League Two Predictions: Gameweek 18

Gareth Ainsworth

Gareth Ainsworth

The big game in League Two comes at Whaddon Road, as Cheltenham look to respond to last week’s 5-1 defeat when they play injury-stricken Wycombe. Long ball Mansfield face smooth passing Plymouth, while Morecambe make the long trip south to play Portsmouth, who have flattered to deceive this season.

Cheltenham v Wycombe

Wycombe Wanderers have so far reaped the benefits of having a small, tight nit squad, but they could now be seeing the drawbacks. The Chairboys are in the midst of an injury crisis at the moment, with 5 first team players likely to miss this match. Gareth Ainsworth could only name 4 substitutes in the 3-1 defeat to Burton Albion on Monday night, a match in which Wycombe seemed to run out of energy in the second half, and, uncharacteristically, they conceded some very cheap goals. However, Cheltenham did the same in the 5-1 loss at Stevenage last week, when they conceded 2 goals in the first 8 minutes. In the first few weeks of the season, Mark Yates’ side were very well organized, but now they have not kept a clean sheet in 11 games. Because these teams were so poor defensively the week before, there is a possibility that they will both approach this match with a degree of trepidation.

Mansfield v Plymouth

This week, Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox has called for more support from the fans, many of whom want him gone. Part of their frustration is the long ball football, but crucially, Mansfield are without a win in 2 months. Nobody will complain when the team is playing hoof ball and winning, but as a fan, it is hard to support the team when the results are not coming, the excitement goes, and the football starts to look dull and monotonous. By contrast, Plymouth are playing some excellent football at the moment. The Pilgrims brushed aside Portsmouth 3-0 in front of the Sky cameras last week, and certainly in the first half of that match, some of their passing and movement was a joy to watch. It would be little surprise if Plymouth won this match by a distance.

Portsmouth v Morecambe

Portsmouth have been incredibly disappointing so far this season, and the only possible explanation for this can be complacency. Some of the goals they have conceded, particularly in the 3-0 loss against Portsmouth, have been due to a lack of cover for the full-backs, Nicky Shorey and Alex Wynter. Andy Awford has a lot of high-profile players in the squad, but perhaps a shortage of ones that are prepared to work hard and sacrifice themselves for the team, which is a key aspect at this level. Morecambe were certainly able to do that in their 1-0 win over Bury last time out, and given their poor form, it was a brave move for them to press Bury high up the pitch. However, it clearly worked for them as they ran out deserved winners, with teenage forward Paul Mullin leading the line impressively. If you look at these teams in terms of proven quality, you would expect Portsmouth to win, but Morecambe have a good team spirit and given Portsmouth’s problems, they can get a point.