GW 20 – Ones to Watch

Ally: I’m delving into the FA Trophy for my tips this weekend. First up is National League North side Brackley Town who face Hayes & Yeading from the Isthmian South Central League, two rungs further down the football league pyramid. Brackley have been consistent top half performers in their league for a number of seasons, without making the leap into the National League itself. While they are without a win in five league games, they have only failed to score in 2 games all season, and they secured a comfortable passage to the last 32 of the FA Trophy with a 3-0 home win against fellow NL North side Nuneaton. Visitors Hayes have been in fine form themselves to sit second in the league, racking up 54 goals in 14 matches, though Brackley will provide a significant step up in quality and I expect the home side to progress.

My other tip takes me to east London, where my nemesis Leyton Orient face Beaconsfield Town in another FA Trophy match. The hosts are currently challenging for promotion from the National League back into the Football League proper, while Beaconsfield are in the Southern League Central division, in the eighth tier of the football pyramid. Orient may be top of the league but they have an inconsistent streak at home, particularly at home where they have failed to score in 3 of their previous 6 home games. However they are also capable of scoring big when they are in the mood, and so this is a risk I’m prepared to take in pursuit of goals and points.

Weather update…

Just a word of warning for Saturday – current weather forecasts are predicting widespread snow across large parts of Scotland, so be prepared to check the fixtures for postponements if your selections feature any teams from north of the border, as you can change them right up to kick-off or 2.55pm (whichever is earlier).

Good luck!

Matt: GW 20 looks, on paper at least, to be absolutely packed with potential and primed for goals, goals and more goals. My gut feeling is that we could see some seriously big scores here so i think it’s vital not to miss out.

No scarcity of teams have made my shortlist, so the only ‘problem’ is who to cull when making my own selections and then narrow it down further for the purposes of this section. I’m a big fan of delving into the lesser known leagues and competitions whenever i can, so on that basis i’m tipping Spennymoor Town in their FA Trophy tie against Barwell FC of the Southern League Premier Division. Town are currently plying their trade in the National League North and doing very nicely for themselves; prior to last weekend’s slightly surprising 3-1 home defeat by Stockport County, they’d won four and drawn one of their previous five games, including a 7-1 league victory at Alfreton Town and an incredible 8-2 success against Halesowen Town in the previous round of this very competition. That suggests to me that Moors are taking it seriously, so a fixture against a Barwell side who are fresh off the back of consecutive away losses over the past fortnight should present a great opportunity to get among the goals once more.

There’s plenty more to go at in the FA Trophy, but to mix it up a little i’ll head elsewhere for tip number two. In League One, it’s third placed Sunderland v Bristol Rovers at the Stadium of Light. The Mackems were knocked out of the FA Cup in midweek after a shock 1-0 defeat at home to Walsall, so i’m hopeful that the squad’s confidence won’t have taken a battering as a result! They’ve got a fantastic chance to put things right here as they go up against a Rovers side who have lost four league games on the bounce, most recent of all being the horrific 4-0 defeat at home to Doncaster Rovers. ‘The Gas’ have slipped into the relegation zone as a consequence of their terrible form and quite frankly it’s hard to envisage them ending that dismal spell of results in what must rank as one of their hardest fixtures of the season to date. Good luck to you all.