GW 22 – Ones to Watch

Matt: Another thrilling weekend in GW 21, par for the course in the game, with a rollercoaster of emotions thanks, in the main, to some memorable FA Cup moments (and Scottish Cup too in fact). In the gameweeks where these competitions are included, TUG really can produce fireworks……..some of which fail to ignite if you come a cropper due to the almost inevitable shocks we see on such a regular basis. Last weekend certainly threw up a major one, as Leeds Utd succumbed badly at Crawley Town, whilst Dundee were just seconds away from wiping out a truck load of players, before finally netting in the 94th minute against a very spirited Bonnyrigg Rose! The highs and lows of this game right there.

Let’s hope that the footballing gods are kinder to us this coming weekend, as Ally and I have had BOTH fixtures involving our top tips postponed over the past couple of weeks! If Covid hasn’t beaten us the weather has. Third time lucky! First up for me is what some of you will consider a slightly dangerous trip into The Championship, where everybody seems to beat everybody, with the match between Watford and Huddersfield Town catching my eye. In this league all results really are possible, but my inkling is there could be some goals in this for The Hornets – mainly because of Huddersfield’s poor away record as much as anything. And whilst it’s true to say Watford haven’t been finding the net as much as they’d liked to have this season, they have only failed to score once at home. Aside from that 1-0 defeat to Cardiff, they’ve won eight and drawn two of their 11 games at Vicarage Road, with league leaders Norwich City their most recent victims, putting them top of the league’s home form guide. The likes of Blackburn Rovers, Stoke City and Preston North End have all been disposed of in Hertfordshire, with goals aplenty (the latter a 4-1 thumping), and with the West Yorkshiremen struggling defensively on their travels so far this campaign, recently appointed manager Xisco Munoz will be confident of securing the points and maintaining an all important top six position. The Terriers have actually managed a couple of clean sheets in their previous six away matches, but in the other four they have conceded at an alarming rate – with the 5-0 drubbing at Bournemouth in December a particular low point. Last weekend’s 3-2 FA Cup defeat at home to League One side Plymouth Argyle won’t have been well received by the Huddersfield faithful, who will be desperate for a response, but it’s unlikely to get any easier for their players on Saturday afternoon, when Troy Deeney and co. will be in their faces (literally in Deeney’s case I would imagine!)

You may have noticed that we’ve included the National Leagues North & South this week, and indeed for the foreseeable future, in response to the temporary halting of Scottish League One and Two. I’m taking full advantage at the earliest opportunity, by plucking out AFC Fylde in their NLN home fixture against Blyth Spartans. The Coasters, nicknamed that for obvious reasons (i hope!), are gunning for an instant return to the National League, having been relegated somewhat unfortunately due to the 2019/20 season being curtailed in March, with the West Lancashire club second-bottom at that point. They’re certainly going the right way about it, currently finding themselves in third spot in the standings, but with three games in hand on leaders Gloucester City. On Saturday Fylde will know that three points against the league’s basement side is an absolute must, with goals seemingly there for taking given Blyth’s woeful defensive record that has seen them ship 36 times in the league already this season, most recently a full half dozen of them at Darlington! And if The Coasters’ home form is anything to go by, we could well see the visiting ‘keeper picking the ball out of the net more than once; Fylde are top of table in this regard, with four wins and a draw from five outings to their name, scoring seven times in their previous two games alone. A 4-0 home win over FA Cup heroes Chorley, conquerers of Derby County last Saturday, in their first game of 2021 and a subsequent 2-0 away win at AFC Telford indicate that the home side are on the march! On Saturday afternoon Blyth’s ‘Green Army’ could well get obliterated if they continue to defend as poorly as they have on the road for the majority of this season. Good luck to you all.