Our expert Gab Sutton is back to give his latest thoughts ahead of the weekend EFL action with his weekly preview.
“Wimbledon have scored one first half goal and seven second half strikes, while Oxford’s record is the exact reverse. That’s why I think we could be looking at a game of two halves.”Gabriel Sutton
AFC Wimbledon v Oxford United
AFC Wimbledon are winless since the opening day but they have also lost only once which, having faced former Premier League clubs in Charlton, Bolton, Sunderland and Ipswich in their first six games, represents a solid start.
The Wombles showed immense courage to come back from two goals behind at Portman Road to earn a point, with Dapo Mebude, Nesta Guiness-Walker and Jack Rudoni making a real impact from the bench in the final half hour.
Replacing one of two strikers in Aaron Pressley, Mebude did not go up top but he was handed a free, attacking role which allowed him to pick up different areas of the field, take the ball and simply start running at opponents.
The Watford loanee has a reputation at his parent club for possessing searing pace and excellent one-on-one dribbling ability which could strike fear into League One rear-guards this season.
The Scotland Under-19s international, though, has some work ahead to satisfy head coach Mark Robinson who, even after his excellent half hour at Portman Road, questioned his ability to influence games from the outset.
It would not be a huge surprise, therefore, to see Mebude come on in this match at half-time, if AFC Wimbledon are trailing to an Oxford side that tend to be prolific before the interval.
James Henry inspired a 3-1 victory over Lincoln last week but, if the Yellows do lead at the break, there is every chance that Mebude will catalyse a resurgence – no matter what the deficit might be.
“Shrewsbury didn’t get the business they wanted done on Deadline Day, while Stanley have managed to retain their key strikers. Home win for me.”Gabriel Sutton
Accrington Stanley v Shrewsbury Town
Accrington Stanley to win
Shrewsbury boss Steve Cotterill is not happy.
After the 1-0 midweek defeat to Crewe in the EFL Trophy on Deadline Day, Cotterill was asked to address fan concerns and got rather tetchy with club media, claiming that he should not have to answer with supporters.
In another interview, he criticized a local reporter for tweeting about Salop’s transfer needs during the day.
This may be partly a psychological matter, relating to Cotterill’s playing days.
The former Burton goalscorer was a very feisty striker, with the mentality of going in for a challenge to anyone that might pose the slightest threat to him.
It could be that now, even though Cotterill is no longer playing, he still has the mind-set of responding to a threat aggressively, and his comments on Tuesday night were perhaps almost the metaphorical equivalent of a tackle.
Cotterill is a very driven character and that is part of why he has been successful previously in his career with Cheltenham and Bristol City, but his media handling in the modern game is a problem.
If Cotterill has similar difficulties with man management, then Shrewsbury’s tough start to the season may continue at Accrington Stanley, who have won three of their opening five encounters.
Those victories have come despite the uncertainty surrounding their key strikers, springy hold-up man Colby Bishop and relentless presser Dion Charles.
So far this season, defender Michael Nottingham plus midfielders Matt Butcher and Harry Pell have been the ones chipping in with the goals, with Butcher especially having a knack of popping up in dangerous areas.
Now Bishop and Charles have clarity about their futures, though, it would not be a huge surprise to see them start finding form
— Cal not Carl (@Cal_Marx_) September 1, 2021
“Mo Eisa has been in sizzling form for MK so far this season and I think the striker will come back to haunt his former club.”Gabriel Sutton
Cheltenham Town v Milton Keynes Dons
Mo Eisa to score
Mo Eisa was League Two’s top goalscorer for Cheltenham in 2017-18, with the wildcard recruit from Greenwich Borough scoring 23 goals before earning a £1 million move to Bristol City.
The striker has found it difficult to kick on in the previous two seasons, often finding himself behind strikers better suited to leading the line: Famara Diedhiou at Bristol City and Ivan Toney then Jonson Clarke-Harris at Peterborough, where he was often shoehorned onto the left of a front-three.
Eisa had two problems: he lacks physicality and is not especially hardworking.
Few teams can guarantee they will not go direct for periods of games and Eisa’s limitations make him ineffectual against a centre-back with a semblance of aerial prowess in a dual.
Plus, few teams operate with two out-and-out centre-forwards capable of sharing the workload and because Eisa so rarely sacrifices himself by moving away from the dangerous areas, either to harry a defender or for general off-the-ball movement, it can limit the rest of the team.
MK Dons, therefore, are the perfect side to work around his limitations and maximize his strengths.
Under Liam Manning, who replaced Russ Martin as head coach late in the summer, MK average 57% possession, the second-highest in League One; the Buckinghamshire outfit are always willing to work the ball patiently into the advanced areas, where Eisa can do damage.
Additionally, they play 3-4-1-2 and the presence of a second centre-forward – most recently Troy Parrott – means the requirements for graft off-the-ball are much lower than they are for a lone striker.
This brings us to what Eisa is good at: it’s not just finishing, although three goals in five games represents an excellent start in that regard.
