Written by Andy Wood
The international break hasn’t affected the schedule of League Two teams all that much, but given the frequency of that early schedule simply not having a midweek game feels like an extended break from action. It’s back with another full schedule this weekend, with no more transfer distractions and midweek mayhem to serve as a distraction. It’s still too early in the season to really call the pattern of the season but there are still some interesting stories developing, and as always we should expect full blooded lower league action. Here are some of the most interesting fixtures ahead of the League Two weekend.
credit John Lord
Carlisle v Leyton Orient
It may well have gone under your radar but Carlisle are the only team in League Two to still have an unbeaten run going so far this season. Even so, their form hasn’t necessarily shouted out that they’re promotion contenders at this early stage – 2 wins and 4 draws suggests a solid outfit as opposed to high flyers. Even so, there’s good reason for Carlisle fans to be optimistic, given that results have already come against very good teams, holding Portsmouth to a draw at Fratton Park, taking Derby all the way in the cup and beating Plymouth. Their overall experience and resilience makes them difficult to beat and it will be no different on Saturday.
Once again, they face up against a tough opponent. Leyton Orient once again went into this season as early favourites and so far there’s been some good signs. Despite a slow start, they’ve gone on to win 3 of their 4 matches to push them up above Carlisle and into an early play off place, and on their day they have an excellent squad at this level. Harry Cornick and Gavin Massey give them direct, pacey options out wide complemented by Jordan Bowery’s presence up front. There was a major blow recently though with the club letting go of fan favourite Dean Cox- although ravaged by injury recently, dismissing of a player who’d given the club such excellent service will leave a bad taste at the club. But the new group are settling in and improving, and this should be an intriguing match up.
Morecambe v Doncaster
This is another case of relative surprise package meets pre-season favourite. Morecambe were tipped by a number of pundits and bookmakers to be struggling down the lower end of the table this season, yet they now sit second in the table after a fantastic early start. Their 4 match winning streak was ended by Leyton Orient over the weekend, but they can take positives out of the performance in a close match, as well as the fact that there was more than a slice of luck in the Orient goals. Long serving manager Jim Bentley has kept his usual organisation in the team and added some canny attacking options in Jack Dunn and Cole Stockton, aided by the form of the evergreen Kevin Ellison. With a new era beginning following a takeover from Brazilian investors, there could be exciting time ahead for Morecambe.
Doncaster came into this division as early favourites, with a strong squad and reputable manager behind them. Defeat to Crewe last weekend bought to an end a 4 match unbeaten run in the league and they’ll be hungry not to let momentum slip for too long. Away from home they’ve lost 3 out of 4 in all competitions so far, giving Darren Ferguson something to look at. There are form players in the team- most notably James Coppinger, who has just landed the Player of the Month award, whilst Andy Williams is a player who can always deliver in front of goal.
Both these teams will be keen to get back to winning ways and stay up the top of the league. Hopefully, rather than setting in for a cagey affair, we get two teams looking to make a statement.
credit Peter O’Connor
Stevenage v Crawley
It might not seem too obvious to include a match between two teams who fill mid-table positions after the first few games of the season, but this has the making of an interesting one. Primarily, this is because of Stevenage and their sensational 6-1 victory over Hartlepool last week. The interest stems from seeing where they go from there. After heavy defeats to Leyton Orient and Grimsby, the result came as something of a surprise based off their early season form but following on from it the team’s confidence will be sky high. The impact of two new strikers in Tyler Walker and Matthew Godden could turn out to be a major catalyst for the Stevenage season and they’ll be out for more goals this weekend.
Crawley are an interesting opposition to be facing them for the first time since the result. They started the season in good shape, playing solid football and picking up results, unbeaten for the first four matches of the season. The last couple of games have seen a slight derailing, with comfortable defeats to Notts County and Portsmouth. There’s been a fair few changes over the summer but now it’s time for the team to settle in and start finding some consistency, and no doubt they’ll be hungry to make amends for their last couple of matches. Given that Stevenage were beaten 5-2 in the game before their 6-1 win, they’ll know as well as anyone that it can be done.
With one team on a massive high and another team hungry to put things right, this might be a match that surprises a few people.
Do you think these games will be be the most interesting in League Two? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by John Lord