League One Predictions: Gameweek 19

Jonathan Forte

Jonathan Forte

There are battles between teams around the League One play-off places this weekend. Sheffield United look to smoothen their stuttering form by ending Notts County’s unbeaten away record, while there’s a Manchester clash between Rochdale and Oldham, who have both surpassed expectations thus far. Crewe could move off the bottom with a win over Doncaster, who have benefitted from the recent return of striker Curtis Main.

Sheff Utd v Notts Co

Both of these teams are currently in the lower play-off positions, but the difference is, Sheffield United are slightly underachieving with the squad they have, but Notts County are punching well above their weight. County lost 2-1 to Yeovil last week, but they were very hard done by. The decision to send midfielder Gary Jones off after half an hour was completely unjustified, and thankfully now the suspension has been cancelled. This young side needs a player like Gary Jones, who offers a lot of experience, and is not a player to shirk a challenge. Sheffield United, on the other hand, are still trying to find their rhythm. Over October, it looked as though they were beginning to build some form, but since then they have had some disappointing results, perhaps coinciding with the Ched Evans saga. Another problem is a lack of tactical consistency. Only 7 players have started more than 10 games for the Blades this season, and because they have such a big squad, Nigel Clough is at times under pressure to rotate. County are unbeaten away from home and this blog will back them to take a point on their short trip to Brammall Lane.

Crewe v Doncaster

Crewe won 3 consecutive games in October, but since then they have had a goals crisis. The Railwaymen have scored just 2 goals in their last 6, forcing boss Steve Davis to act quickly in the loan market. Uche Ikpeazu scored 4 goals from 10 starts on loan at Gresty Road last season, and he re-joins alongside Nicky Ajose, who once belonged to the Manchester United youth academy. These strikers have the task of making an instant impact against a fairly solid Doncaster side, who have the 2nd best defensive record in the bottom half of League One. There have been recent signs of improvement on the goals front from Paul Dickov’s side, as key striker Curtis Main has recently returned from injury. He scored twice in the 4-1 FA Cup success against Weston Super Mare, and once in the 3-1 win at Rochdale. Doncaster will take confidence from those results, and that might give them a slight edge here.

Rochdale v Oldham

When compared with other derbies in Manchester, this is not a game that many neutrals will get too excited about, but both sets of fans can certainly be excited about their start to the season. Rochdale did not change much of their squad over the summer, and are continuing to play entertaining, high-energy football to great effect. Oldham, on the other hand, have had just 1 defeat since August, and they are always difficult to break down. When playing on the counter-attack, they have a dynamic, pacey striker in Jonathan Forte, who has already scored 12 league goals, which equates to almost half their overall tally. Oldham have drawn 5 of their last 6 away games, and they may get another one here.