“Ipswich need to get their skates on if they want to play a part in the promotion race this season, but I think they’ll get the win they need against strugglers Shrewsbury.”Gabriel Sutton
Ipswich Town v Shrewsbury Town
Ipswich to win
Ipswich boss Paul Cook will be looking for a reaction from his players after a 2-1 loss at Accrington Stanley last time out.
Cook admitted his former club were quicker to second balls, stronger in individual duels and “wanted it more”, which came as a surprise to the Liverpudlian, who had seen his side demolish Doncaster the previous Tuesday.
Defeat leaves Town nine points off the Play-Offs with a game in hand and luckily, being just a quarter of the way through the season, there is more than enough time to make up that gap.
Equally, there is a strong possibility that Sunderland, Wigan, Rotherham, Wycombe and MK Dons will all be pushing for automatic promotion, while Plymouth Argyle are currently 10 games unbeaten, so there is little room for error for the Suffolkians.
Ipswich ought to get the three points they require against Shrewsbury, who are 23rd with just eight points from their first XI games after a 2-1 loss at Bolton last time out.
Despite this, midfielder Khanya Leshabela – who arrived on loan from Leicester with extremely positive reviews – has been left as an unused substitute in recent games.
Last season’s star, Nathanael Ogbeta, has not been able to make recent starting XIs either, which does make one question whether Steve Cotterill’s old-school man management style is getting the best out of Salop’s top young players.
“Bolton to win and BTTS is a bet that would have landed for four of the Trotters’ 11 league games this season, including both of their most recent encounters, so I’m delighted to get 5/1 on this with Ian Evatt’s side facing a defensively suspect Wednesday team.”Gabriel Sutton
Sheffield Wednesday v Bolton Wanderers
Bolton to win and Both Teams To Score
Bolton are just outside the top six after back-to-back wins over Charlton and Shrewsbury.
The 4-1 scoreline at the Valley perhaps did not reflect the true balance of play, though Ian Evatt’s side did finish that game well thanks to some excellent individual performances from Oladapo Afolayan and Kieran Lee.
Against Shrewsbury, those two players were in on the act once again, with Afolayan scoring the second goal and Lee assisting twice.
The latter returns to a home where he is highly-regarded, having played a key part in Championship Play-Off campaigns under Carlos Carvalhal.
Sheffield Wednesday have since endured a significant fall from grace and sit midtable in League One, having won just one of their last six league games.
In the 2-1 loss to Oxford last time out, the Owls had a group of four midfielders – ball-progressor Dennis Adeniran, playmaker Barry Bannan, long-range shooter Lewis Wing and direct runner Olamide Shodipo – who all offered something going forward.
That combination, though, did not give Darren Moore’s side much defensive insurance, especially with Calum Paterson used as an aerial reference point at times alongside nippy striker Lee Gregory.
One option is to bring Sam Hutchinson into the side, but the anchor man has been part of a stale dressing room culture at Wednesday over recent years and may not be fully fit.
For that reason, we could be in for a high-scoring game in South Yorkshire, with Bolton likeliest to pick up all three points.
— Cigs87 (@9Cigs87) October 2, 2021
“I don’t see Wycombe keeping a clean sheet here, because Gillingham’s Vadaine Oliver will make his presence felt and the hosts do not have a stable, reliable back-three. Their front-three, though, is excellent and that’s what I think will win them this game.”Gabriel Sutton
Wycombe Wanderers v Gillingham
Wycombe to win and Both Teams To Score
Wycombe have begun their return to League One with four consecutive home wins, after a dramatic 4-3 triumph over Morecambe last time out.
Gareth Ainsworth will not be delighted with how his side defended one or two of the goals for the opposition, which have presented him with a dilemma.
Anthony Stewart is difficult to drop for his leadership, influence and ability to dominate the box, Ryan Tafazolli is Wycombe’s best defender, Joe Jacobson brings pin-point deliveries, but those three do not always work simultaneously.
Despite being accomplished in possession, Stewart is uncomfortable playing as a wide centre-back due to his lack of mobility, while Tafazolli and Jacobson are left-footed.
The alternative is to bring in Jack Grimmer in as the right-sided centre-back for his overlapping surges and pace in the recovery, but that then means dropping one of Stewart, Tafazolli or Jacobson which is an unenviable dilemma.
The best option for the team may be to leave Stewart out, but Ainsworth may seek solutions elsewhere, or even stick with the same XI.
With Wycombe still working themselves out defensively, there is every chance that Gillingham – who boast one of the best target men in the division in Vadaine Oliver and one of the most driven midfielders in Kyle Dempsey – can trouble the scoresheet.
At the other end, though, the Chairboys hold the trump card with their attacking trio.
Target man Sam Vokes, more mobile than perhaps given credit for, is an excellent aerial out-ball from deep, Garath McCleary brings intelligence, a nifty work ethic and moments of Championship quality while speedy Daryl Horgan stretches the game with his runs in behind.
That trio is so effective, so deadly, that Wycombe do not need to be a prominent force in their games to carry a threat, because every time they get the ball into the final third there is always that chance they can open their opponents up.
