GW 21 – Ones to Watch

Matt: A very profitable recent run on the tips front was brought to an abrupt halt rather unexpectedly last weekend, as Rotherham United suffered a shock home loss to injury hit Rochdale. It’s another stark reminder that nothing can be taken for granted in The Ultimate Goals.

GW 21 offers up the chance to get straight back on the scoring trail, especially as we have the addition of 32 FA Trophy fixtures now that the National League teams are involved in the competition. There are certain dangers in putting your faith here though; will these National League sides go full strength against lower league opposition for starters! And there’s nearly always a cup upset or two in the early rounds of any given competition! That said, i will probably take a punt on a few teams and they’ll include Stockport County. The Hatters have been in scintillating goalscoring form over the past fortnight, thrashing Torquay Utd 5-1 in their own backyard and then following that up with a 4-2 beating of Chorley at Edgeley Park. County have only failed to score twice at home since losing to the very same opposition back in April, when they faced Blyth before being promoted from the National League North shortly afterwards. Given that The Spartans don’t seem to deal in clean sheets full stop, never mind on their travels (recently they’ve conceded 4 v Kettering, 5 v Spennymoor and 6 v Brackley as prime examples) then a repeat of that 1-0 away win would appear to be highly unlikely. So long as County don’t take this one too lightly, then there should be goals knocking about here.

Returning to league action, i’m taking a trip into the unpredictable world of the English Championship for my second tip. With the best home record in the division and having scored the second highest amount of goals on home turf, Preston North End must surely fancy their chances of getting another 3 points against a Luton Town side who are hovering perilously above the drop zone. The main reason for this is their woeful away form of late; The Hatters have lost six games on the bounce on the road and conceded a whopping 20 goals in that time. Their 3-0 midweek loss at Stoke City was actually a massive improvement on their previous away fixture – a 7-0 drubbing by Brentford! Things will not get any easier at Deepdale, as The Lillywhites from Lancashire go in hunt of a win that could take them as high as third in the Championship table. The head-to-head fixtures also favour North End, having beaten Luton at Deepdale four times running, and all the signs point towards that run being extended to a fifth consecutive win. It’d be a major surprise to see a Luton clean sheet that’s for sure! Good luck to you all.

Ally: I too am going to dip my toe into the FA Trophy, and one game that has caught my attention features National League side Eastleigh who welcome Southern Premier South side Yate Town to the Silverlake Stadium. The visitors sit two divisions lower in the football league pyramid, and it’s fair to say they are not in the best of form right now, having lost 10 of their 18 league matches and are unlikely to be brimming with confidence as they sit just 2 places off the relegation zone. Hosts Eastleigh are winless in their last 4 matches, though 2 of those were in the FA Cup as League Two high fliers Crewe needed a replay to progress. Their home form has generally been good this season, failing to score just twice, with the highlight being a 4 match winning streak in late October and November which saw them amass 14 goals, and I’m expecting home advantage to see the Spitfires come out on top here.

My second selection may not come as a great surprise, but I have championed Peterborough’s cause for some time this season, undoubtedly helped by a handsome 6-0 win the first time i tipped them! The Posh are still far and away League One’s leading goalscorers on 42, a whopping 14 more than Wycombe and Ipswich, the two sides directly above them who currently occupy the automatic promotion places. The visit of an out of sorts Bolton side, who are yet to adapt to their off-field troubles, is unlikely to cause too much concern, particularly given the Trotters’ dismal away form which has seen just one league win and 26 goals conceded in just 7 matches. Peterborough also boast the league’s joint leading scorers in Mo Eisa and Ivan Toney with 13 apiece, while fellow forward Marcus Maddison has 9 to his name. To put this in some context, Bolton have scored just 11 all season, and i don’t expect them to leave London Road with anything other than another dent in their goal difference! Good luck.