Leyton Orient vs Hartlepool
Leyton Orient to win – 4/6 (1.67)
Don’t tell him I said this, but Richie Wellens is a slightly scary man. Since taking the helm at Brisbane Road less than six months ago he’s steered his Leyton Orient side from the fringes of the relegation scrap to the top of the pile in League 2 but despite all that he is still not happy.
‘Sloppy’ was the word he used after last Saturday’s 3-1 win at Colchester and he added that had his players made better decisions in the final third they should have had six or seven goals.
Heaven help Hartlepool if the O’s do click into gear on Saturday. They have scored eight goals in their opening five games, four of them wins, and Colchester’s late consolation on the break last weekend was just the second Orient have conceded this season so far.
They have beaten Grimsby and, more impressively, Mansfield in their only two home games so far, keeping a clean sheet in both.
Pools did manage to score in their last away game, a 2-1 reverse at Northampton, but that represents half their goalscoring return all season, and their first road game saw them humbled 4-0 at Walsall. They are one of just a dozen teams in the 92 in the English league ladder without a win to their name from their opening five fixtures, and I expect that to remain the case come Saturday tea time.
With the likes of Charlie Kelman, on loan from QPR, starting to heat up for Orient, and with Pools new boss Paul Hartley struggling for numbers, this one looks like a solid home banker for me and the 1.67 on offer for another Orient win is too good to turn down.
Northampton Town vs Doncaster Rovers
Both Teams To Score – 8/11 (1.73)
This promises to be one of the games of the day in the Football League between two highly-fancied sides in the League 2 promotion race.
Freshly-relegated Donny have established themselves as one of my teams in the conversation for the title, thanks in large part to the character they showed to snatch late points against Sutton, Wimbledon and Stockport and then last Saturday to come from 1-0 down early-on at home to Salford – another side who have been impressive early this season.
Kyle Hurst bagged both goals, one either side of the break, to keep Rovers unbeaten and take them into fifth place, with an identical record to Northampton Town in fourth – one of the other three unbeaten sides in the division.
The only reason the Cobblers are ahead is by virtue of goals scored, and that is largely thanks to Sam Hoskins, who notched both in the 2-2 draw at Crewe Alexandra last weekend – the equaliser coming deep into stoppage-time once again, in this dramatic division.
Hoskins now has seven goals in five league games – scoring twice in three of them, and with only one penalty. He’s helped Town build a reputation as the go-to team for goals and entertainment this season, a far cry from last year when their promotion push was built on a solid foundation of defensive rigidity.
There have been 19 goals in Northampton’s five matches so far, by some distance the most in the division. Their 11 goals scored are two more than any other team while their eight conceded is 3rd-most of the 24 teams in the division.
Rovers are not too far behind, with eight scored and five conceded and it’s why I fancy more goals to come at Sixfields on Saturday.
Town’s previous two home games ended in 3-2 and 2-1 wins over Colchester and Hartlepool respectively. I am not sure they win this one, however, Rovers have earned creditable draws at both Bradford City and AFC Wimbledon in their only previous away games. While Northampton have scored and conceded in every game this season, Donny have allowed at least one goal in each of the last five in all competitions, but go into the game on a high after 2-1 wins in succession against promotion-chasing Stockport and Salford.
I’m certainly not going to talk anyone out of taking the 1.8 available on over 2.5 goals in this one, however I think a 1-1 draw would be a decent outcome for both sides and so I’ll be taking the 1.73 on BTTS in this one.
Stockport County vs Swindon Town
Stockport to win – 4/5 (1.8)
While many might be shocked to see big-spending Stockport sat in the bottom four, I think it’s a blip, and I can see them climbing the table on Saturday afternoon.
Stockport had scored in every game this season before Tuesday’s stalemate against Leicester City in the Carabao Cup. They suffered miserable road trips to Stevenage and Doncaster, conceding last-gasp winners, and then surrendered a second-half lead by conceding twice in as many minutes – not for the first time this season either – at Mansfield in another tough match last Saturday.
Dave Challinor has them close, but they’ve not quite found their feet at this level yet. Maybe this one is where it clicks, especially as Swindon will be without talisman Harry McKirdy
McKirdy will be starting a three-match ban after bursting into the referee’s room after being sent-off against Salford on August 6 and throwing a bottle of protein drink, which drenched the ref’s suit.
The forward has been attracting attention from bigger fish than Swindon, both north and south of the border, after scoring 23 goals to fire Town into the play-offs this season and notching in their last two matches to boot, a creditable 1-1 draw against early leaders Leyton Orient and a 3-0 cruise against managerless Rochdale last Saturday.
Swindon haven’t fared particularly well on their travels so far this season, losing 3-0 at Harrogate and 2-0 at Walsall in the Carabao Cup, though they did pick up a point at Carlisle despite being pegged back in a 1-1 draw.
Stockport might have lost four of their five games but their six goals scored is among the top-half in the division – it’s stopping them at the other end which is their issue. Nobody has conceded more than the nine they have already shipped, although it should be said three of those were scored by Barrow in the opening half-hour of the opening game. Leicester fielded a strong side on Tuesday and could not find a way through until penalties.
While I’m tempted by the 1.73 on BTTS here, and the 1.87 on over 2.5 goals looks decent value, I’m actually going to keep it really simple and go for Stockport to hit their stride here. They won their last home game 1-0 against Colchester and I could see similar here as Challinor seeks to get back to basics. The 1.8 on offer is too much for a side perfectly capable of blowing sides away on their day, and without McKirdy, I struggle to see it being Swindon’s day.