GW 36 – Ones to Watch
Matt: This coming weekend we have our latest (and final) ‘International Week’ of the season, so you’ll be well aware what that entails by now I’m sure! Those ‘lovable rogues’ from the National North & South Leagues are back in play and inevitably going to cause copious amounts of both joy and misery, it happens every time! Speaking of which, it looks as though plenty of you had lots of the former and left me and a minority of less fortunate players to endure the latter last weekend! The extremes of this game fully evident once more there! Let’s take a glance at a couple of options for you in GW 36…..
- Exeter City v Stevenage. Starting off in League Two with clubs who could well be heading in completely opposite directions come May! Whilst Exeter are currently occupying one of the three automatic promotion places, Stevenage are hovering perilously close to the dreaded drop zone, facing up to the possibility of returning to the National League for the first time since the 2009/10 season. Winless since way back in January, Boro are getting increasingly desperate to pick up vital points needed to keep them in the Football League, but a combination of injuries and Covid absentees, which caused their fixture at Mansfield Town to be called off a few days ago, means that they head to Devon somewhat short on numbers. And with Exeter quite a force on home turf – The Grecians are unbeaten at St James Park in the league in 2022 – an already tricky task just got that little bit more difficult. Recent highscoring victories over Swindon Town (3-1) and Harrogate Town (4-3) are tempered by a 0-0 draw against Salford City, but a 2-1 win against Crawley Town in their most recent home game quickly got them back into their usual scoring routine. With Stevenage managing just a solitary clean sheet on their travels this calendar year, it’s a tough assignment for the struggling Hertfordshire side. Quick word of warning; following the aforementioned postponement at Mansfield, this will actually be new manager Steve Evans’ first game in charge of Stevenage – I know this sort of thing can have an impace on people’s thinking in this game!
- Gateshead v Bradford Park Avenue. It will come as no surprise to those of you who read this section on a regular basis to find me delving into the lower leagues whenever and wherever possible, and this weekend will be no exception. There’s plenty of tempting options in both the NLN and the NLS, none more so than North leaders Gateshead, who have reached the summit of the table courtesy of an unbeaten run stretching back to early February, that defeat being their only loss in 15! A 4-0 midweek demolition of Curzon Ashton was the latest in a long line of impressive results for Mike Williamson’s men, indeed The Heed have scored 4 goals in three of their last four games, so a home fixture against a rather lowly and inconsistent Bradford PA side shouldn’t really set too many alarm bells ringing. BPA did register a 3-1 away win at Blyth Spartans in midweek, but those are more of an exception than the norm; The Green Army have won just three times on the road all season. With a ‘h2h’ of 77 goals scored against 56 conceded in the NLN this campaign, not to mention the past two results between the sides that has seen Gateshead win 4-2 and 6-2, I’m hoping there will be no shortage of goalmouth action in this match. Good luck to you all.