Saturday League Two Tips: Back Sutton to score goals

Sutton United play at Gander Green Lane
Sutton United could be waving the flag for goals on Saturday

Matt Gray's men average 2-1 at home, says Ian Lamont, who think Swindon can win but predicts draws at Colchester and Bradford...

"Bradford home wins have not been a given in the past couple of months, however. They let Hartlepool break their away duck 10 days ago, and drew two of the previous three, to lowly Bristol Rovers and midtable Barrow."

Goals could flow at Gander Green Lane

Sutton 2.111/10 v Walsall 3.814/5; the draw 3.613/5

Both teams have banana skin FA Cup ties at non-league teams next weekend, so perhaps this match can be a rehearsal for the hyper concentration needed to progress.

Matt Gray must be delighted with how his Sutton United side have coped with League Two rising to a lofty sixth after mauling hapless Colchester 3-1 on Tuesday. After the opening four games without a victory in their first EFL season, a fine home record has reaped four wins. Fortress Gander Green Lane!

The squad has some EFL experience, among them strikers Richie Bennett and Enzio Boldewijn. But there are plenty of cases where this is a first real taste of the top four divisions. Take David Ajiboye, once of Brighton youth. He has three goals this season.

Sutton have scored in seven straight matches, winning five. At home, they average just over 2-1 in goals.

Walsall are similarly attack friendly: they have scored in their past nine of 10 games, but only managed two clean sheets. But they only have one win away, although three draws suggests a solid platform. George Miller seems on fire, with seven games in nine starts. That includes three in two games with one of them in their last away game, a victory at Oldham.

Sutton will not be as pliable as a team in the bottom four, but there could be goals. I'll be backing over 2.5 goals @ 2.26/5 which is marginally better priced than the home win at 2.111/10.

Garner's side travel well

Oldham 3.412/5 v Swindon 2.3411/8; the draw 3.613/5

Swindon's away form is second to only leaders Forest Green Rovers, on goal difference. The Robins' home form is keeping them down to seventh in League Two.

Ben Garner's men even beat Rovers on their own turf a few weeks ago - then high-flying Sutton United who have been pretty strong at home. So there's much to like about their price for another win on their travels as they pursue a top three slot. Opta point out they are unbeaten in eight away games (six wins) and that their previous best was back in 1986 (13).

Defeat at home to Bradford can therefore be forgiven, especially if Tyreece Simpson, Ben Gladwin or Jack Payne - the key scorers so far - can be fed sufficient chances.

Garner says he won't change his philosophy about the still of play, after the humbling loss to the Bantams. He won't tolerate another defensive performance like the one that left them 2-0 down at half-time though.

What obstacles could Oldham put in their way? Five clean sheets in seven games is something. Seemingly a good platform on which to build. Wins against Rochdale and Stevenage are the high points. Defeats to Walsall and high-flying Harrogate the low ones.

A lack of quality in creating chances - not even converting them - was the main problem that Keith Curle remarked upon after the goalless draw at Carlisle. Jamie Bowden, Dylan Bahamboula and David Keillor-Dunn were among those who had chances to score.

The hosts have only scored five at home though, being breached 11 times. Swindon's away form and attacking style suggests they can notch up another win.

Bantams can hold runaway Rovers

Bradford 2.915/8 v Forest Green 2.89/5; the draw 3.613/5

Forest Green have conquered almost all before them away from home, winning five and dropping points by drawing only at Exeter and Leyton Orient, who have both proven draw specialists this season with eight each. Rovers' away record is the best in the division, with 14 goals scored and only three conceding enhancing that status.

Rob Edwards, pretty inexperienced as a first team manager, has done a fantastic job in raising the squad from play-off competitors to League Two leaders. Matt Stevens and Jamille Matt have helped with a string of goals each. The odd setback at home to Swindon and Port Vale have proved interludes to a wonderful storm to the top.

Six clean sheets, including five in a row through September into October, prove they are solid at the back. There is much to admire. How will they fare at Valley Parade?

Bradford need to start justifying Derek Adams' switch from a League One club last season, having taken Morecambe up. Progress still seems intermittent. They won against the odds at Swindon last Saturday, Coalan Lavery and Levi Sutton giving them a 2-0 half-time lead.

Bradford home wins have not been a given in the past couple of months, however. They let Hartlepool break their away duck 10 days ago, and drew two of the previous three, to lowly Bristol Rovers and midtable Barrow.

Fans hope beating Swindon can kick-start their season, while Theo Robinson said his strike, a curler from the edge of the box, was the best of his career. That was the striker's first goal for his new club after a switch from Colchester, where he last scored two games in a row in February 2020, say Opta.

Gaining another victory, against the leaders, will be tricky as they strive for consistent results. Even with tails up, Rovers will be a tough act to beat. A draw could ensue.

Two unhappy sides might be hard to separate

Colchester 2.111/10 v Scunthorpe 4.67/2; the draw 3.613/5

With draws in the division running at 32%, it seems only right to hunt a second of the week and this seems a prime candidate. Scunthorpe might have won their last match - only a second win of the season - but winning two in a row seems to pre-date whenever Opta started tracking statistics. Or so it might seem to glum supporters. In fact, it was January to February this year, when they won four in a row.

Opta offer that Colchester have won once in 16 against the Iron, drawing nine, while the visitors are unbeaten in seven league away games at the U's, drawing four. Other data suggests that Freddie Sears - Hayden Mullins' top scorer with four this season - has scored in his last two games against Scunthorpe for the U's, in 2013 and 2014! That was in a previous tilt with the Essex club. (For the record, he has also played nine league games for Scunthorpe in the past, without scoring.)

Perhaps most telling is the statistic that Neil Cox's men have won none of their last 15 away games.

So where does all that leave us? Colchester have failed to score in seven League Two fixtures this season, and have conceded seven goals in the past three matches. They have at least scored in their last three home matches, one at a time, Noah Chilvers and Sylvester Jasper contributing alongside Sears. They have won once at home, scoring four and conceding nine.

Scunthorpe, who have failed to score in six matches, are bottom of the division, but have drawn four times away. Jake Scrimshaw is top scorer with two. His latest strike, at home to Crawley, ended a 10-game winless run.

Keeper Rory Watson has still earned a fair amount of praise for the saves he has made, despite the team's ability to concede goals. If he can keep the worst traffic at bay, the Iron have a chance of a point.

The game is being labelled a crunch match in home quarters, where chairman Robbie Cowling is having to defend a summer policy of "putting more money into a smaller squad," to accommodate experience. Neither team are in a happy place. A point apiece might go some way to lifting spirits.

P/L 2021-22


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