Hull vs Crewe | Saturday 19th September 2020, 15:00
Two divisions separated Hull and Crewe last season and the gulf in class could tell at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday – the Tigers look too big to turn down at even-money (Matchbook) following their fine opening day 2-0 victory at Gillingham last weekend.
The Humbersiders sank like a stone during their dreadful Championship relegation in 2020, losing 16 of their final 20 games and suffering an astonishing 8-0 defeat at Wigan. But Grant McCann’s men have made some impressive signings in the transfer market and continued their rebuilding process with a dominant display at the Priestfield Stadium.
Hull won the shot count 16-5 at Gillingham and restricted the Kent hosts to a solitary strike on-target. The Tigers followed up their victory by ousting a much-changed Leeds team in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night with an energetic and tenacious performance that forced the Premier League club into plenty of mistakes.
A dark cloud might still hang over the KCOM but the mood is slowly shifting as Hull begin to taste that winning feeling once more and City could prove too much for newly-promoted Crewe here. The League Two runners-up were beaten 2-0 at home by Charlton at Gresty Road in their curtain-raiser and might take time to find their feet after the long lay-off.
The Alex were caught out on the counter-attack for the opening goal and boss David Artell’s admitted the Railwaymen needed to be better in both boxes if they’re to compete at this level. Considering Crewe only registered two triumphs in 11 meetings against top-eight counterparts last term (W2-D4-L5), I’m happy to oppose the newcomers on the road.
Morecambe vs Cambridge | Saturday 19th September 2020, 15:00
Perennial relegation favourites Morecambe have finished 18th or lower in each of their past five campaigns and were 22nd before COVID-19 halted League Two proceedings in March. Nevertheless, the Shrimps have arguably enjoyed one of their most promising off-seasons in years and have kicked-off the 2020/21 in fine style, unbeaten in four fixtures.
Derek Adams’ arrival in the managerial hot-seat last November was considered a real coup for the coastal club; the demanding Scot steered Morecambe clear of immediate danger and has quickly set about building a squad capable of not just surviving, but thriving, in the Shrimps’ 14th consecutive campaign at this level.
The fruits of his labour were easy to see as Morecambe came from behind to turn over well-fancied Cheltenham last weekend in their opening league outing. The visitors had started slowly but soon found their range and rhythm in the second period, putting the Robins under plenty of pressure before striking twice in the final 12 minutes at Whaddon Road.
Carlos Mendes Gomes might hog the headlines in attack but the Shrimps’ midfield is a match for most at this level with Toumani Diagouraga and Ben Pringle providing the platform for the Lancastrians. And so Morecambe appear underrated by the markets this weekend with 4/5 (Red Zone) quotes available on the hosts in the Draw No Bet market.
Cambridge are the visitors and the U’s 3-0 success against Carlisle wasn’t quite as convincing as the final score suggested. Mark Bonner’s side scored with three of their five attempts at goal, losing the shot count 5-18. United followed it up in midweek with a 1-0 loss against Newport in the EFL Cup as they conceded another 29 shots, managing a measly six in reply.
Key component Liam O’Neill was forced off midway through the first half in the Carlisle victory and missed Tuesday’s trip to Wales. The midfielder is one of a number of players that Bonner has suggested “are a bit beaten and battered” ahead of the long trip north and I’m happy to oppose Cambridge at the prices on Saturday.
Carlisle vs Southend | Saturday 19th September 2020, 15:00
It’s been a desperately sad week for fans of lower league football with the demise of Macclesfield. Sadly, the warning signs were there from the outset after the Bury debacle and it’s unlikely to be the last saga that ends in heartbreak.
Southend are arguably next in line with the club in dire straits on and off the field. The Shrimpers were relegated from League One last season having recorded a paltry 19 points from 35 league fixtures and the cash-strapped Essex club look prime candidates for another battle against the drop.
The Blues were smashed 4-0 at home to newly-promoted Harrogate last weekend, a match described by new boss Mark Molesley as “men against boys”. Under a transfer embargo, incomings have been minimal and Southend were forced to field their youngest starting XI in history in that Harrogate humbling at Roots Hall.
The club’s sheer existence is under threat and with seven starters under the age of 23, it’s difficult to see the Shrimpers arresting their worrying decline in the coming weeks, starting with the long trip to Carlisle on Saturday. Opposing the beleaguered guests appeal with Carlisle too good to turn down 21/20 (Betway) alongside Over 1.5 Goals.
The Cumbrians have seen plenty of cash in the past few days and look likely to go off close to 4/6 quotes considering Southend’s plight. The hosts will have 1,000 fans inside Brunton Park as part of the EFL’s pilot scheme and the feel-good factor could help push Carlisle on following a summer of rebuilding under manager Chris Beech.
The Beech boys were beaten 3-0 at Cambridge last week but as mentioned above, the scoreline was harsh in review – Carlisle conceded three goals from only five attempts at goal. The hosts are confident in having influential centre-half Aaron Hayden available and midfielder Dean Furman is also fit enough to return after missing the Cambridge defeat.
Southend have strengthened with Thursday’s additions of veteran Alan McCormack and striker Simeon Akinola but neither are likely to be up to speed if involved on Saturday and so the visitors are easily opposed.