Football League: Six forwards set for a purple patch

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IT'S been a great time for EFL front-men recently, with George Pușcaș, Conor Chaplin and Jordan Rhodes bagging hat-tricks and Eoin Doyle scoring in nine consecutive games, so Gab Sutton (@_FootbalLab) looks at other forwards who could begin to find form.

Harry Cornick

Although Luton lost 2-1 at Preston North End on Saturday, fans and manager Graeme Jones could take a lot of positives from the performance – especially the impact of Harry Cornick.

After replacing Callum McManaman, Cornick opened the game up with his running power, canny movement and work ethic.

The forward was unable to convert from a key one-on-one chance with the game level, but that opportunity shows that he is getting kind of moments in which a bit more composure next time out could yield a favourable result.

Cornick has already scored five goals this season and has surely earnt another appearance for forthcoming hostings of Swansea and Fulham – both are typically possession-based sides, so the 25-year-old may get his opportunities to threaten in transition.

Jacob Brown

New Barnsley manager Gerhard Struber has gravitated towards a diamond system, similar stylistically to that of Liverpool.

Cauley Woodrow, a striker by trade, drops deep in possession to link up with the midfield while Jacob Brown and Conor Chaplin, wide forwards by trade, quickly become the front two most likely to break into immediate goalscoring positions.

That setup is certainly working for Chaplin, who has scored six goals in his last six outings including a hat-trick in Saturday’s 5-3 victory over QPR; he will therefore be available at slim quotes in goalscorer markets.

A less obvious pick, perhaps, would be Jacob Brown who, with so much athleticism and running power, often leads the press and had an excellent game last time out.

He is heavily involved in Barnsley’s final third play, he has delivered five assists in six games when fielded as a striker – rather than a right-winger – and, having hit the woodwork in the recent 3-2 loss at Blackburn, may soon add to his solitary goal.

Brandon Hanlan

Hanlan was named Gillingham’s Young Player of the Year last season, when his contributions went under the radar slightly due to the form of his strike-partner, Tom Eaves.

The 22-year-old is clearly at his best when playing alongside a tall striker capable of winning aerial duels, especially in a Steve Evans side.

That may be partly why Hanlan toiled slightly as the lone striker early in the season, when flanked by Mark Marshall or Mikael Ndjoli and Alex Jakubiak.

More recently, though, he has been paired with Mikael Mandron, whose physical presence has allowed Hanlan to play more off the cuff in a way that suits him.

The Charlton academy graduate averages 1.9 shots in the penalty area per 90 minutes, the joint-eighth most out of League One strikers who have made a double-figured number of appearances this term, so he should soon increase his return of two goals.

Dion Charles

With Billy Kee unavailable so far this season and Courtney Baker-Richardson sidelined for long spells, Stanley have had to rely on strikers who, hitherto 2019-20, are relatively unproven at this level.

Offrande Zanzala, an inconsistent speed merchant, is the only available front-man who entered this season with any EFL experience.

Luckily for the low-budgeted Lancastrians, John Coleman and Jimmy Bell maintained their unerring capacity for finding rough gems from the non-league market.

One of those strikers is Colby Bishop, who is one of just six League One players to achieve a double-figured number of goals this term – he could easily have added to that tally, too, with the chances he had during a late-Autumn dry patch.

The other forward is Dion Charles, who has done a very important job for the team in terms of hassling and harrying from the front, thus creating the spaces from which Bishop can finish.

Charles though is more than capable of adding to his own individual tally of four goals, because he makes some brave runs.

Kurtis Guthrie

Given the imperious form with which Guthrie finished the 2018-19 campaign – seven goals in his last six that term – it seems surprising that he has only scored five goals to date this year, with his performance in October’s 2-1 win over Grimsby being the only real stand-out.

Then again, the striker’s pre-season may have been disrupted slightly by paternal leave – and perhaps the inevitable sleepless nights might explain why he has been caught napping when faced with open goals!

Guthrie is, at least, sufficiently alert to get into those goalscoring areas; the former Colchester striker averages 2.1 penalty box shots per game, which is the joint-third most in the division.

End a six-game cold streak and the rest will be like taking candy from a baby.

Josh Gordon

Like Stevenage, Walsall are among League Two’s lowest goalscorers – the Saddlers have found the net just 16 times in 21 league games.

Josh Gordon, though, is showing signs of getting closer to the League One form he found in the second half of last season, when he scored seven goals after Christmas.

The former Leicester Under-21s forward bagged a hat-trick in the 6-0 EFL Trophy victory over Forest Green and averages two penalty area shots per game, the joint-fifth most in League Two.

It seems highly unlikely that Gordon will be on two goals for the season for long and it would be wise to get him onside now, while the Anytime and FGS prices remain favourable.

Best Bets

Luton v Swansea: Harry Cornick to score last (8/1 Royal Panda)

Millwall v Barnsley: Jacob Brown to score at anytime (9/2 VBet)

Gillingham v MK Dons: Brandon Hanlan to score at anytime (21/10 RoyalPanda)

Doncaster v Accrington: Dion Charles to score first (8/1 Bet365)

Stevenage v Crewe: Kurtis Guthrie to score at anytime (8/5 VBet)

Exeter v Walsall: Josh Gordon to score at anytime (3/1 Bet365)

About Author

Gabriel Sutton is a freelance football writer and pundit with a strong passion for the EFL, possessing eight years of writing experience. Sees the value in lower league football.

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