GW 18 – Ones to Watch
Ally: I’m on dangerous ground with my first tip as I’m backing my own team Nottingham Forest to maintain their excellent recent form in their Championship clash with bottom side Ipswich Town at the City Ground. The Reds have reached the heady heights of sixth place under the tutelage of manager Aitor Karanka, and boast in-form striker Lewis Grabban who is the league’s second top scorer with 12 goals. While Forest only have 11 league goals in nine games at home, they have failed to score just once in those matches – against improving Stoke City a fortnight ago. The Reds are also in good goalscoring form, evidenced most recently by the incredible 5-5 draw at Aston Villa on Wednesday evening. Visitors Ipswich are in torrid form away from Portman Road, having conceded at least 2 goals in each of their last eight matches on the road, indeed the Tractor Boys have yet to keep a clean sheet away from home this season (in any competition). They also have a poor record at Forest, having kept only two clean sheets and winning just once in their last 14 visits to Nottingham, a run stretching back to 1999.
My second tip takes me to Scottish League Two, where Clyde face Berwick Rangers at their Broadwood home. The hosts have been inconsistent of late, with just two wins in five games, both away from home, but they have at least scored in each of those five matches. Indeed they have only failed to score in one home game this season, while the visitors boast an away record of seven defeats and two wins in all competitions. Rangers have failed to score in any of those defeats, conceding 18 goals in the process, and to illustrate the crazy nature of Scottish lower league football, their two victories have seen scorelines of 5-3 and most recently 4-2, so regardless of the result I see goals here. Good luck!
Matt: Well after maintaining a 100% record in this section until GW 17, i managed to bow out in some style with a double whammy of non-scoring teams in Borussia Dortmund and Leyton Orient, both of whom i was pretty confident about! A timely reminder that this game will often bite when you least expect it!
GW 18 is FA Cup weekend in England, so as always that’s going to throw up decent scoring opportunities and it’s there i’ll head first. Tranmere Rovers made hard work of National League South side Oxford City in the previous round, being held 3-3 at home (and very nearly knocked out by the gallant non leaguers) before winning 2-0 in the replay. This time they’re facing a team from the National League North, Southport FC, in what is going to be a very keenly contested local derby i’m sure. Whilst Rovers’ form has been somewhat indifferent of late, with equal amounts of wins, draws and losses in their previous six matches, Southport are on their best run of the season, having notched up three straight league wins to help lift them out of the relegation zone. Including cup competitions, they’re unbeaten in seven and will believe they can go to their neighbour’s back yard and pull off a shock. Whilst i’m not ruling that out, i do think Tranmere should have more than enough about them to get on the scoresheet a couple of times, especially if prolific goalscorer James Norwood is in the starting line up.
For tip number two, i’m going to give this team one more chance to deliver the goods for me! I’ve backed them in the ‘Ones to Watch’ twice already this season and on both occasions they’ve only returned me a single goal, so this is last chance saloon for them! The team in question is Salford City, who face south coast based Havant and Waterlooville at Moor Lane. The Ammies have notched 7 goals in their last two league games on home turf, and aside from a 3-1 home defeat by Shrewsbury Town in an FA Cup replay recently, are unbeaten since way back on the 11th of August! Manager Graham Alexander and the club’s illustrious owners will surely be targeting and indeed expecting 3 points against a Havant side who are without a win in nine on their travels. Whilst their home form is excellent, The Hawks are really struggling on the road and hovering dangerously close to the National League’s relegation zone. A trip to Salford could well result in another bad away day as you have to fancy that the home side will get among the goals. Good luck!