Barrow vs Grimsby | Tuesday 23rd March 2021, 19:00
Barrow despite sitting 21st in the league table, over the last eight games they are the 7th most in form side in the division based on expected points.
It’s a huge game for both sides but Barrow have won their previous four games to pull seven points clear from the relegation zone with two games in hand on 23rd-placed Southend.
At the weekend they deservedly ran out 3-2 winners over a decent Crawley outfit with Chris Taylor scoring the winner in the 96th minute. They dominated the game winning the xG 2.40 vs 0.94 whilst winning the shot count 15 vs 8 and shot on target 8 vs 2. I see no reason why they can’t carry on this good form on Tuesday night.
I am a little surprised that Barrow find themselves in the relegation scrap. I have them sitting 11th with expected home points and 16th on points per home game. I feel they are a better side than their league position suggests, and their home underlying metrics confirms this point of view.
Barrow have now picked up almost a third of their overall season points total in the last four games and have hit form at the perfect time, and I see no reason why this won’t continue against a Grimsby side that it incredibly poor, managed by an incredibly poor manager.
Since Paul Hurst took over as manager, they have P14-W1-D5-L8 scoring just eight goals and conceding 19. Their one win was over Crawley, but they were outplayed in the game and were lucky to secure the three points, losing the xG 0.59 vs 2.07.
Grimsby have not picked up a victory in any of their last seven games, but they have managed to find some consistency and have recorded four draws in succession. However, considering the current situation they find found themselves in, draws are not enough.
Grimsby need to start winning matches if they are to stand any chance of playing League Two football next season. The concern is that as soon as this team starts to open up and attack sides they will get picked off. A win here is a must as they sit 10 points behind Colchester and Barrow in 22nd place and 21st place. A win here for Barrow will put them 13 points clear of Grimsby with a game in hand with 10 games to go.
They have suffered defeats in 58% of their away games this season, failing to score in 53% and keeping the ball out of their own net on just two occasions, both 0-0 draws with Stevenage and Bolton in October, with leaves them 10 away games without a clean sheet.
Scoring goals as been an issue for the Mariners all season with just 0.82 goals scored on the road with just four sides having fewer shots on target and at the other end no side conceding more away goals with 1.76 per match.
Coupled with the fact that Barrow have only failed to score at home to Salford and recently to inform Bolton and 2nd placed Cambridge, I believe that Barrow will get on the score sheet and win this match and condemn Grimsby to an almost certain relegation.
Barrow to win at 1/1 with SBK.
Colchester vs Tranmere | Tuesday 23rd March 2021, 19:00
A game between two sides in very different form.
A dismal 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Port Vale at the weekend has left Colchester seven points above the bottom two with ten matches remaining. That is now one victory in their last 20 games, collecting 11 points from 60 available.
Its an awful run of form that has seen Steve Ball replaced by ex-player Wayne Brown. However, there has been very little difference with results under the new man in charge with P7-W1-D2-L4 scoring just two goals, both in the same match, a 2-1 victory over out of form Carlisle, conceding 10.
Last Saturday was a huge game as they played Vale, who started the day level on points with the U’s but one shot on target and a xG of just 0.32 highlights the issues they face. A massive return of just six goals in 17 matches with no goals in their last five games is another clear indication of the run of form that they are stuck in.
At home they have failed to register a xG greater than 1.0 in nine of their last ten matches, whilst managing just two shots on target from their last three home games.
The summer decisions to relieve head coach John McGreal of his duties and allow keys players Luke Prosser, Ryan Jackson and Frank Nouble, who at least has returned on loan, seem equally damaging. Then in January, the departure of attacking pair Luke Norris and Luke Gambin hasn’t helped the squad.
Confidence is low among the squad; that is plain to see. Interim boss Brown commented after the Vale game that the players needed to take the positives from the game and if they keep creating chances the goals would flow. I am really not sure what games he has been watching. They have been incredibly poor going forward.
To make matters worse it’s unlikely that Callum Harriot will play due to his international call up. He has eight goals and 4 assists to his name this season. Guess they will be relying on Frank Nouble to improve his return of one goal in ten games to stand any chance of winning the match.
