Ian Lamont says a tired and distracted AFC Wimbledon will be no match for Southend when the confident visitors stride into Kingsmeadow and gives us the lowdown on his other League Two fancies...
'Dons boss Neil Ardley will be a worried man, especially with his side's FA Cup run, where they will face their nemesis MK Dons, taking a physical and emotional toll'
Home spectators at Kingsmeadow on Saturday felt AFC Wimbledon could really be in for a pounding when Southend visit. On the form of the Shrimpers it is hard to disagree. While the Wombles were failing to pick off bottom club Aldershot at home, Southend were enjoying an emphatic 4-1 at Torquay. Britt Assombalonga banged in another couple of goals, his first in a month but numbers nine and 10 since his loan move from Watford. He is surely back in form for Paul Sturrock's side and has Gavin Tomlin, who also netted twice, in a decent touch alongside him, returning three in three games. Southend might have had a couple of 0-0 draws in their last five in all competitions, but when they score they know how to do it in style, posting three, three and four in the three other games.
Neil Ardley will be a worried man, especially with the Dons' FA Cup run (they will face their nemesis MK Dons, having seen off York in extra time) taking a physical and distractingly emotional toll on the squad and the club as a whole. Charlie Strutton continues to stake his claim for a continued starting berth up front, but centre-backs Will Antwi and Yado Mambo have their work cut out in this one.
Will three games in six days start to take its toll on Burton? The price on a home win is certainly short enough. It would normally be justified considering their opposition are second bottom. While Aldershot like to spin they were unbeaten in four before defeat to Bradford 10 days ago, their trouble has been scoring goals. They seem to have found a nippy, muscle-bound little striker in Spaniard Dani Lopez, on loan from Stevenage.
While left-back Anthony Tonkin remains a promising attribute coming forward, right winger Kieron Cadogan needs to see more of the ball and Danny Hylton needs to rekindle that scoring touch. Lopez at least scored early in his Shots career, which bodes well for Dean Holdsworth's men. But if they could not overcome tired Wimbledon, tired Burton, with one of the best home records in the division, will be no easier. They have a variety of scorers in a recent record where goals have not always come easily. They just might be worth laying.
Only once in the past six away games have Exeter scored more than once, netting five in total in that spell. Paul Tisdale hailed a first away win for a month, at Bradford, as "terrific, just what we needed" and a valuable gritty display. They would need all that to have a chance of even a draw at Gillingham, especially considering several free injury knocks. Jamie Cureton and Alan Gow will be full of confidence trying to prize open Martin Allen's defence, but it is the other end where the difficulties have come for the Grecians, Saturday's win featuring only a third clean sheet of the season. The Gills have been much more consistent and will be keen to recapture top gear to add to a 2-1 win over Morecambe, which followed two draws. This is likely to be a repeat of Gillingham's contest two Tuesdays ago, that is a tight, low-scoring affair.
Rovers' home win over Chesterfield 10 days ago was a rare blip in a six-game losing run. Worse than that, they concede two goals a game on average - making over 2.5 goals very likely - so Mark McGhee's side will not relish visiting one of the best sides in the division. The Valiants might have one defeat in 10 games. However, they have drawn their last three games, two at home. Micky Adams' side will see this as a chance to do better as they try to maintain their automatic promotion spot. Adams reckons some of his players need "a little loving" at present. An arm round the shoulder rather than the rants of some is quite possibly the best way to motivate troops.