GW 5 – Ones to Watch
Jamie: The season is well underway and the first month has flown by. This weekend sees the first of the international weeks – meaning the top leagues are taking a break. This brings positives and negatives, because most of the higher profile teams will be out of action, but in turn we open the doors to the National League North and South, where there’s usually quite a few goals to be found.
For my first pick of GW 5, I’m heading straight in that direction, where Hampton & Richmond take on struggling Weston-super-Mare in the NLS. The London Borough side from Richmond upon Thames have netted a steady stream of goals so far this season, whereas their visitors have seen a steady stream of goals fly into their own net! WsM currently find themselves sitting at the bottom of the table and Hampton definitely have the potential for the big scoreline I’m hoping for.
For my second pick, I’m hitting the Scottish Challange Cup in the shape of the slightly risky selection of Coleraine. The Northern Irish semi-professional team have been flying high at the top of the NIFL Premiership table of late, producing some good results along the way. However, the ship could have been rocked in the Coleraine camp due to the potentially imminent departure of their manager Oran Kearney, who has just been offered a fantastic job opportunity managing Scottish Premiership club St Mirren. That said, I’m looking at the Northern Irish outfit to keep their current scoring form and progress past Formartine Utd into the Fourth Round of the competition, while netting a good few goals as they do so.
Matt: Just five weeks in and it’s time for our first ‘international week’ of the season. This of course brings with it the almost irrepressible opportunity to delve into the delights of the National League North & South divisions, not to mention the added bonus of having the Third Round of the Scottish Challenge Cup also available for selection. This could be a gameweek that spells complete carnage!
As a bit of a risk taker in this game, i do enjoy these weekends and the chance to pick some ‘randoms’. I don’t generally do particularly well, but i do enjoy them! 🙂 In terms of teams to watch, i’m sticking with one of our regular leagues to begin with by heading straight to the Vanarama National League for the match between Harrogate Town and Havant & Waterlooville. This is a fixture that pitches a team who have scored at least twice in every home game this season (not to mention a 7-2 mauling of League One Bradford City in pre season!), against a side who have conceded at least three times in every away game – even in their only victory on the road H&W managed to concede 3 goals in the process! After being promoted a few months ago, Town have taken to their new surroundings like a duck to water and they currently sit joint top of the table alongside Leyton Orient. They’ll be fully expecting to retain that position by beating Havant and i’m backing them to score a few goals in the process.
Now you could literally pick a bunch of National League N/S teams out of a hat and the chances are you’d score pretty well, these games are rarely dull and 0-0s are almost unheard of (cue a 0-0 coming up in the match i’m suggesting taking a look at!) There’s almost too much choice actually, but i’m going to take a punt on the fixture involving Kidderminster Harriers against Blyth Spartans at Aggborough. It’s well over 10 years since Kiddy were plying their trade at football league level and since then they have slipped down another tier, but they are a formidable opponent in the National League North, backed by strong and vocal support. Their home record always tends to be very decent and with Blyth rather fragile on the road (no win or clean sheet since February!), i think it could be a tough afternoon for the Green Army. Harriers do need to win too, as leaders Chorley are threatening to run away with the championship even at this early stage! Good luck to you all, i’m predicting a very interesting weekend indeed!
Ally: First up this week is a trip to Sincil Bank, where League Two’s early pacesetters Lincoln City face a home game against Crawley Town. The Imps already find themselves with a three point cushion at the top of the table after just 6 games, while visitors Crawley have had an indifferent start, currently occupying 16th place. The hosts have won all three of their home league matches so far, scoring 9 times in the process, while Crawley have won one and lost two of their away games. I’m backing Lincoln to keep up their winning start to the season here.
This ‘International’ weekend has brought the Scottish Challenge Cup into play, which features an intriguing set of fixtures with teams from five of Scotland’s leagues, plus Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and, for the first time ever, England! With very little to go on in the way of head to head records, it offers some unique opportunities to test your powers of prediction! One fixture that has caught my eye is the tie between current Welsh Premier league leaders The New Saints and Scottish League Two outfit Queen’s Park.
The Welsh side have only played two home league games so far, but have simply blown away the opposition in each case, firstly thrashing the mighty Barry 5-1, and following that up with a 6-0 victory over giants Carmarthen. Queen’s Park meanwhile have had a steady start and have recorded two wins, two draws and a defeat in their previous 5 games. With no way to determine the relative merits of each side, I’m taking a punt on home advantage being key and backing TNS to get among the goals.