GW 29 – Ones to Watch

Matt: This has been a tough six weeks or so to commence 2021, with the vast majority of TUG players really struggling to piece any kind of decent totals together and lots of you in poor form – as evidenced by the absurd amount of minus scores we’re seeing! It’s not much better in this section, where Ally and myself have both suffered a bit of a wobble over recent weeks! I’ll try to right a few wrongs here!

Unfortunately we’ve received word this evening that the National Leagues North & South have declared their seasons ‘null and void’, meaning they’ll cease with immediate effect. With the Scottish Leagues One & Two now halted until at least early March, we are a tad light on fixtures…..but as ever we’ll soldier on! For GW 29, I’m beginning by venturing into League One and a trip to the North-West, where a seemingly confidence-sapped Wigan Athletic face league leaders Lincoln City. The Latics suffered a humiliating 5-0 home defeat to Hull City on Tuesday evening, the very same opposition they annilhated 8-0 in a Championship fixture as recently as July 2020!! Clearly Hull had payback in mind and they didn’t disappoint! Incredibly, that is Wigan’s second 5-0 home loss in the space of three weeks, as Blackpool also won there by that scoreline at the back-end of January! It also means The Latics have suffered five defeats in their previous six games, with a total of 22 goals conceded already this calendar year! Their chances of survival are still decent though; despite sitting second from bottom and in poor form, they’re only one point from safety! However, on Saturday they face a Lincoln side who have very different ambitions this season, namely to be promoted to The Championship for the first time in their history! The Imps have previous for promotion too, with two in three years, as they look to continue their meteoric rise from The National League. Despite being knocked out of the EFL Trophy on penalties in midweek, denying them a trip to Wembley, City have been in very good form overall, with just a solitary defeat in the twelve matches before that. Goals aren’t generally a problem, as proven by recent returns of 3, 4, 4 and 5 against Gillingham, Accrington Stanley, Northampton town and  Burton Albion respectively. With Hull City and Peterborough United breathing right down their neck, Lincoln know that three points at the DW Stadium are a must if they are to retain their position at the top of the league. I firmly expect them to go on the offensive and look to capitalise on Wigan’s recent defensive woes.

By my own admission, my second tip could easily be construed as a rather bizarre move, being as the team I’m backing failed to score when i last chose them in this section – that being as recently as the midweek round just 10 days or so ago! I’m all about second chances though, so here goes! Tranmere Rovers face Oldham Athletic at Prenton Park on Saturday afternoon and this has the potential to be a goalfest, something we love here at TUG of course!! Casting aside their recent blip against Stevenage (which Rovers quickly put behind them with a superb 2-0 win at League One Oxford Utd in the EFL Trophy Semi-Finals in midweek), the Merseyside outfit have been in excellent form, with six wins from seven in all competitions. Currently sitting in sixth place in the standings, with a couple of games in hand on leaders Cambridge Utd, Rovers can really apply some pressure on the teams above them by beating an Oldham team who love a goal or two themselves……….the problem has been keeping them out at the other end!! The Latics have conceded a shuddering 50 goals in the league this season, not to mention a thrashing in the FA Cup recently too, comfortably the most in that division. There is almost zero chance of them getting dragged into a relegation scrap, which should in turn allow the visitors to continue to play with the freedom that has seen them involved in some terrific end-to-end affairs recently – look no further than Tuesday night’s highly entertaining 4-3 loss at Forest Green Rovers! Mansfield Town, Walsall and Newport County (twice) have also been engaged in some engrossing battles with The Latics over the past few weeks, so this fixture has all the makings of another high-scoring affair. Good luck to you all!