Sam Vokes = colossus. Do not underestimate the importance of how easy he makes it for us to win first balls in the final 1/3. Improve the quality and consistency of our crossing and he'll bang in a fair few goals, too. Then again, the geniuses on Facebook know better. #Chairboys pic.twitter.com/7hIarNNd4s
— Tom Hancock (@Tom_Hancock_) October 2, 2021
“Barrow against Leyton Orient are two sides who look capable of challenging for promotion this season, so I think this match will be a wonderful advert for League Two.”Gabriel Sutton
Barrow v Leyton Orient
Both Teams To Score
If the rest of the League Two season shapes up anything like the first 10 games, then the Play-Off scramble could be fascinating.
Leyton Orient currently occupy fourth spot, but they lie a mere two points above 14th placed Crawley and, when one considers how many teams below that pack who will be expecting to click into gear, we could be in for quite the feast.
Outsiders will be hoping for a share of the spoils between seventh-placed Barrow and Orient, but a high-scoring encounter looks likely between two sides that have scored 32 league goals between them.
Some Bluebirds fans could have been forgiven for questioning whether their attack this season would click, in the absence of an obvious focal point like Scott Quigley, last season’s Player of the Year who is now at Stockport.
Mark Cooper’s side have created plenty of chances without one, though, by playing quick, incisive, one-touch football: loaning Robbie Gotts and Jordan Stevens from Leeds has certainly helped in that regard.
The O’s, meanwhile, suffered late heartache last week with a 3-2 loss at Port Vale, where they led going into injury-time, but it does not detract from the excellent start for Kenny Jackett’s side.
Strong centre-back Omar Beckles, veteran ball-winner Darren Pratley and target man Harry Smith give the East Londoners a powerful spine.
On top of that, the intelligent forward passing of Tom James, the pin-point deliveries from Connor Wood, the ball-carrying ability of Theo Archibald and the incredible fitness of Aaron Drinan gives Orient the means to create chances – they will do that at Holker Street, but so will their hosts.
— Gabriel Sutton (@GabSutton) September 30, 2021
“Scunthorpe I believe are unfortunately the worst side in League Two, so backing the Harrogate win to nil at 7/4 is a no-brainer for me. I anticipate a comfortable afternoon for Simon Weaver’s high-flying side.”Gabriel Sutton
Harrogate Town v Scunthorpe United
Harrogate win to nil
Harrogate maintained their early grip on second spot in League Two with a 2-1 victory at Oldham last time out.
The Sulphurites had to dig in for that victory, especially in the latter stages, but they possess centre-backs in Will Smith and Connor Hall who have forged a strong understanding over the past few seasons.
In central midfield, meanwhile, captain Josh Falkingham brings bags of energy in support of the press next to the dynamic Alex Pattison, who can produce moments of quality.
Out wide, Harrogate have the vibrant Jack Diamond on the left while on the right, Weaver can turn to technician George Thomson or the more direct Simon Power, meaning the North Yorkshire outfit will have the means to adapt to the needs of the game in the second half.
Up top, of course, they have physical striker Luke Armstrong, who has built on an outstanding half-season in the National League with Hartlepool by becoming League Two’s top goalscorer with seven goals.
Armstrong brings many of the qualities the industrious Aaron Martin gave Harrogate last season, but he is a lot more ruthless in front of goal and that could prove crucial against Scunthorpe.
The Iron fell to a 3-0 loss at Newport last time out and have just six goals to their name in 10 league games, sitting bottom of the table.
To make matters worse, chairman Peter Swann was asked on a local radio station whether he part of him was worried. His reaction: “about what?”
Peter Swann saying fans should downgrade their expectations.. my expectation is to stay in the football league, how much more of a downgrade do I need here like? 🤷🏻♀️
— victoria hall (@VictoriaaHall) October 4, 2021
“Alex Revell has shown his adaptability with a crucial formation change that is helping Stevenage re-solidify. I think their game with Exeter will either be goalless, or decided by a solitary strike.”Gabriel Sutton
Stevenage v Exeter City
Under 1.5 goals
Stevenage ended a run of seven games without a win last weekend, when they beat Hartlepool 2-0.
That result was the perfect way to follow up the progress they made in the previous week, holding high-flying Harrogate to a goalless draw in a game in which they had the better chances with three efforts cleared off the line.
The upturn in performances, as well as back-to-back clean sheets, must have something to do with Alex Revell’s decision to switch from the 4-2-2-2 he has deployed for much of the season to a flat 4-4-2.
This new formation has given the Boro more protection in wide areas, especially in the form of the hardworking Elliot Osborne, who has come in on the right.
This game, though, could be all about Jake Taylor – wonderfully aggressive, committed and tenacious – who was a reliable figure at Exeter for five years before moving to Hertfordshire for family reasons.
The task for Taylor and midfield partner Jake Reeves on Saturday will be to ensure there is no space between lines for the visitors, who will attempt to fashion chances by one-touch combination play from their front-three.
Matt Jay and Jevani Brown both have sharp, agile minds while striker Sam Nombe is also adding a more nuanced level of intelligence to his movement, but Exeter do not have so much creativity from deep.
The Grecians have a right wing-back in Josh Key who cuts inside a lot, a left wing-back in Jake Caprice who does hug the touchline but is right-footed, while Matt Taylor’s side do not possess a deep-lying playmaker.
That does not always hold them back, but it does mean that against a compact block of eight, they could find it difficult because the game will be about using the width of the field and switching play effectively, which may not be among their main strengths.