Oxford vs Crewe | Tuesday 17th August 2021, 19:45
Oxford have started the season well collecting four points from their two games – they should have beaten Cambridge in their opening outing, winning the xG 1.68 versus 1.15 with their opponents scoring with their only attempt on-target.
The Yellows followed this up with an impressive display at home to Charlton, registering 2.08 xG with 11 shots and five on-target – defeat against United was only the second in 10 games under manager Nigel Adkins for the Addicks. First-half goals from Ryan Williams and Cameron Brannagan saw Oxford race into a 2-0 lead, and despite the visitors pressure, they held out for the win.
Manager Karl Robinson was pleased with his sides performance “We dominated most parts and I thought we passed it well, we created chance after chance after chance. In all aspects of the game, we were brilliant and it’s a fantastic win.”
Although early in the season, Oxford sit third on xP, second for non-penalty xG and top of the table for non-penalty xGA, with both the goals they have conceded coming from the penalty spot. On Tuesday they face Crewe who have struggled so far and last term this is the type of game that Oxford loved.
Oxford struggled against the better sides in the division in 2020/21 and eventually this was their undoing in the play-offs, but at home against bottom half sides their record was W11-D0-L2, scoring Over 1.5 Goals in 10 of these games.
Crewe have lost a few key players, including Charlie Kirk last week to Charlton. So far this term they have earned a 1-1 draw at home to Cheltenham, a game in which they maybe should have been beaten, losing the xG 1.03 vs 0.51, scoring with their only effort on-target, conceding 10 shots with four on-target, before being comfortably beaten at Portsmouth.
Only Lincoln and Accrington have conceded more shots in their two games than Alex thus far and only Lincoln have conceded more shots on target. On xP from two games I have Crewe bottom of the pile.
Owen Dale, a key performer for the Alex, came off just before half-time on Saturday due to illness and must be considered a doubt for the midweek clash, and this is a squad already short on numbers.
Last season Crewe held a dire record against sides finishing in the top half (W3-D6-L13) and away it was W1-D2-L8. Unfortunately, I think the hosts will be too strong for them here – Oxford to win the match at 10/11 with Skybet is my first play.
Lincoln vs Bolton | Tuesday 17th August 2021, 19:45
Staying in League One, I am happy to take the goals angle with Lincoln and Bolton.
Newly-promoted Bolton have seen 12 goals in two games so far with two 3-3 draws with MK Dons and Wimbledon. So far in League One, the Trotters have the highest non-penalty xG with 3.34 with an average of 1.80 per-game whilst conceding 1.3 xGA.
Whilst Bolton are a team full of attacking quality with Eoin Doyle, Oladapo Afolayan, Antonio Sarcevic and Amadou Bakayoko whilst Josh Sheehan offers another avenue sat deeper, there is a lot to like about this team. At the back they are a side making plenty of mistakes.
Speaking after the weekend’s games, Ian Evatt said: “I think we are a full tilt team, and we play with intensity with and without the ball and the way we attacked and then counter attacked today – their managers said to me ‘wow, what a team you are going forwards’. I know we’ve got very good defenders as well, so at the moment we’ve just got to learn from our mistakes and balance it out.”
Bolton have lost three times since January so they are always going to put up a fight to keep that run going and I think they will cause Lincoln problems. Only three sides have taken more shots and five teams have had more shots on-target. Whilst defensively Bolton sit in the top six for shots conceded and only 25% of opposition shots on-target have been saved. It's hard not to expect goals at both ends here.
Lincoln are rebuilding following play-off heartbreak last season and the loss of a few key players, but they have recruited well and I would expect them to be in and around the top-six again. They have started the season with a 1-1 draw at Gillingham and a 2-1 victory of Fleetwood. Both of the games have been open with 10 and nine shots on-target between the two sides in each game.
So far Lincoln have generated a xG of 1.6 per-game and conceded 0.7 xGA, but this doesn’t tell the story. No side has conceded more shots or shots on-target than the Imps with 85% of shots on-target conceded have been saved, I would suggest that this is unsustainable.
Across the Imps squad there are players that don’t look fully fit with several players missing parts of pre-season due to injuries, which means that currently players, especially at the back where individuals are lacking sharpness and playing misplaced passes.
This should be a good game with both sides happy to attack and therefore I am keen to take on the goal line. We can pick up Over 2.25 Goals at 3/4 (Marathon) and this looks good value. If there are just two goals scored, we will get 50% of our stake back, meaning if there are three or more we get paid out in full.
Four games between the two teams, all four have seen both teams score and 75% of have seen Over 2.5 Goals with an average of 4.25 goals scored in matches involving both sides this season.
Colchester vs Mansfield | Tuesday 17th August 2021, 19:45
My last bet is in League Two where the ex-Ipswich team are now playing for Colchester. I thought they would do well with the likes of Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse, Alan Judge, Tommy Smith, and Frank Nouble in their ranks, but the Essex outfit are finding it hard to adjust.
Colchester have only conceded one goal but have allowed Northampton to generate 1.99 xG and Carlisle 2.09 xG, whilst keeper Dean Gerken has saved 89% of shots on-target conceded. This is unsustainable and last season he saved 69% of shots on-target conceded. Only four clubs have a higher xGA at this point of the season.
Given the average age of 27.8, the fourth-highest in the league it will be interesting to see how some of these players fare with two games in four days. I would imagine there will be changes in the home starting XI to accommodate tired legs, but Colchester's squad isn’t huge so players like Skuke and Judge might be asked to go again on Tuesday.
Given the high turnover of players in the summer there might be an element of players finding their feet and adjusting to playing with each other. However, facing Forest Green won’t be the best game for more ‘gelling' among the United sides.
Only six sides have conceded more shots than the Us, and with an average of 4.5 shots on-target conceded, this is well above the mean for League Two. So far I have them third-bottom on xP.
Mansfield have one of the best squads in the league and have started the season well with two wins from two and also top on xP. Two home wins on the spin against well-fancied Bristol Rovers, who started the season as the bookies third favourites for the title and Newport (last term's beaten play-off finalists). The Stags did edge a tight game against Newport but were worthy winners against Rovers.
I like their transfer dealings in the summer with the captures of Oli Hawkins from Ipswich, Stephen Quinn from Burton and Danny Johnson from Orient.
There is always pressure on Mansfield to perform and clinch promotion given the money that has been invested but Nigel Clough has done well since coming in and could be the man to get them over the line. After a tricky start he has now lost just twice in 14 games, winning six of their last seven league games between this term and last.
Clough will make them hard to beat with just 18 goals conceded in 20 games now for Mansfield and I am not sure Colchester will be able to do enough to beat them. We can take 10/13 with MansionBet on Mansfield draw no bet, which I am happy to take on.