MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at Tuesday’s Johnstone Paint Trophy area quarter-final ties in the search of a midweek winner or two.
Fleetwood v Sheffield United | Tuesday 19.45
Steven Pressley said he was devastated for his players as they bowed out of the first round of the FA Cup at the hands of Walsall on Saturday. George Evans’ long range strike and Anthony Forde’s clincher in stoppage time gave the Saddlers a 2-0 victory but the Cod Army boss was left frustrated.
After the game, Pressley said: “I’m devastated for the players because our work rate and endeavour at times was terrific. We came to the league leaders and I thought for the vast majority of the game dominated it”.
Town’s scoreless game made it just one goal in four outings now – a problem Pressley is desperate to solve quickly. Jamie Proctor, Jamille Matt and Declan McManus all missed chances to keep Town in the hat for the second round draw whilst David Ball, fresh from a Puskas award nomination, looking lively early on.
Despite the profligacy in front of goal, Fleetwood’s manager remains encouraged as the Cod Army turn their attention to Tuesday’s Football League Trophy tie with Sheffield United, saying: “The encouraging thing is, I’ve seen enough in this team to know we can be a really good team.
“We applied our press brilliantly, the three midfield players were brilliant in their work ethic. “Our control of the game was good.”
Eggert Jonsson, Antoni Sarcevic and Jimmy Ryan applied themselves well and Nick Haughton was a threat from the bench and Town remain a tough team to beat. They’re organised at the back, tough in midfield but just lack a cutting edge and somebody to turn pressure into the holy grail of goals.
This midweek they may get an opportunity or two to show their attacking teeth against the Blades. Nigel Adkins’ visitors eased past Worcester 3-0 on Saturday but have struggled for League One results (W11-D10-L10) on the road since the start of last season as well as clean sheets – just 6/31 (19%), including two in 22.
In the same spell, Fleetwood have W10-D12-L9 at Highbury and should fancy their chances of at least taking this game to penalties (there’s no extra-time). Looking at the shots-on-target trends for the third tier, United have only landed three more attempts on goal than Town this term whilst only five clubs have had more SOT than the Cod Army when hosting.
Purely going on league form, Fleetwood have avoided defeat in 71% of Highbury encounters over the past 31 fixtures whilst Sheffield United have failed to win 655% of their road trips. Going on those stats, the chances of a Sheffield United win should be around about 68%. If we turn that percentage chance into the equivalent odds, Fleetwood should be shorter than 1/2 to avoid defeat.
However, Bet365 are allowing us back the hosts with a +0.50 Asian Handicap at 31/40 – that’s 1.78 in decimals. And we’ll be paid out should the Cod Army draw or win on Tuesday night. I like it.
Barnsley v York | Tuesday 19.45
Barnsley are in turmoil. I’m not quite sure how Lee Johnson is still manager at Oakwell but following Saturday’s embarrassing FA Cup exit against Altrincham, it’s the club’s owner that’s offered to walk away. Johnson’s determined to fight on.
It’s seven league losses on the spin (and in eight in nine including all competitions) now for the Tykes – their worst run for 56 years – with the Yorkshire club winning only four League One matches, leaving them languishing in 22nd. Still, the 34-year-old emerged from a pitchside meeting with chairman Maurice Watkins and chief executive Ben Mansford unscathed on Saturday and lives to fight another day.
The former Oldham boss joined Barnsley in February on a three-and-a-half year contract and is well aware of the current grim plight at the club, saying: “I understand people want me gone. If I do stay – and I want to and believe I will – I know what we require.
“I have to take full responsibility and I do. It’s my place to make changes, whether that be changing personnel or rallying the troops. We have to put people out there that we believe will play for the badge on the front and not the name on the back.
“The whole club has to assess the way to move forward because there’s too many losing mentality characters around the place. There is a soft underbelly at the club at the moment so we need to shake it up somehow.
“We didn’t have enough (against Altrincham). It’s been no secret that we have been poor recently, and some of the players need to now look very deeply at how we’re going to turn this form around. More players need to be putting their bodies on the line. Too many are taking opportunities to go under at the moment.”
They’re pretty damming quotes, eh? Well, Barnsley have dipped into the transfer market to bring in former Reds winger Adam Hammill and Newcastle United youngster Ivan Toney on short-term deals to bolster their attacking options. Both players are immediately available for Tuesday night’s JPT clash with York.
The hosts have fired blanks in three of their Oakwell encounters in League One this season but they have notched in 11/15 (63%) of home fixtures under Johnson and I do expect them, with their new recruits, to grab a goal against the Minsterman.
However, Barnsley have kept just one clean sheet since August – a 15-match streak – that should allow York to join the goals party with a strike of their own. New visiting boss Jackie McNamara could not prevent the club from losing a third consecutive game for the first time since September, 2013 in their 3-2 loss at Accrington.
Defensive blunders have blighted City’s defence all season and they were on show again at the Crown Ground. The visitors have kept just one shutout in 12 themselves with nine of those games featuring Both Teams To Score winners. So that’s the angle I’ll take on Tuesday with William Hill chalking up the option at 10/11.
Looking over the JPT area quarter-finals across the past five seasons, there’s a strong trend in favour of goal-heavy games. The 40 matches are averaging 3.22 goals-per-game with at least half of all eight contests each year banking in the BTTS market so I’m hoping for a high-scoring clash between two out-of-form and increasingly desperate sides.
Fleetwood v Sheffield United – Fleetwood +0.50 Asian Handicap (31/40 Bet365)
Barnsley v York – Both Teams To Score (10/11 William Hill)
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