League Two Tips: Sutton must build confidence

Sutton United have won two in a row at Gander Green Lane
Sutton United need to build on recent home wins

A couple of home wins can be built on at Gander Green Lane, says Ian Lamont, who also tips Leyton Orient, plus Exeter for victory at stubborn hosts Hartlepool...

"Devon reports suggested Exeter rode their luck a little last Saturday before beating Sutton 2-0. It's what good team do, isn't it? Sam Nombe will be even more appreciated if he can notch another winner."

Sutton must build on good home form

Sutton 2.47/5 v Carlisle 3.55/2; the draw 3.412/5

Sutton United might have lost at Exeter after securing two home wins which lifted them from the bottom two into mid-table, but they deserve another chance to find a win here.

That's in part because the Cumbrians have lost their last two away, at Hartlepool and Crawley. What's more, Chris Beech's men have conceded eight and scored seven in their past five games, in stark contrast to attaining clean sheets in two of their opening three games. They were both goalless draws. It seems, therefore, that whatever the visitors do it results in a tight game. They have won by one goal, lost by one, or drawn.

Jon Mellish has started scoring again, with two in three games, as has Brennan Dickenson. That's plenty of goals from the midfield then! Striker Tristan Abrahams had two early on in the season.

A home report will always feel a side was unlucky, but Sutton struck the woodwork three times down at Exeter. Omar Bugiel was missing, but David Ajiboye seems to have created plenty of chances.

Donovan Wilson must now turn his extended chance in the Football League into a golden one, while Enzio Boldewijn needs to find the net now. Matt Gray's men might not have won by much at Gander Green Lane against Hartlepool and Stevenage, but if they really feel they dominated for large parts of the game at Exeter - and elsewhere - they must turn that confidence into points before it ebbs away.

Back the confidence of the Orient

Leyton Orient 2.3211/8 v Mansfield Town 3.613/5; the draw 3.613/5

Mansfield boss Nigel Clough believes his side have lost four games (on the bounce) "undeservedly". He stated this after acknowledging that the Stags could have pinched a win at home to Rochdale which, he said, would have been equally unmerited. They drew after substitute Danny Johnson equalised.

Fine margins have been the difference this season, he complains. Rochdale were disappointed by a draw, Mansfield relieved by one. So do we believe Clough's confidence in his team or the results?

He traces the bad run back to conceding a late equaliser at Colchester, when it looked like Mansfield would take a third straight win to start the season.

Now, with having to consider playing striker Oli Hawkins at centre-back on past reputation in the position, he just wants a clean sheet to kick-start the season. Opta state that Mansfield are the only League Two side without one in this campaign.

Defender James Perchy is the latest player to hit the treatment table, leaving a threadbare squad to travel to in-form Leyton Orient. Andy Garner, the first team coach, believes Mansfield will be given, and will give, a hard game.

Kenny Jackett's side are cock-a-hoop after a first away win of the season, against struggling Bristol Rovers. More importantly they have notched three wins at home and, just as relevant, they have struck 11 goals in four games, while Mansfield have conceded in each game.

It seems surprising, then, to find the O's as large as 2.255/4 to win. Joe Gallen, the assistant manager, was full of praise for strikers Harry Smith, Theo Archibald and Aaron Drinan, who all scored last weekend. He revealed that Smith hadn't trained that much, either. Clearly, less is more, because the forward has six League Two goals already this season. Mansfield, even if they have stopped the rot with a draw, will do well to keep their hosts at bay.

Grecians can break Pools' resistance

Hartlepool 2.77/4 v Exeter 3.02/1; the draw 3.55/2

Just how much have Exeter improved, put Covid-related absentee difficulties behind them and found their feet for the season? Three clean sheets in a row suggest a strong platform on which to build. Furthermore, they are now six games unbeaten. Add to that they have netted four goals twice in that run and Matt Taylor's men are now looking confident.

Hartlepool will not be an easy team to defeat, especially at home. A first point on the road - after losing three away this season - was further evidence that Dave Challinor's side have resilience. Maybe Jordan Cook or Mike Fondop, signed on frees, can help them score this week, especially with Tyler Burey out for several weeks with a hamstring injury.

The Grecians have been the nearly men over so many seasons. Captain Matt Jay among others must be desperate to reach the top three this season. Last weekend, the management said they had every confidence that when Sam Nombe started to score, there would be no stopping him. Well, he has one now - and the front man has noted his delight in feeling appreciated.

Devon reports suggested Exeter rode their luck a little last Saturday before beating Sutton 2-0. It's what good team do, isn't it? Nombe will be even more appreciated if he can notch another winner. Exeter will really be helped in breaking down stubborn hosts if they can notch a fourth straight clean sheet. Keeper Cameron Dawson and a defence marshalled by experienced Grecians campaigner Pierce Sweeney in front of him will do their best.

Opta point out that Hartlepool have won four in a row at home, not winning five at home to start a season since 1956-57. Exeter, with one defeat in 14 games, could well burst that bubble.

Walsall can edge past sad Pirates

Walsall 2.68/5 v Bristol Rovers 3.185/40; the draw 3.412/5

Boss Matt Taylor hopes the hunger Emmanuel Osadebe has shown on his return to playing will continue. The playmaker provided an assist but Walsall still suffered defeat at Newport last time out. Take more shots, was his manager's advice.

Taylor took the opportunity to bring him in by shuffling his pack, allowing Osadebe in to replace Brendan Kiernan who had some personal issues.

In some senses, the Saddlers must be pleased to have seven different scorers in League Two this season. But that doesn't smack of regularity and reliability by any one person.
George Miller

is the only player with two. On the plus side, they have scored in six of eight games this season, but on the negative side mostly only once.

Both their wins have come at the Banks's Stadium, though. If they won three in a row at home, say Opta, it would be for the first time since August 2018. The stats men add that Bristol Rovers are winless in 19 away (drawing four) conceding at least once in their past 13 on the road.

Although Bristol Rovers (22nd in the table), are just three places behind Walsall, boss Joey Barton must be feeling pretty beleaguered. Especially when he sees headlines about the board needing to build bridges with supporters. The supporters club, through part ownership, has a place on the board. But relations are delicate.

There's only one way - generally - a club can improve its relationship with fans: by winning matches, something the Pirates have not looked like doing very often this season. They were 3-0 behind at home to Leyton Orient before Brett Pitman notched a late goal. Soul-destroying, was the phrase Barton used to describe the defeat. Leon Clarke or Sam Nicholson need to help him out by netting further goals this season. However, it seems the stats and even momentum are against them.

P/L 2021-22


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