town v AFC Fylde (National League North)
I’m backing James Rowe to make it 13 points from his first five matches in midweek.
While AFC Fylde are all but assured of their play-off position now – they are 15 points clear of 8th place Boston United – the nature of the play-off system in the National League means that a third-place finish is an important finishing position due to home advantage and a semi-final position. They bounced back from a surprising 1-1 draw with AFC Telford United to beat Alfreton Town 3-0 at the weekend to extend their lead over Kidderminster Harriers to three points. They have won eight of their 16 away matches this season, including four of their last six.
Spennymoor Town will provide tough opposition for Fylde. Before their weekend defeat at AFC Telford United, The Moors had gone six without defeat, winning four as Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson started to build some momentum in the Northeast. However, Spennymoor have won just one of six matches against top half sides at home and lost two of the four played against sides in the top seven. They have also picked up just one point from six matches against sides in the top four, failing to score in four and conceding two or more in five.
York City v Boston United (National League North)
It’s 7th versus 8th on Tuesday evening as in-form York City take on Paul Cox’s Boston United.
John Askey has transformed York City and the Minstermen are currently on an unbeaten run of ten, winning six with all four draws coming against sides in the top ten. Boston United, lost at home for the first time under Paul Cox on Saturday, a 2-1 defeat against league leaders Gateshead. They have won four, drawn four and lost three since Cox took the reins, performing largely to expectation based on the results and league position of the sides they have played.
What Boston United have done is score in all 11 matches played under Cox and they have kept just three clean sheets in that time – against Chester, Farsley Celtic and Guiseley. They have scored in all but four matches this season overall and all but one against sides in the top 13 of the league table. They have kept just seven clean sheets this season and only one of those has come against a side in the top half.
York City, meanwhile, have seen both teams score in five of their last eight matches with the three outliers being Curzon Ashton, an AFC Fylde side whose manager was about to be sacked and a Guiseley side who struggle to score against top half sides. They have scored in nine of their last ten matches and conceded in six, including Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Southport.
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