League Two Tips: Back Orient to win away

Ross Embleton, the Leyton Orient manager
Ross Embleton will hope his Leyton Orient side can keep up their away scoring record

Ross Embleton's side could keep Stevenage pinned down, says Ian Lamont, who fancies the top two to win and Walsall to draw away...

"Mike Flynn isn’t getting carried away about a promotion push. We’ve been here before with the Exiles. Opta remind us that their 16 point haul so far from seven games is their joint best ever start to a season, in 2018-19, when they also rose to the top two."

Away goals consistency key for Embleton's men

Stevenage 2.56/4 v Leyton Orient 3.185/40; the draw 3.55/2

The jury still seems to be out on whether Stevenage's late reprieve to retain a Football League place would be a huge handicap to them this season. Many of their summer recruits were from non-league.

They haven't scored in four games. But is that masked by the fact they have played four teams tipped to do well? They have lost three of them, albeit only 1-0. The other was a goalless draw against Mansfield, who are countering the expectations of many by struggling near the foot of the table.

All three defeats came after first half goals for their opponents. Two in the first 10 minutes of games. Boss Alex Revell has noted more than once that poor first halves have cost them dear. He also says they need to do the "ugly" things better. But he does pick attacking sides and wants better quality into the box, where he expects four or five players to be. That has to leave Boro open.

Inih Effiong, who has long deserved a chance at this league, has only scored one league goal - a penalty on the opening day - and was dropped to the bench in midweek. Danny Newton hit the post even before Newport scored after eight minutes, which might sum up their luck as well as the open nature of the football.

While they will be looking on the match with Leyton as a chance to gain points against a team just a few places above them, the visitors will do likewise and seem in better shape.

Ross Embleton's side have scored in six of their seven games, winning at Tranmere on Tuesday. Danny Johnson netted his eighth goal in all competitions (fifth in League Two). Furthermore, Opta point out, they will be aiming to score in seven consecutive away league games for the first time since March 2016 (15 in total). That's a great platform.

There is strong competition for places, as proved by Conor Wilkinson being relegated to the substitutes' bench for Tuesday, after looking "leggy" at the end of Saturday's 3-2 defeat against Grimsby. Wilkinson wasn't happy to be left out of the team, perhaps especially after scoring early against the Mariners, but his manager was delighted with his subsequent performance.

Embleton seems a bit worried about the goals conceded - eight being as many as they have scored. But with Johnson in fine form and Jordan Maguire-Drew showing he hasn't forgotten how (he's scored 11 in 50 league appearances for Orient in 18 months), with one against Grimsby, they should be able to prise open their hosts.

Backers can Mull over striker's great form

Cambridge 2.1411/10 v Bolton 3.814/5; the draw 3.711/4

Achieve a point at Cambridge and only then will we talk about turning points. That was the assessment of one fan in reaction to Ian Evatt's comment that his Bolton team had turned a corner by snatching a late draw with his former club, Barrow.

They were 2-0 and 3-1 down before rescuing a point, in a performance in which Evatt said for the first time he saw the fight he wanted within the team. Previously, after defeat at Oldham, he questioned their character, saying either the players had to change or the manager should. Too many people were playing for the name of a big club thinking they had therefore made it, was the impression. Work harder was the message.

As West Ham showed against Tottenham, it is one thing to come back and take a point against a team so far ahead in a game they perhaps relax, thinking they have won. But can they take the initiative?

Still without ex-Crewe striker Shaun Miller, but with last year's League Two top scorer Eion Doyle now with two goals for the season, the pre-season favourites for the title must travel to the current leaders.

Cambridge's form could hardly be better. Three straight wins and a Paul Mullin hat-trick. The striker has 10 League Two goals this season (11 in all competitions), after his hat-trick to destroy Port Vale on Tuesday. It is still a mystery why Tranmere let him go last season, but someone so prolific is exactly what United have been lacking in the past few years. Luke Hannant and Harrison Dunk, among others, must be loving playing alongside him.

Mark Bonner's hosts even stayed top of the league with another win, after reaching the summit on Saturday. The lead usually changes hands each week after just a handful of games. The manager has clearly found a system to suit Mullin.

Bolton have a record of one win in seven, while Cambridge's record of four games scoring three or more. Only Chelsea can match that in the top four tiers this season, Opta reveal.

Exiles on a roll

Bradford 2.77/4 v Newport 2.89/5; the draw 3.613/5

If Bradford make a fast start as they did in the win against Mansfield a week ago, they can make life hard for Newport. However, it seems unlikely as they are now facing the team second from top rather than third from bottom.

Stuart McCall's side netted twice in 15 minutes last Saturday, against a side conceding twice in a game for a fourth time this season. The Exiles have conceded twice just the once, at Cambridge (and once multiple times), but through their own fast starts have bagged their two most recent wins with clean sheets, each 1-0.

Billy Clarke, in his third spell, is still scoring for the Bantams, while Lee Novak is more feared and Clayton Donaldson, prolific over the years, cannot be underestimated.

But the visitors will be sure to have noted Bradford's Achilles heel of defending set pieces. In Padraig Amond among others, Newport have just the players to take advantage. Tristan Abrahams, whose penalty beat Stevenage, is highly rated by his manager.

Amond and Robbie Willmott, two from those glorious escapades, have already been used sparingly (more as substitutes than starters in the league) as the games come thick and fast. That has allowed Scott Twine to find his feet, while three deadline-day loan signings have yet to feature.

Likewise veteran winger Kevin Ellison, signed in the summer after his release from Morecambe. Flynn clearly trusts in a newer side - and has been rewarded - but must surely use his experienced players to forge victory in games like this one. Bradford, like Crawley, have a strong home record. They have lost just once in 14 home games say Opta, but won only one of four at Valley Parade this season.

Mike Flynn isn't getting carried away about a promotion push (one which seems overdue after so many cup adventures) for second placed Newport. And if it seems like we've been here before with the Exiles, they were in the very top bracket of League Two early two seasons ago. Opta remind us that their 16 point haul so far from seven games is their joint best ever start to a season, in 2018-19.

Crucial statistics point to Barrow draw

Barrow 2.89/5 v Walsall 2.89/5; the draw 3.55/2

A team seeking their first win of the season face League Two's last unbeaten team. What could possibly happen?

Barrow counted themselves seriously unfortunate not to beat Bolton on Tuesday, having led 2-0 and 3-1 before conceding the equaliser late in time added on. Their pattern this season is DLDLDLD, so would it be a surprise if the visitors took the three points? Opta state that Walsall have drawn five of their seven.

Home boss David Dunn will return post-Covid. But striker Courtney Baker-Richardson had hip surgery this week, Lewis Hardcastle is a doubt, as is last season's top scorer Scott Quigley.

Walsall's two wins have both come at home. Darryl Clarke might have been frustrated by the draw at Bradford, but that's where they are at present on their route to the promotion candidates he wants them to be. George Nurse, 21, has made left back his own after a pre-season injury while new loan signing Jake Scrimshaw will be eager to make his mark, after coming off the bench in midweek. Elijah Adebayo is a striker who will need watching.

As the Saddlers have drawn all three of their away games, it seems time for Barrow to buck that results pattern and, having drawn all four of their league games, take another point.

P/L 2020-21


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