League Two Tips: Reds and U's to share goal spree

Robbie Stockdale, the Rochdale manager
Robbie Stockdale and Rochdale could be Swindon's latest victims

The Broadfield could witness a lively afternoon, says Ian Lamont, who also tips Swindon and Harrogate to keep piling the pressure on their opponents...

"Tranmere, say Opta, have more clean sheets (seven) than any other side in English football so far this season. Kudos to defenders Tom Davies, Josh Dacres-Cogley and Peter Clarke."

Expect goals at the Crawley carousel

Crawley 3.211/5 v Sutton United 2.56/4; the draw 3.412/5

Now let's not get carried away that my outsiders for a play-off spot at the start of the season are climbing as hard as they can towards the top seven. At one point during Saturday's fixtures, that's where they sat until Hartlepool scored their winner and before this week's opponents, Sutton United, beat them to it.

Amazingly, Matt Gray's men came from 2-0 and 3-2 down to win late against Port Vale, whose boss Darrell Clarke was manager of the month (always a curse!) for September.

Progress in Sussex has been slower than boss John Yems would have liked. Frustrated after one win - and a 6-3 drubbing at Forest Green - in their first five games, the Reds have since turned in four wins and two clean sheets in their past five.

A couple of fantastic strikes by Nick Tsaroulla have helped. The left back says he doesn't want to be defined by his fine, twisting, turning strike in the 3-0 FA Cup win over Leeds United back in January.

He has taken time to get into the team but has had an extended run this season.

For his September performances he won a couple of national awards, one voted for by League Two fans across the board.

Going into lockdown 2020, Crawley had a fine unbeaten run at home and are five unbeaten at the Broadfield this season, where, strangely, in-form striker Kwesi Appiah has yet to net. Jake Hessenthaler and Ashley Nadesan have beaten him to it this season.

Those two factors combined with Sutton's penchant for scoring plenty in recent weeks indicates there could be goals in this one. The visitors have three clean sheets in five matches themselves, but I think with three former Crawley Town players - Rob Milsom, Louis John and Enzo Boldewijn, all three playing substantial parts this season - in their squad they will be very keen to attack, while will open up the game.

Gray feels his side have been unlucky on the road, points and goals wise, this season. Opta say Crawley haven't gone unbeaten in their first six home games of a season since joining the EFL in 2011. They add that Sutton are on the longest winning streak in League Two (three games). Over 2.5 goals seems short enough at 2.111/10. Over 3.5 goals is the best at 4.03/1.

Swindon have fight for places

Swindon 2.35/4 v Rochdale 3.9 ; the draw 3.39/4

Even when beating League Two leaders Forest Green on their own turf and facing a side which hasn't won - or even scored - in three games, Swindon are 2.56/4 to win.

Perhaps a couple of Opta facts have swayed the layers: Swindon have not won three games in a row since March 2020 and only five of their 19 points this season have come at home. But on the plus side they should have five players back from international duty.

The trouble is, as they have been winning without, that gives Ben Garner a real headache of who to pick.

Kaine Kesler-Hayden, Alex Gilbert, and Jonny Williams should be cleared in time to play, while two others face quarantine queries coming from red list countries.

Young, hungry "beasts" in training such as Mo Dabre, Harry Parsons, and Ricky Aguiar are also knocking on the door of selection, Garner says.

Harry McKirdy has sparkled in the past two games, scoring in each, while Tyreece Simpson now has four goals after netting the second last weekend.

Rochdale, one of so many clubs with a background of ownership wrangling, have lost their last three - as many as in their previous 15 combined, say Opta. Robbie Stockdale's side have lost five in a row in all competitions, four without scoring. It seems an age since Danny Cashman, on loan from Coventry, scored in successive games back in September as they picked up a win and a draw. Eoghan O'Connell and Corey O'Keefe, mainstays at the back, have proven themselves capable of a couple of clean sheets, but Swindon should be able to find a way through.

Clean sheets give Tranmere sure footing

Carlisle 2.89/5 v Tranmere 2.915/8; the draw 3.412/5

Carlisle might have only lost once at home, but that was to free-flowing league leaders Forest Green, as predicted a couple of weeks ago. Tranmere are similarly in-form, while the Cumbrians have parted company with boss Chris Beech this week. Being third from bottom isn't in the board's plan.

Tranmere, say Opta, have more clean sheets (seven) than any other side in English football so far this season. Kudos to defenders Tom Davies, Josh Dacres-Cogley and Peter Clarke, who also happens to be top scorer with three goals. The visitors have also won their last four league games against Carlisle.

While the Whites have started scoring now - two in each of the past three games - they have not actually won away yet. As Carlisle regroup, now seems as good a chance as any. The hosts have not kept a clean sheet in eight and haven't scored in three games. Jon Mellish and Brennan Dickenson will seek to change that, but Tristan Abrahams should be their main threat and like the other two only has two goals.

Both are lightweight on goals so far, but the visitors seem to be improving faster.

Visitors offer much to trouble Mullins

Colchester 3.412/5 v Harrogate 2.47/5; the draw 3.412/5

Colchester boss Hayden Mullins believes he has a good squad of players; that goals will come; that performance are improving, after being level at Tranmere last Friday then "unlucky" to concede. He implores his side to turn the JobServe Stadium into a fortress, rather than be better away from (the game on Merseyside was their first away defeat).

But as fans on one forum are keen to point out: the stats don't lie and there seems to be only one way from here - down. Mid-table isn't good enough. The want the top end of the division.

They are frustrated and Mullins - and the board - who they say have their heads in the sand if they don't think the U's are in trouble.

The Essex side can't fall much lower. They are 20th. They haven't won at home yet - they only have one point at home - and they haven't scored in four League Two matches. In fact they haven't scored in six of their 10 matches, Freddie Sears scoring in three of the four in which they have netted.

Could they hold Harrogate after the Sulphurites bashed six past Scunthorpe last weekend. Could they take the gas off? Consciously or not? Sometimes the next performance is a bit flat. But Simon Weaver won't allow Jack Muldoon - who netted a hat-trick - or Alex Pattison, who struck twice, to perform below standards. Imagine how seven-goal top scorer Luke Armstrong will feel about not getting on the scoresheet that day? The banter in the changing room would have hurt. Expect him to be involved in the goals in another victory.

P/L 2021-22


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