“Plymouth Argyle are flying at the moment and I fancy Ryan Lowe’s troops to record all three points in East Lancashire, where Accrington Stanley are reeling from a 5-1 FA Cup drubbing at Port Vale.”Gabriel Sutton
Accrington Stanley v Plymouth Argyle
Argyle to win -1 handicap
Argyle were not expecting to challenge for promotion from League One.
After a streaky 2020-21 campaign that ultimately finished in 18th, steady progress and perhaps a top half finish was the target, but Ryan Lowe’s men are surpassing all expectations and currently find themselves in second spot.
Unlike last season’s outfit, which at times looked rather pedestrian and one-paced, the Devoners have different tools in their armoury.
James Wilson, Dan Scarr and Brendan Galloway have forged a formidable defensive unit, as well as a threat from set pieces, while Panutche Camara and Ryan Broom bring athleticism in midfield.
Between Camara and Broom is all-rounded Adam Randell who, having enjoyed an excellent campaign out on loan at Torquay in the National League last term, found himself behind the in-form Jordan Houghton in the first few months.
When Houghton got injured, though, Randell has grabbed his opportunity and ran the show, while relentless runner Ryan Hardie has been bang in form up top too in a 3-1-4-2 setup.
With James Bolton, Niall Ennis and George Cooper still to return, Lowe will have options, too, and the immediate future looks bright.
Hosts Accrington Stanley, meanwhile, not only crashed out of the FA Cup last weekend with a 5-1 loss at Port Vale, but they were also rather fortunate to pick up draws in their previous two games against Portsmouth and Gillingham.
— Plymouth Argyle FC (@Only1Argyle) November 7, 2021
“Elliot Lee has got a lot of shots away in Johnnie Jackson’s impressive three games so far as caretaker manager, so I feel the attacking midfielder is due a goal.”Gabriel Sutton
Burton Albion v Charlton Athletic
Elliot Lee to score anytime
Seven points from three games represents an excellent start to life for Johnnie Jackson as caretaker manager of Charlton.
Those results not only make fears of an unlikely relegation scrap seem much further away than they did at the time of Nigel Adkins’ dismissal, but they also give the Addicks faint hope of making something of their season.
That said, the task of closing the 11 point gap to the Play-Off places remains enormous – the South Londoners will need title-winning form to do so – but the beauty of Jackson’s work is that more now feels possible.
The former midfielder has implemented a 3-1-4-2 system, with George Dobson dictating at the base, allowing Alex Gilbey to trigger the press as the right-sider of two number eights, while the third midfielder is Elliot Lee.
The former Luton man has taken eight shots in three league games under Jackson, of which five have found the net with, surprisingly, only one – in the 4-0 thumping of Doncaster – finding the net.
Jayden Stockley occupies defenders with his height and physical presence, while Conor Washington can stretch back-lines by running in behind, which means space will open up for Lee to have an effort at goal and the 26-year-old may find the net here.
At the other end, Charlton should have the tools to keep out Burton, who over-rely on set pieces and long throws, creating little in open play.
Elliot Lee (aka the league one Messi) Has come on and changed again single-handedly, beautiful pass to set up the assist for the first goal then goes in wins a penalty two minutes later! #cafc
Get him signed #FACup
— Nic (@TheCharlton_Man) November 6, 2021
“Gillingham’s performances have picked up recently and with Vadaine Oliver making a nuisance of himself up top, I see Steve Evans’ side avoiding defeat at Hillsborough.”Gabriel Sutton
Sheffield Wednesday v Gillingham
Double Chance: Draw/Gillingham
On the face of things, Gillingham are in a relegation battle, but there is reason to think they can haul themselves into midtable between now and Christmas.
Steve Evans’ side have conceded just 21 goals – with no side in the bottom 11 shipping fewer – and are currently on a three-game unbeaten run in the league.
After a crucial 1-0 victory over Doncaster, which came thanks to Vadaine Oliver’s deflected header, they drew 2-2 at Bolton, where only some questionably late substitutions from Evans saw the Kent outfit give away a two-goal lead late on.
The Gills created by far the better chances, too, in the 0-0 draw with Accrington Stanley, putting the opposition goal at times under siege but were unable to capitalize due to a combination of profligate finishing, plus good goalkeeping and brave defending from the opposition.
Gillingham must contend with injuries, of course, but Oliver is still capable of causing problems in the opposition box with his frame, presence and work rate, while Kyle Dempsey is one of the most dynamic attacking midfielders in the division.
While Sheffield Wednesday got an impressive 3-0 victory over Sunderland in their previous league game, that was their only win in five outside cup competitions, with Darren Moore’s side drawing with Wimbledon, Cambridge, Lincoln and Cheltenham.