Tranmere have been in fine form. Over the last 15 games no side in the division has taken more points than them with a record of P15-W8-D3-L4. They put up a fine performance against League One side Sunderland in the Papa Johns Final and then an excellent, hardworking win over Exeter at the weekend.
However, manager Keith Hill said after the game “The week that we've had, emotionally, mentally, physically – it's been a massive load. I'm really tired. Exhausted by watching that, so I can only contemplate and admire the effort from the players, because they must be really tired.”
Do Rovers have enough in them with a squad that has one or two older players in there to play Saturday and then again on Tuesday? I think they do. When you are winning and in form its always easier to go and play and the confidence the win over 8th-placed Exeter will give them should see them through this game against a side, as I have mentioned has no confidence and struggles for goals.
Despite missing James Vaughan with injury, Tranmere have done well recently. Over the last 8 games I have them 2nd on expected points, 4th for expected goals scored, 5th for fewest expected goals against and 3rd for the fewest shots in the box conceded. They aren’t playing like a side that is out on his feet and needs a rest.
I am going to be a little reserved here and take Tranmere on the -0.25AH which is still a good price of 1.95 with Bet365. A draw would see us return 50% of our stake and we would need Colchester to win to lose our stake completely and that’s happened their last 20 games.
Tranmere -0.25AH at 19/20 with Bet365.
Burton vs Shrewsbury | Tuesday 23rd March 2021, 19:00
It should be a good game as Burton host Shrewsbury with both sides slowly edging their way to safety. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has taken over at Burton for a 2nd time and has taken them clear of the relegation zone with a record of P14-W9-D1-L4 with just one defeat in their last eight games.
Before Hasselbaink arrived, Burton had claimed just 13 points but now sit on 41. It’s a remarkable turnaround and one that should keep them in League One next season.
However, of the 28 points recorded under Hasselbaink just nine have come at home with a record of P7-W3-D0-L4. They have failed to score in two of these matches – Sunderland and Ipswich. The game against Ipswich they had opportunities to score, creating a xG of 1.09 with 8 shots and then same happened with the Sunderland match with an even higher xG of 1.59 with 12 shots and eight on target.
We need to go as far back as early December to find a home game that Burton generated a xG lower than 1.0 and over the last four games they have an average of four shots on target per home match. They definitely have goals in them and over the course of the season, they have failed to score just three times at home.
The style of play that Burton now operates is all action and high pressing game and this is starting to take its toll on the players. There has been little squad rotation over the 14 games in charge and Hasselbaink has indicated that there will be changes for the game against Shrewsbury.
Michael Bostwick was missing at the weekend and they conceded two goals from set pieces which had he played they would have defended better. He is rated as 50/50 to play and will be a miss defensively if he doesn’t make it. We will have to wait and see if the changes anticipated helps or hinders the team, my guess is that it will hinder. Hasselbaink seems reluctant to make changes and maybe he doesn’t trust the other players.
Burton has kept just two clean sheets at home this season, both under Hasselbaink so defensively things have improved but with four defeats on their own patch, they may be better set up to play away from home.
Shrewsbury have been inconsistent over the last eight games with a record of W2-D4-L2. Yet they have scored in seven of these eight games keeping a clean sheet in just one – a 2-0 away win at struggling Rochdale.
They have now scored in 14 of their last 16 away games, which is quite remarkable as over those 16 games they have average just 2.625 shots on target with a total xG of 11.83 or 0.73 per game. Yet they have scored at Hull, Peterborough, Lincoln, Doncaster, Charlton and Ipswich
Before these eight games they had kept clean sheets in six of their previous nine games, but that good run has come to a halt.
The Shrews work incredibly hard all over the pitch. Aaron Wilbraham the Shrews Assistant manager said after the 1-1 draw with Hull at the weekend: “it’s testament to the lads, how hard they work, how much pressure they put teams under. No-one switches off, no-one doesn’t track a runner, everyone works hard for each other. You will always made it hard for teams like that.” They will put Burton under pressure and look for them to make mistakes and try to capitalize.
This should be a good game with watch with both sides playing in a similar way and I fancy goals here and I am going to take both teams to score. Burton have seen this land in 71% of their home games this term whilst Shrewsbury have seen this land in 47% but remember they have scored in 14 of their last 16 away games, so I am confident of them finding the net here.