Two of the bottom-three in League One meet this weekend as Southend and AFC Wimbledon take to the field, with both earning one solitary league victory all season. In the case of The Dons, that came last time out versus Rochdale, and they won in the EFL Trophy during the week as well. With confidence high, they’ll be hopeful of a third-straight victory, and the fact they’re favourites reflects on Southend’s state at present. However, six straight league losses this season tempers enthusiasm on backing this weekend’s visitors too strongly. The numbers however suggest that this should contain goals; over 2.5 to be precise. That is because these two teams are part of only seven in the league to have seen an average goals per game over 3.00. Games involving Southend saw 7/11 and AFC Wimbledon 9/12 finish over 2.5 goals. Whilst they both concede plenty, this is certainly a game both will target maximum points from. This would be a bottom-two encounter if it wasn’t for Bolton’s off-field issues, but AFCW has seen all six of their away league contests where both teams have scored, meaning there should be a goal or two in this one.
If goals are your thing then you are probably paying quite close attention to Oxford at this moment in time. Karl Robinson’s look to have turned the corner following a tricky second part of August, but they they’re now unbeaten in their last five league fixtures. Their last four victories read 3-0, 6-0, 4-0 and 3-0, with one of those being over Premier League side West Ham in the Carabao Cup. They did draw at Accrington last weekend and lost on penalties to Portsmouth in the EFL Trophy in midweek, but confidence won’t have been drained. Doncaster on the flip side have won just one of their last six, although that did come against in-form Peterborough. There is a good statistic which does connect both of these sides however and that is both teams to score, which has to be the play this weekend. Oxford have seen 7/12 of their league games result in BTTS whilst for Doncaster 70% of their league encounters have done so, too. Only a handful of other clubs in the division have seen more, so goals again look to be on the agenda on Saturday.
Much was expected of both Swindon and Plymouth before a ball was kicked in League Two this season but they have endured an up-and-down start to the campaign, for sure. Swindon may find themselves in a play-off position but they’ve lost three of their last four league clashes. Plymouth are rooted in mid-table with a won four, drew four and lost four record, but Ryan Lowe did add many new faces to the group, as well as his appointment, so time was likely for them to be at their best. This is certainly an attractive-looking game between two teams that ‘play the right way’ and also always play to win. These are actually two of the higher scoring sides in the league with 19 and 17 respectively, only four short of top scorers Cheltenham. The numbers do point towards this being quite a high-scoring affair on Saturday, as well. Why? Well, both have an identical record after 12 league games in relation to seven of those finishing over 2.5 goals. Although both have seen quite a few of late finish under 2.5, with this being two teams that will ‘have a go’ then I do think we can risk the overs with good reason. Swindon’s home league matches are averaging 3.00, which again highlights their front-foot mentality, but winning three and losing three at home proves that they don’t always get rewarded for this.
The top-two in League One square-off this weekend as Exeter City entertain Forest Green Rovers. Both have enjoyed excellent starts to the season, losing only three of 24 games between them so far. It would be fair to say Forest Green have reached the top of the standings as a result of their superb defensive record. They’ve conceded only six times in 12 games, which is most impressive. They’ve scored 14, which is fewer than three clubs in the bottom-half. Five of their seven victories have been 1-0. Exeter have dipped in more recent times, winning one of their last five in the league. They’re a team which look like they’ll go through runs, as they did go three without a win before a run of four consecutive victories a little earlier in the season. These are two evenly-matched sides and I can only see a low-scoring affair. The numbers back that up as well as only seven of their 24 games combined witnessed over 2.5 goals. Both are averaging goals numbers below this figure, as well. Under 2.5 goals is the call and the fact this is a top-two battle increases optimism of this paying out knowing there is quite a bit at stake, even at this stage of the campaign.
There was a midweek National League card to take every team to 16 games and the league looks as open as it has been for a long, long time. With not one team likely to run away with things, it means those towards the bottom, even though it may appear unlikely, still has a shot of making up ground to contest the promotion places with a few results. Barrow are just the definition of momentum at this moment in time considering they’re on a seven-game winning streak. They’ve also scored at least twice in all of them, and at least three in four. Dover are looking to bounce back after a slightly surprising 4-0 setback away to Aldershot on Tuesday night. They may be four spots off the play-offs, but only on goal difference, which again highlights what this league is like at the moment. Looking ahead to Saturday, this game does strike goals to me, specifically over 2.5. 12 of Barrow’s 16 games have done so; the joint-most in the league, whilst 10/16 of Dover’s has, as well. Whilst Barrow tend to play more openly away compared to home, both are still experiencing many higher-scoring contests of late and we’d be a little unlucky if this was to finish under.