The international break this weekend gives both Leagues One and Two the chance to take centre stage, in the absence of all Championship football.
As always, we take a look at the key talking points heading into this round of fixtures, and also where the talking points may lie after the conclusion of the matches.
Wimbledon to finally win first ever third tier game?
Wimbledon’s rise to England’s third tier of football has been nothing short of a fairytale, but their start to the season has been somewhat more a nightmare, with the club still searching for their first three points, and currently sat rock bottom of League One.
Despite the table not showing any promise for the Dons, there has been an upturn in form in the last couple of weeks. Three losses in a row was the worst start the club could have imagined possible, but two draws against solid opposition in Northampton Town and Rochdale, added to the mid-week 3-0 hammering of Swansea City’s under 23’s in the Checkatrade Trophy, point towards a turn in fortunes, and leads them nicely into this weekend’s game.
There’s no doubting that it was the home form that was key to the Dons success in League Two last term, and despite having lost their twice in the League already, both results were down to lapses in concentration, rather than Bolton and Scunthorpe outclassing from the off. Saturday’s opponents, Chesterfield, started the season in contrasting manner to the Wombles, having sat top after three games, but two losses on the bounce for the Spireites will leave the Dons fans hopeful that this weekend will kick start their season.
Will Northampton ever lose a game again?
As far as convincing title wins go, Northampton will have been up there last season, and the Cobblers arguably had it in the bag as early as mid-February. The only downer was the amount of games they drew – especially towards the end of the campaign, which saw them draw seven times in the last thirteen League Two games. That drawing mentality seems to have come forward into the current season, having already drawn all five of their matches. The positive to that record, is they are incredibly hard to beat. The negative, is that they are failing to put teams to bed when really, they should.
The Cobblers are unbeaten in 2016, and you’d have to go as far back as the 19th December 2015 to find that last loss. A total of league 29 games unbeaten, but the frustration for the fans is their lack of cutting edge. Their incredible run has left fans wondering if they’re ever actually going to lose again, but the worry at the moment may be – will they ever win again?
Northampton will go in search of their first League victory of the season this weekend, when they face MK Dons at home. MK were hit hard by a season-long injury to centre back Scott Wootton this week, but will provide the Cobblers with another tough test. If you’re a betting man/woman, put your house on a draw, though.
How far can Morecambe go?
After five games, Morecambe would have been fancied to be struggling towards the bottom of League Two, but what has transpired has left Shrimps fans feeling more and more optimistic that a fairy-tale season could be on the cards. Top of the league on twelve points, ahead of some big hitters at that level, the team showed all signs of one that can go far by overturning a 2-0 deficit in last weekend’s match with Accrington Stanley, a game they went on to win 3-2.
There was room for more optimism this week when the Shrimps announced that Brazilian businessman Diego Lemos had acquired a majority shareholding in the club, leaving fans wondering whether they were about to become a League Two Monaco.
Leyton Orient, on the back of releasing club stalwart Dean Cox on Thursday, are the team that will be looking to undo the Shrimps incredible start. With home advantage not in Orient’s favour, the odds of Morecambe extending their incredible are certainly to their preference.
The question is, just how far can this squad go?
Mid-week win to kick Cambridge United into gear
Having finished the 2015/16 season just two places out of the Play Offs, the club and fans will have been hoping to dust themselves down and have another crack at it this year. There’s nothing to say that, that won’t still happen, after all we are only five games in, but with United sat bottom of League Two on a measly two points, it certainly doesn’t look like that will be the primary objective right now.
A mid-week 1-0 win away at League One Shrewsbury will definitely give the players and fans belief going into the weekend, but with the next three fixtures looking something like this – Mansfield, Plymouth and Morecambe – the U’s couldn’t have picked a worse time to try and pick up their first win, with all three sides currently sat in the top 7.
Towards the backend of last season United actually beat Morecambe 7-0, and they drew with Saturday’s opponents, Mansfield, on the final day of the season. Right now, four points from nine would probably be a decent return considering the level of opposition, but realistically anything less than six will probably leave them in the bottom two.
Wimbledon to capitalise on their mini-run of form, and to win their first match in League One emphatically – 3-0 win 22/1 with Paddy Power.
Northampton to continue their incredible unbeaten run, but to fail to win once more – The draw is 11/4 with Betfair.
Morecambe to keep marching on, but to concede a goal in the process. Shrimps win BTTS 5/1 with William Hill.