Midweek Predictions: 21st October

Here are this blog’s preview of Tuesday night’s round of matches in the Championship, League One & League Two. To see all the predictions, go to the table at the bottom.

The Championship

Rotherham v Fulham

Kit Symons

Kit Symons

Rotherham battled to a 2-1 win against Leeds on Friday night. Although they perhaps didn’t have as much technical quality as their Yorkshire opponents, they were an awful lot more committed, and this was the underlying factor behind their victory. Forward Alex Revell scored his 1st goal of the season, and the gritty manner in which he stole the ball from Rolando Bianchi to set up the winning goal typified his performance that night. Manager Steve Evans has built a a strong, hardworking side, and just by looking at the chalkboard of their last match, we can see how much distance some of their players are prepared to cover. The willingness to track back shown by each player has contributed to Rotherham’s strong defensive record, with no side in the bottom half conceding fewer goals than the Millers.

Fulham are showing sharp signs of improvement under caretaker boss Kit Symons. The Cottagers have now won 4 of their last 5 games in all competitions, and victory on Tuesday night may see them climb out of the drop zone for the first time. There appears to have been a slight change in mentality since Symons has been in charge. Under Magath, Fulham were playing tentative, safe passes in certain games, they looked fearful of sides that carried any physical prowess, and players would not work hard enough when the team was out of possession. Now, however, Fulham are made of sterner stuff, and although they did not play particularly entertaining football against Norwich on Saturday, they restricted their opponents to very few chances.

Another factor behind Fulham’s improvement, has been more tactical consistency. Magath would constantly tinker with his side, and used 27 players in 7 Championship games, whereas Symons has made, on average, just 1 change per match. Clearly, this new sense of stability has made a huge difference to the team. If Fulham can match Rotherham for their work rate, then their superior technical quality may be telling .

League One

Colchester v Chesterfield

Eoin Doyle

Eoin Doyle

If the League One season started when Colchester’s new manager took charge, the U’s would be just outside the play-off places. Tony Humes has so far done a good job motivating his young side, who are playing some entertaining football under his guidance. He has also got the best out of Freddie Sears, who has scored 5 goals in 9 games since the change of manager. When it comes to League One strikers, however, there is nobody better than Eoin Doyle at present. He has scored 14 goals, 6 more than the division’s 2nd top scorer. It is incredible how well Doyle is doing in this division, given that he was not particularly rated by Chesterfield fans last season in League Two. Although the Spireites have only won 1 of their last 6 games, they have played 3 of the promotion favourites in that time, along with 2 other top half teams. On current performances, they are more likely to reach the play-off places than get dragged into a relegation battle.

Gillingham v Preston

Gillingham had a respectable start to the season, but are now without a win in 5 league games, leaving them 1 point above the drop zone. The fact that they got a 1-1 draw at Rochdale was more down to poor finishing from their opponents, rather than a good showing from Gillingham. Peter Taylor’s side face Preston, who have won their last 5 games in all competitions, scoring 13 goals, which suggests they are becoming slightly less reliant on Joe Garner. In recent times, Preston have been fairly efficient when up against the lesser teams, making this match one they can be confident of winning. However, the Lilywhites have often struggled to gain control in big games, so trips to Bristol City and Swindon next month will test their promotion credentials.

League Two

Morecambe v York

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Russ Wilcox did not get off to the best of starts as York City manager, after a 1-0 home defeat to Shrewsbury. In fairness, Wilcox had only had 2 days to train with the players prior to that match, and the late goal his side conceded came when they had a man disadvantage, after Ryan Jarvis’s sending off. York face a Morecambe side who remain in the play-off places, after a 2-0 win at Burton Albion. The Shrimps were relatively poor in the 1st half of that match, when they had to rely on some good saves from keeper Barry Roche, and struggled to get the ball to their strikers, Paul Mullin and Padraig Amond. They capitalized on a bright spell early in the 2nd half with 2 goals, and were not truly tested from that point on. This is not a Morecambe side to be particularly fearful of, and this blog will back Russ Wilcox to get his first win as York City manager.

Northampton v Oxford

This match carries a spicy sub-plot, with Chris Wilder facing his old club. Back in December, Wilder controversially left Oxford, who were competing for promotion, to go to bottom of the table Northampton. 10 months down the line, that decision looks justified, as Northampton stayed up and are now eyeing a play-off place, while Oxford slipped down to 8th last season, and are now battling the drop. The Yellows have had just 1 away win since January, and lost their last game on the road 5-1 to Cambridge United, in front of the Sky TV cameras. They had plenty of possession in that match, but could not create enough chances, and top scorer Danny Hylton looked very isolated. Given that Oxford have the joint-worst away record in the Football League, Northampton must be favoured here.

Fixture Prediction
The Championship
Blackburn v Birmingham Home win
Blackpool v Derby Away win
Bournemouth v Reading Home win
Brentford v Sheff Wed Draw
Cardiff v Ipswich Home win
Charlton v Bolton Away win
Huddersfield v Brighton Home win
Norwich v Leeds Home win
Rotherham v Fulham Away win
Watford v Nottm Forest Home win
Wigan v Millwall Draw
Wolves v Middlesbrough Away win
League One
Barnsley v Notts Co Away win
Bristol City v Bradford Home win
Colchester v Chesterfield Draw
Crawley v Walsall Draw
Crewe v Peterborough Away win
Doncaster v Leyton Orient Draw
Gillingham v Preston Away win
MK Dons v Fleetwood Home win
Oldham v Coventry Home win
Port Vale v Scunthorpe Home win
Sheff Utd v Yeovil Home win
Swindon v Rochdale Home win
League Two
Accrington v Hartlepool Draw
AFC Wimbledon v Plymouth Home win
Cambridge v Cheltenham Home win
Carlisle v Burton Draw
Exeter v Wycombe Away win
Luton v Dag & Red Home win
Morecambe v York Away win
Newport v Southend Home win
Northampton v Oxford Home win
Portsmouth v Stevenage Home win
Shrewsbury v Bury Away win
Tranmere v Mansfield Home win
Last time… 19 correct/45 predicted