The 27-year-old is also extremely skilful with great dexterity, which allows him to elude opponents around the edge of the 18-yard box, meaning he can create chances for himself and does not necessarily require clear cut chances to be laid on a plate by teammates.
This is something MK missed last season, despite the impressive contributions of Cameron Jerome.
Martin’s side entered the final third on numerous occasions but sometimes missed an element of guile in the final third, but with Eisa in the side, getting into those advanced positions will be a massive step towards finding the net.
“David Ajiboye has really impressed me so far this season and after his goal against Oldham last week, 13/2 on the winger finding the net again looks wonderful value to me.”Gabriel Sutton
Colchester United v Sutton United
David Ajiboye to score anytime
Colchester fans could be forgiven for being slightly underwhelmed by the quiet conclusion of their transfer window, baring a loan deal for Ipswich wide man Armando Dobra.
Inverted winger Armando Dobra has joined on loan from Ipswich, but Hayden Mullins’ side are short of a ruthless, goalscoring presence: Frank Nouble is arguably too selfless to fire the goals this season while Sylvester Jasper, on loan from Fulham, is talented but unproven.
While Colchester did have some chances in the 1-1 draw at Rochdale last time out, they hit the target just once and found the opposition net only with a comical own goal.
The U’s, who have been in lots of even encounters this season, have an experienced centre-back pairing of Luke Chambers and Tommy Smith as well as a dependable midfield veteran in Cole Skuse.
As a result of that solidity, it may be difficult to Sutton United poacher Donovan Wilson – let alone his selfless strike-partner, Omar Bugiel – to find clear cut chances, or even Isaac Olaofe, who has this week re-joined on loan from Millwall after a starring in the National League last term.
The South Londoners’ threat, though, could come from David Ajiboye, who took four shots last time out in the 2-1 loss to Oldham – scored the club’s first ever EFL home goal in their 123-year history -and had seven touches inside the penalty area.
Adjiboye has quick feet and is not afraid to have a pop from distance, so there is every chance he could trouble the scoresheet in Essex
Historic day, first ever hole game in the Football League for @suttonunited – I am so proud of this club for all what they have done and I thank them for all what they have done for me. Best wishes today all ❤️
— Keith (@krobbo81) August 28, 2021
“Leyton Orient are capable of beating anyone on their day, as they proved against Bradford. Given that they have lost just one of their first five league games, I’m happy to back them with draw no bet at 11/10 – this one lands if the O’s win, but the stake will be returned if the game ends all square.”Gabriel Sutton
Newport County v Leyton Orient
Leyton Orient draw no bet
Newport County come into this game having lost their last two in league and cup by an aggregate scoreline of 11-0.
Granted, eight of the goals came in the EFL Cup tie with Southampton, in which Michael Flynn named a rotated XI, but the first half capitulation and defeat at Salford the following Saturday was a sizable blow.
Flynn has since added midfielders Ollie Cooper and Jake Cain, on loan from Swansea and Liverpool respectively, in hope that they can lift the Exiles, who face tough opposition.
Leyton Orient come into this game off the back of a deserved 2-0 victory over Bradford, a side widely tipped for top spot.
Ruel Sotiriou was the stand-out performer in that match, with the Cypriot breaking the deadlock with a tight-angled strike, reminiscent of Marco Van Basten’s goal for Holland against Soviet Union in the Final of Euro ’88.
Kenny Jackett deployed a 4-3-3 in that game with tenacious talent Hector Kyprianou and veteran battler Darren Pratley supported in midfield by the similarly industrious Craig Clay but, despite injuries, the former Pompey boss has alternative options.
Jackett can switch to a 4-2-3-1 to incorporate the more individualistic Dan Kemp in the number 10 role; the attacking midfielder is an excellent dribbler and more than capable of producing moments of quality behind target man Harry Smith.
The O’s have also bolstered their squad on Deadline Day, adding energetic midfielder Callum Reilly and loaning in Millwall defender Alex Mitchell.
— Leyton Orient (@leytonorientfc) August 31, 2021
“If Chris Lines and Bruno Andrade start for Stevenage, I reckon they can narrowly beat a Swindon side that have enjoyed their fair share of fortune in recent encounters.”Gabriel Sutton
Stevenage v Swindon
Stevenage to win 1-0
Swindon have been fortunate to secure successive 1-0 wins.
Town scored from their only shot on target against Salford, who created far more chances and it was a similar story against Mansfield, who had a perfectly good goal from a free-kick ruled out moments before Tyreece Simpson’s winner.
While Ben Garner’s side are doing superbly, therefore, to be fourth at this stage – a late recruitment drive consigning relegation fears to the annals of July – they are likely to ultimately settle around midtable.
Stevenage, meanwhile, were on the wrong side of a 1-0 result in their previous league game, losing at Walsall despite an improved second half performance.
The Boro have creative options, though, in deep controller Chris Lines, technician Jake Reeves, fleet-footed Arthur Read who loves to roam and direct runner Bruno Andrade.
Lines and Andrade made a difference from the bench last time out and, if they start, could see Stevenage shade the play against Swindon and pick up a narrow win.