— GillsInTheBlood (@GillsInTheBlood) November 7, 2021
“Port Vale are League Two’s hot, in-form side at the moment, but I don’t think it’ll be long before Bradford take on that mantle. They were unlucky not to get all three points against leaders Forest Green last time out.”Gabriel Sutton
Port Vale v Bradford City
Bradford to win
Port Vale are the hottest team in League Two right now.
Forest Green Rovers remain the leaders but there is less fanfare around them due to recent results, so Vale are the name on everyone’s lips: it’s hard to argue with them deserving those plaudits, too, after a 5-1 FA Cup victory over Accrington Stanley.
It seems likely, though, that there will come a point this season at which Bradford gain similar recognition, even if Derek Adams’ side currently find themselves in 12th-place.
The Bantams have an opportunity to move into the Play-Off places with a victory, at least before the other League Two games kick-off, and then put a run together from there.
The West Yorkshire outfit average this season 1.62 Expected Goals For (xGF) per game and 1.04 Against (xGA), giving them a Ratio (xGR) of 61.02%: the second-best in the division.
In the previous league game, Adams tailored the perfect game plan to stop Forest Green and, through the work of organiser Niall Canavan, brutish anchor man Yann Songo’o, diligent midfielder Levi Sutton and target man Andy Cook, they would have won but for questionable refereeing decisions and ultimately drew 1-1.
Cook is now absent with an ankle problem, but the good news is that Lee Angol is back from injury – having featured from the bench in the 1-1 FA Cup draw with Exeter – and will bring a physical presence up top alongside willing runner Theo Robinson.
The latter could have the motivation to do damage at Vale Park, where he has some needle with natives which could add spice to this intriguing encounter.
THEO. ROBINSON. SCORES. GOALS.
— , (@saintnathh) November 9, 2021
“Fit, creative and lethal: Aaron Drinan has almost everything apart from aerial prowess, which is more than accounted for by target man Harry Smith. I see in-form Drinan getting among the goals once again.”Gabriel Sutton
Rochdale v Leyton Orient
Aaron Drinan to score anytime
Leyton Orient went into their previous league game on a five-game winless run, but finished it with a five-game unbeaten streak.
The number five is especially significant, because Orient put that many goals past Hartlepool without reply, as Kenny Jackett’s side got a seemingly stuttering promotion push right back on track.
The East Londoners were especially impressive against the ball, with an intelligently-coordinated pressing structure allowing them to steal it high up.
Craig Clay and Hector Kyprianou are two midfielders more than happy to put in a crunching challenge, Dan Kemp and Theo Archibald are both excellent ball carriers, Harry Smith occupies defenders with his height and physicality, while Aaron Drinan – who bagged a hat-trick against Pools – is close to a complete forward at this level.
What stands out about every player in this Os side is the exemplary fitness levels: right wing-back Tom James, for example, was dropped earlier in the season over question marks over his application, yet recently he’s shown the ability to charge forward and bust a gut to get a final touch for a goal.
That speaks to new standards at Orient and top management from Jackett, who is hoping to elevate his side back into automatic promotion contention.
⭐️Involved in 5⚽️️ in a single game fr. 20/21 (all domestic comps; exc. extra-time):
— playmakerstats (@playmaker_EN) November 2, 2021
“Walsall are in excellent form at present and I see Matt Taylor’s side creating enough chances – and having sufficient potency up top with George Miller – to secure victory in a high-scoring encounter.”Gabriel Sutton
Walsall v Harrogate Town
Walsall to win and Both Teams To Score
After an underwhelming start, Walsall are now six league games unbeaten and slipping into the Play-Off scramble under the radar.
George Miller looks fit, strong and potent up top, having scored seven goals in 10 since joining on loan from Barnsley, but he also has plenty of support in Matt Taylor’s 4-2-3-1 setup.
Brendan Kiernan provides direct running on the left, Kieran Phillips is more of a wriggler on the right and Tyrese Shade, who came off the bench at Sutton in the previous league game, scored the only goal with a sublime free-kick.
Jack Earing, meanwhile, has recently dropped into a deeper role for the Saddlers, where his grace on the ball and long range passing ability has made him an intriguing creative option, but the former Halifax man needs the destructive support of Joss Labadie alongside him.
With all this in mind, Walsall have hope of going level on points with Harrogate with a victory, having been eight points worse off at the end of September.
Simon Weaver’s side have dropped off in recent weeks, following a 6-1 thumping of Scunthorpe with a return of just one point from four league games, although they did secure a 2-1 FA Cup victory last time out at Wrexham.