Written by Andy Wood
The League Two season took another big shift last weekend, with Plymouth and Portsmouth staking their claim as early front-runners with impressive victories to take them to the top of the league. It’s another full schedule this weekend and the fixtures are sure to be hotly contested. Here are the 3 of the matches that should be amongst the most interesting:
credit Matthew Wilkinson
Exeter v Plymouth
There’s an obvious standout fixture in this weekend’s schedule, with the first ‘Devon Derby’ of the season set to take place. As with any good derby it’s based upon a fierce local rivalry between two good teams and a passionate set of supporters, and this year there’s even more going on to add interest to the match.
The spotlight here will heavily be on striker Reuben Reid, after what was a sensational summer on his part. For those who aren’t aware, Reid has been an integral forward for Plymouth over the past couple of seasons and has been one of the division’s top scoring strikers during this period. He turned down the chance to extend his stay at Home Park over the summer, with lots of rumours circulating that he would make a move up to League 1 level. It turned out to be a protracted summer for him though, worries about his fitness levels towards the end of last season presumably contributed to less clubs than expected seeking his services. Ultimately he ended up the one place no one would have expected – Plymouth’s fierce local rivals. Needless to say the ovation from travelling Pilgrims on Saturday could be less than flattering.
Individual’s aside, this game will have extra importance to Plymouth given that they are now at the top of the league following last weekend’s victory. After a turbulent summer with a high level of player turnover, they’ve managed to settle very quickly and have asserted their reputation as pre-season favourites. Derek Adams has been rewarded with a long term contract having previously guided the team to the Play-offs and he’ll certainly be optimistic about the future at Home Park.
credit Kevin Neagle
Doncaster v Newport
Doncaster came into this campaign as one the favourites for promotion and on the whole they’ve got off to a good start, taking 13 points from 7 matches and taking an early place in the play-offs. Last week I highlighted their match against Morecambe as one to watch given both those team’s impressive openings and it certainly turned out to be an eventful one. Doncaster ultimately romped to a 5-1 victory away from home to make a major statement about their credentials. They’re back at home this weekend and this will be a welcome feature for them, seeing as how they remain unbeaten at the Keepmoat so far this season. With this sort of form behind them it’s definitely going to be interesting to see if they can continue to live up to early expectations.
Their opponents, Newport, don’t currently have the same level of appeal this season following an inconspicuous start to their own campaign, taking only 6 points from 6 opening league games. That being said they have managed to work an under the radar run of 3 unbeaten matches, with successive draws in all those matches. There’s no doubt they can cause Doncaster problems, as they have plenty of good attacking options. Jon Parkin remains a physical threat at this level, as evidenced by last week’s brace, with the likes of Marlon Jackson, Jennison Myrie-Williams and Jack Compton providing adequate wing support. Their main worry will be how a leaky defence can cope vs a confident and capable Doncaster front line.
Grimsby v Crewe
It’s not everyday that this fixture is highlighted as one to watch but it seems like this could be a decent clash between two dark horses this year. Crewe have made an understated start to this season and already take up a play-off place. They come into this one on the back of two successive home victories, against impressive opposition in Doncaster and Exeter. They have the makings of a very decent outfit, combining two experienced forwards in Ryan Lowe and Chris Dagnall with exciting young midfielders in George Cooper and Alex Kiwomya, giving them a potent attacking threat.
Then again, Grimsby know a thing or two about attacking presences. On a 3 match unbeaten run themselves, including a highly impressive win away to Luton last weekend, they’ve been helped massively by the presence of Omar Bogle who stormed to the top of the scoring chart with two more strikes in that match. Whenever a striker is in the form he is then it’s a dangerous proposition. Both these teams could well feature high up the league come the end of the campaign and how they fair up in what should be a close encounter will be intriguing.
What are your predictions for these games? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Matthew Wilkinson