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Football League Preview – 18th September

This weekend sees another full slate of football in the Championship, League One and League Two. With managers aware that a couple of victories can propel your club upwards, we focus on some of the best of the action below, including two teams whose owners are under pressure. We also pick out a 10/1 accumulator for you to consider.

Huddersfield Town v Nottingham Forest – Each club is looking upwards, but for different reasons

Credit: Agona Sports

What a week it’s been for Forest fans. Back-to-back losses against promotion-chasing Cardiff and Middlesbrough, followed by the removal of manager Chris Hughton. To say the fans are disenchanted with the owner of the club, Evangelos Marinakis, is a gross-understatement. Marinakis, who also owns Olympiakos took over in 2017, and has largely removed all methods, to hold him accountable during his tenure. Shady characters abound at the City Ground, with Ioannis Vrentzos role particularly unclear, having been replaced as CEO, but retaining a senior role both on the Board and in the club’s official papers.

Against this backdrop, Nottingham Forest travel up the M1 rooted to the bottom of the table, and yet to record their first victory. The sacking of Hughton feels premature, results in August hadn’t reflected the performances on the pitch. Mistakes have been common in defence however, which is uncharacteristic of his teams. While the team are creating chances, the quality of their football has not been at the level required to affect the final score.

It’s still early in the season, however Huddersfield will be looking to retain their top six spot having outperformed themselves in their games to-date. Carlos Corberan’s side have only lost to table-toppers Fulham and play-off challengers Stoke so far, and they face an interesting task on Saturday against Nottingham Forest. 

The Terriers will look towards our one-to-watch Sorba Thomas if they wish to make it five wins from eight. Ever-present Thomas has crossed the ball a staggering 45 times this season, holding four assists and a goal coming into this game. Sorba’s high point being a man-of-the-match performance in the teams last home match against Reading in his last match. It’s hard to believe he was playing for Boreham Wood less than a year ago, and should go from strength-to-strength this season.

It’s hard to see how this one goes any other way than a Huddersfield victory.

Verdict: Huddersfield 2-0 Nottingham Forest

Best Bet: Huddersfield to win at 23/20

Accrington Stanley v Wigan Athletic – League One’s top of the table clash

Credit: Accrington Stanley

Accrington Stanley are a club who continue their steady progression having built themselves up through modest means, their record transfer fee is £144k, and has not been broken in thirteen years. One of the surprise packages in the Football League this season, Stanley have followed up last season’s 11th place finish by defying the odds once more. They are a youthful side with John Coleman at the helm, in his 10th year at the club across two spells. Each of their victories have been by a single goal this season, and they tend to grind out victories rather than overpowering their opposition or retaining possession for long periods.

Stanley are seeking to bounce back from a loss to league leaders Sunderland, against second-place Wigan. The Latics success has been built on a stern defence, with three clean sheets to date, and is testament to their defence that goalkeeper Ben Amos has only faced an average of two shots on target per game this term.  Our one-to-watch is defensive midfielder Tom Naylor, a summer signing from Portsmouth who has broken up opposition moves through a combination of well-timed tackles and interceptions on a regular basis. Whilst others have stolen the headlines Naylor has quietly put Wigan on track for a successful season that should see the vying for automatic promotion throughout the campaign.

Verdict: Accrington 0-1 Wigan

Best Bet: Wigan to win to nil – 10/3

Oldham Athletic v Hartlepool United – First home win or first away win?

Credit: Oldham Chronicle

Oldham’s 21/22 season has been defined off of the pitch, despite their struggles on it. Vociferous protests have rung across Boundary Park against the club’s owner, Abdallah Lemsagam. Successive managers have reported interference in team affairs, signings being made without their knowledge, and wages have been unpaid at times. In just over three years, there have been eight managers and a huge turnover of playing staff. Fans have boycotted games and when they have attended there have been pitch invasions. A recent EFL cup game was delayed as flares and tennis balls were thrown on the pitch.

It is unsurprising therefore that the club is without a home point this season, and is in danger of dropping out of the Football League. In terms of their play on the pitch, the Latics have demonstrated they are comfortable in possession of the football, dominating some matches, but they have failed to create regular chances inside the box. They have also been picked off by opposing teams on the counter.

Hartlepool, by comparison, lie 5th in the League Table, which is remarkable for a team who have yet to gain a single point away from home. Their Home form is P4 W4 GF6 GA1; Away form is P3 L3 GF2 GA5. They should have won their recent away match against Tranmere, accruing sixteen shots, but a combination of poor accuracy and a late goal took the game from them. Hartlepool striker Will Goodwin is our one-to-watch in this game, a 19-year-old loanee from Stoke City. Goodwin is improving with every game at the club and I feel he will soon add to his solitary goal this season, and he is also comfortable creating chances for others.

Verdict: Oldham 0-1 Hartlepool

Best Bet: Hartlepool to win – 13/10

Combine all three of our predictions into an Accumulator: Huddersfield, Wigan and Hartlepool – 10/1

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