GW 17 – Ones to Watch

Matt: Looks like it was another troublesome ‘international week’ for many of you last weekend, a common theme not just this season but also in those gone by. The introduction of the National Leagues North & South teams always seems to result in carnage – although in fairness much of the damage appears to have been done elsewhere (i’m looking at Inverness CT in particular!)

More of that could be heading our way in GW 17, as we have the Scottish Cup Third Round in play and if i remember correctly the previous round caused all manner of problems – not least in this section where a couple of our tips came an absolute cropper (Stenhousemuir losing 3-0 to part-timers Penicuik Athletic springs to mind!) That said, there are undoubtedly some tempting options on offer in that competition and it’s there i’ll pluck my first tip from in the form of Queen of the South. This is actually a battle of the Queens in fact, as QoS are up against League Two outfit Queen’s Park, who as many of you will know are famous for playing home games at the national stadium, Hampden Park. The mid-table Championship side, who boast another favourite nickname of mine, The Doonhamers, have recently thrashed both of the top two on home turf (Ayr 3-1 and leaders Dundee United 4-0!) which suggests that they enjoy their Palmerston Park surroundings. The visitors are the epitome of inconsistent on the road, yo-yoing between victories and defeats over the past couple of months, with their most recent away match resulting in a 1-0 loss at a previously out of sorts Cowdenbeath. I’m sure The Spiders will be out to cause an upset, but i have a feeling that their hosts will get among the goals in this encounter.

In England’s League Two another battle has caught my eye, but this time it’s the clash of the Towns as Northampton take on Grimsby at the Sixfields Stadium. The hosts are the form team of the division right now, collecting 13 points from a possible 15 on offer in their previous five games – with a convincing win at Chippenham Town in the FA Cup thrown in for good measure! The Saddlers demolished recent league leaders Crewe Alexandra 4-1 on home soil last weekend so confidence will be high in the camp, especially as their visitors from Cleethorpes are winless since a 3-1 victory at Exeter City back in late September. In October and November The Mariners have mustered just a solitary point in the league, with a 4-0 home mauling by Leyton Orient a particular low point! If Northampton are in the same destructive mood as they were against Crewe then a similar scoreline in this fixture cannot be ruled out! Good luck to you all.

Ally: After the success of tipping Blackpool last week (2-0 win over AFC Wimbledon), I’m staying on the Fylde coast for my first tip this week, but a few miles further north where Fleetwood Town welcome Tranmere Rovers. After a strong start Fleetwood have fallen down the League One table a little of late, currently sitting in 8th place but they do boast a strong home record taking 19 points from their 8 home league games, scoring 14 goals and failing to score just once in a 1-0 defeat to then leaders Ipswich Town. They also seem to be hitting some goalscoring form, bagging 10 in their last 3 home matches, 5 in the 2 league matches and another 5 in a rout of Oldham in the EFL Trophy. Visitors Tranmere arrive at Highbury with a poor away record, but are showing some signs of improvement having registered 2 wins (their first of the season) in the last 3 matches on the road, but they do only have one away clean sheet so far and for that reason I’m backing the Cod Army to reel in another 3 points.

I’m also going to dip my toe into the Scottish Cup, with the clash between League Two strugglers Albion Rovers playing host to current League One leaders Airdrieonians. The Diamonds have been on a great run of late, particularly away from home where they have put together 5 straight league wins, and 9 wins out of 11 in all competitions. Needless to say this away form has been key to propelling them up the league, and they will no doubt see this fixture as a great opportunity to progress to the next round and hopefully a money spinning clash, especially given Albion’s poor form. The Wee Rovers have only managed 2 home wins all season and are yet to keep a clean sheet at Cliftonhill, indeed they have just one home clean sheet in all competitions in this calendar year! Good luck with your selections!