League Two Midweek Tips: Pirates show resilience

Nigel Clough, manager of Mansfield Town
Nigel Clough will be hoping lady luck gives his Mansfield side a break on Tuesday

Bristol Rovers deserve support for a draw at Colchester, says Ian Lamont, who likes Sutton and home and risks an overdue Mansfield win...

"Two wins at the start of the season seem an age ago, but the attacking line is as strong as ever, as long as Mansfield can get them the ball. Oli Hawkins, Danny Johnson and Jordan Bowery have bags of goals in them."

Barton's boys picking up points

Colchester 2.68/5 v Bristol Rovers 3.211/5; the draw 3.55/2

Despite a lengthy injury list, Bristol Rovers seem determined to improve results and, on Saturday, battled from behind twice to earn a draw at Bradford, who themselves are hovering below the expectations of many.

Brett Pitman, formerly of Bournemouth and Portsmouth, has plenty of experience to draw on up front and netted the second equaliser. The main attacking threat, however, was Antony Evans who produced the crosses for both goals.

Local reviewers also said keeper James Belshaw was to thank for sparing the Pirates' blushes with a fine performance in the first half. Very few of the others received good marks out of 10.

Colchester finally registered a goal - and a victory - on Saturday against in-form Harrogate, to reverse a downward decline - for now. Sylvester Jasper's strike buys boss Hayden Mullins a bit of breathing space, but won't stop the boo boys.

After four games without scoring before the weekend, the crowd will be expecting Freddie Sears to add to those three strikes earlier this season. They want the U's moving up the table fast.

After their first win at home this season, Mullins is looking for his side to stamp their authority at the JobServe Stadium. But I think Rovers will have other ideas and find a way to take a point.

Opta point out Colchester have just two goals from five home games this season, while Joey Barton's visitors have taken four points from their past two away - as many as their past 19 games on the road.

Sutton deserve to be backed at home

Sutton 2.47/5 v Swindon 3.613/5; the draw 3.55/2
Sutton are the form team of League Two for the second game running: a fact that didn't stop at Crawley. In the meantime they upset John Yems through apparently having few shots on target, getting away with a penalty shout after a minute and playing in a style he didn't like.

Whatever their methods, Matt Gray's men have to make the most of their assets to prosper in their first League Two season in their 125-year history. Leaving it late to win, through an Isaac Olaofi, is one way of winning games. Defeating the likes of Port Vale the week before by coming from behind twice, to win 4-3, is another.

That means captain Harry Beautyman and his attack-minded side including Richie Bennett and Donovan Wilson have no fear when it comes to fellow in-form side.

Swindon showed equal resilience when rescuing a point at home to Rochdale. Jonathan Williams has played his way into the side with that late goal to take the point.

They have done well on the road, with four wins and two draws. Often, however, they have netted only once and if Sutton, who have won each of their last four at home Opta remind us, scoring 11, can hold them to that they have a chance to beat them.

Time for Clough to catch a break

Mansfield 3.02/1 v Port Vale 2.68/5; the draw 3.412/5

For me, Mansfield defeating Port Vale would be the biggest shock of Tuesday's fixtures - so, being midweek, that's where I'll make an argument.

Defeat at Northampton, again without scoring, can't continue. The not scoring, I mean. Simply on the law of averages five games without a goal must be some sort of unwanted record that is just waiting to burst.

At least Tyrese Sinclair and Stephen Quinn will return from a list of 10 players who were unavailable for the trip to Northampton. Farrend Rawson returned at the weekend, too. Anything achieved against the Cobblers would have been a bonus, boss Nigel Clough said in advance.

Two wins at the start of the season seem an age ago, but the attacking line is as strong as ever, as long as Mansfield can get them the ball. Oli Hawkins, Danny Johnson and Jordan Bowery have bags of goals in them. Defence and midfield are where injuries have hit the Stags hard, Clough points out. It was a surprise that Clough reverted to playing Hawkins up front when he has so many problems elsewhere - and he blamed himself for picking the wrong team and wrong formation at Northampton. Hopefully he can get it right this time.

The Valiants have bags of confidence, of course, and the hosts - plus us gamblers - must hope that is their undoing. Even Dennis Politic, 21, on loan from Bolton, can come on and score twice in three games. Mansfield have no such luck! Jamie Proctor has six goals and will also be full of confidence. Midweek games have a habit of reversing form, however, and Clough needs a break.

Hats off to Wayne for keeping Exiles in shape

Newport 2.26/5 v Carlisle 3.711/4; the draw 3.613/5

Wayne Hatswell, Newport's temporary manager, says he wants to hand over a squad primed and ready for the next boss. Preferably, I would think, still on a winning run. Or an unbeaten one. Victory over Scunthorpe in his first match was followed by draws against Bradford and Exeter, two sides who would hope to be battling for promotion come May. As the Exiles' board would like to see for the south Wales side.

A new manager could even be appointed this week, meaning Newport's squad could play with added intensity that comes with an imminent appointment, even with a new leader looking on.

That, and Carlisle's malaise, makes them the best of the shorter prices to win. Robbie Willmott and Courtney Baker-Richards twice gave the visitors the lead at Exeter, after which Hatswell said it would only be a good point if the team returned a victory in midweek.
Gavin Skelton,

temporarily in charge of Carlisle, couldn't turn things around for the Cumbrians. He cited small margins as the difference between gaining something against Tranmere and not.

Jon Mellish was denied from their best chance, but at least the Cumbrians' keeper Mark Howard proved he could save a penalty and gave his team confidence, something which remains in short supply with the visitors.

Opta state gleefully that Newport have lost just once in eight at home, while Carlisle have lost their last four away.

P/L 2021-22


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