League Two Predictions: Gameweek 16

Armand Gnanduillet

Armand Gnanduillet

The big game at the top of League Two this weekend comes at the Pirelli, as in-form Plymouth threaten to overtake managerless Burton in the promotion race. Bury can climb into the top 3 with a win against an unpredictable Cambridge side, so to can Shrewsbury if they win at a Dagenham & Redbridge, who often struggle at home. This blog covers the clash between 2 of last season’s relegated clubs, Tranmere and Stevenage, 2 of the in-form teams, Exeter and Luton, and 2 of the lower-scoring sides in the division, Hartlepool and Newport.

Exeter v Luton

Exeter and Luton are this division’s 2 most in-form teams. Exeter have had just 1 defeat since early September, while Luton have won 7 on the bounce. Exeter have a very young team, and the advantage of this has been that energy levels always remain high in the closing stages. 33% of Exeter’s goals have come in the final 15 minutes, and over the last 6 weeks, they have rescued 10 points from losing positions. Luton Town are finally living up to their billing as promotion favourites, and a key factor behind this has been a settled defence. They have conceded just 3 goals in their last 9 games, and in that time, they have only made a total of 3 changes to the keeper and back-line.

Hartlepool v Newport

Hartlepool United are bottom of the table, after 3 consecutive defeats. They have appointed Paul Murray as the new boss, yet one wonders whether a man who has never managed before, will have enough experience to handle such testing circumstances. He certainly needs some backing from chairman Ken Hodgcroft, to at least sign a striker. Hartlepool still only have 2 forwards in the squad, Charlie Wyke and an injury-prone Marlon Harewood, so given the chronic lack of goals, it seems surprising that the club have not looked to address this problem. By contrast, Newport County are in the play-off places for the first time. The Exiles have only lost once since late August, to Oxford, and even that defeat came from a fluke goal. Newport will pile the pressure on Pool.

Tranmere v Stevenage

Tranmere have only scored 3 goals in their last 9 league games, so it is no mystery what new manager Micky Adams will want to work on. Since taking over 2 weeks ago, Adams has already brought in 4 new players, 2 of which are strikers. Armand Gnanduillet has made an impact since joining. He scored a brace in the 2-2 draw with AFC Wimbledon, the first of which a delicate finish, the second a bullet header, which suggests he may be the instinctive goalscorer Tranmere need. Like Rovers, Stevenage came down from League One last season, but they have had a slightly stronger start to life in England’s basement division. They are 15th, 3 points off the play-offs, and seem to possess a creative talent in Chris Whelpdale, who has already scored 5 goals from midfield. Tranmere are without a win in 9, while Boro have only won once away since 1st March, which suggests a draw here.