League Two Predictions: Gameweek 17

League Two has a pairing of televised games on this weekend. In Saturday’s early kick-off, an in-form Plymouth side face south coast rivals Portsmouth, who are struggling away from home. The Monday night game comes at Adams Park, where league leaders Wycombe Wanderers take on Burton Albion, for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s first game in charge of the Brewers. This blog covers Cambridge’s Friday night clash with Northampton, a potentially high-scoring affair, Carlisle against Accrington, both of whom have improved under new managers, and draw specialists York against an Oxford side relying on League Two’s top scorer.

Cambridge v Northampton

Kwesi Appiah

Kwesi Appiah

Cambridge and Northampton are both attack-minded sides. They have scored 26 and 25 goals respectively, which are among the best attacking records in League Two, and neither team tend to draw many matches. Northampton have only drawn 1 of their last 16 games while Cambridge have drawn 1 in 11, which suggests that these sides will rest on their laurels in this match.

Cambridge have been in reasonable form since the start of October. They have taken 10 points from 6 games, and knocked League One Fleetwood out of the FA Cup. Whenever Cambridge attack, they attack at pace, and have looked impressive on the counter-attack so far. The pace of Harrison Dunk and Kwesi Appiah has been the key for the U’s, and it looks as though those players will be able to shake off their knocks for this match.

Northampton struggled over October, with just 1 point from 5 games. However, they got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory against AFC Wimbledon last time out in the league. It says a lot about the organization of the team in that match that their opponents failed to hit the target, and Chris Wilder was quick to praise the performances from the centre-backs, Chris Robertson and Ryan Cresswell.

In some ways, these teams are quite evenly matched, because they are in a similar position in the table. However, a draw seems unlikely, given that both teams like to attack. The Cobblers will be without key players, most notably top scorer Marc Richards, and that may put them at a slight disadvantage here.

Carlisle v Accrington

Derek Asamoah

Derek Asamoah

Two teams who have improved of late under new management. When Keith Curle first took over at Carlisle, they were bottom of the league, but 4 wins from a possible 8 has seen them climb out of the relegation zone. This is particularly impressive when you consider that Carlisle have been having a hellish time in terms of injuries. Their defence has had to change week by week, and up front, the likes of Billy Paynter, Steven Rigg and Derek Asamoah have all had fitness problems. In fact Asamoah, who joined 3 weeks ago, has had more goals (3) than starts (1) for Carlisle, so if they can get him fit they may move further up the table.

Accrington are one of the form teams in League Two, and this blog believes they can compete for a play-off place. John Coleman has done some good work in the loan market so far, with winger John O’Sullivan performing well since joining from Blackburn, while West Ham forward Sean Maguire has scored 3 goals in 8 games. He has also got the best out of Shay McCartan and Marcus Carver, who by all accounts have performed well when used as an impact substitute. There has been significant progress from both teams of late, and a draw would be a reasonable result for both teams.

York v Oxford

Danny Hylton

Danny Hylton

York City’s ‘draw specialists’ tag just isn’t tearing off. The Minstermen have only won twice this season, and have drawn a remarkable 9 times in 16 league games. They tend to be involved in very tight games, and many York fans feel that 20th in the league is an unfair reflection on the team’s performances. At the moment, they have the look of a team that will finish just inside the bottom half.

Oxford possess League Two’s top goalscorer, Danny Hylton. When he first arrived at the Kassam, he had a very poor goalscoring record, and there were questions as to whether he could replace club legend James Constable, who left in the summer. So far, those questions have been answered by his total of 10 league goals. Oxford have only scored 18 goals this season, and it seems they will be very reliant on his form and fitness.

The Yellows have lost their last 2 league games, whereas York are in a fairly strong position. They have made some decent loan signings, Bournemouth defender Stephane Zubar and Middlesbrough midfielder Bradley Halliday, and they have not lost for almost a month. Russ Wilcox can get his first home win as manager of the Minstermen.