Burnley to beat Yeovil
Surprisingly Burnley occupy a spot in the top two halfway through the season, a feat that didn’t seem possible before the season kicked off, with the bookies heavily favouring the likes of QPR, Forest, and Leicester.
However, Sean Dyche has done a magnificent job in the Turf Moor hotseat, and the men in claret and blue continue to surprise people by remaining in the promotion shake-up. The Lancashire club have stuttered slightly of late, but they remain in the top two, as teams around them have also been dropping points.
On Saturday they make the monumental trek south to face Yeovil at Huish Park, a side who, as expected, find themselves in a relegation dogfight.
Gary Johnson’s men sit 23rd in the Championship table, having collected 17 points from 23 games. Town have lost in their previous three Championship outings, and are without a win in five, leaving them four points adrift of safety. Their leaky defence have conceded eight goals in their last two matches, so they won’t relish coming up against the Football League’s most prolific strike pairing, Danny Ings and Sam Vokes, who have bagged 31 goals in all competitions.
Burnley’s recent form is understandably not as breath-taking as their exploits at the beginning of the season, but they’ll feel that they have a great chance of leaving Somerset with all three points.
Last meeting: Burnley 2-0 Yeovil (Treacy 74, Vokes 79)
Prediction: Yeovil 0-2 Burnley
Orient to beat Carlisle
Leyton Orient and Burnley’s campaigns so far seem to have plenty in common: both are their respective league’s surprise packages, both enjoyed incredible starts, both are capable of the odd slip-up, and both own deadly strike duos. Orient’s front two features veteran frontman Kevin Lisbie and their leading scorer, David Mooney.
However, their form has dipped slightly since Mooney picked up an injury, but they have managed to stay in the top two, ahead of Wolves, after earning a draw at Molinuex a few games ago in front of 28,000 fans, the third tier’s highest attendance so far this term.
Although they have a deadly strike partnership, you can find real quality throughout the team with players like Dean Cox, Moses Obujabo and Shaun Batt.
At the other end of the spectrum, Carlisle United started the season woefully, leaving them bottom of the league. They made the decision to sack long-serving manager Greg Abbott, and promoted from within, replacing him with the inexperienced Graham Kavanagh. The change has definitely paid dividends, with the Cumbrians climbing away from the bottom four and into sixteenth.
Although things have turned round for Carlisle, few would bet against the O’s winning on their own turf on Saturday against a defence that has leaked goals for the majority of the season, even though it has improved since being demolished by Orient on the opening day.
Last Meeting: Carlisle 1-5 Orient (Amoo 43 – Lisbie 22, Cuthbert 37, Mooney 70, Cox 80, 90)
Prediction: Orient 3-1 Carlisle
Scunthorpe to beat Mansfield
Eight games ago, Scunthorpe were midtable and managerless, after exiting the FA cup at the hands of bitter rivals Grimsby, who came away from Glanford Park with a 2-0 victory. Consequently, legendary Iron manager Brian Laws was relieved of his duties, and his long time right-hand man Russ Wilcox was installed as caretaker boss in Lincolnshire. Fast forward eight games, the Iron sit top of League Two, with Wilcox as the permanent chief with an unbeaten record at the helm.
Wins against Rochdale (twice), Portsmouth, Torquay, Morecambe and Oxford have seen United change from outsiders for promotion to genuine contenders. Impressively, in four of those matches, Wilcox’s men have managed to keep clean sheets, and while Sam Winall continues to score goals, Scunthorpe have the ingredients to lead a tight promotion marathon.
Elsewhere in North Nottinghamshire, Mansfield have begun to show signs of positivity following a disastrous run of 13 games without a win. Recent victories at Cheltenham and Fleetwood have stopped the rot and have steered the Stags away from trouble and eased the pressure on manager Paul Cox; they will be doing everything they can to make sure their first season back in the Football League isn’t a battle against the drop. Keeping winger Sam Clucas would help; the 23 year-old has 11 goals and as you would expect, there has been speculation lining him elsewhere.
On their day Town can be a very good side, but their poor defence will be worried at the prospect of facing Sam Winnall.
Last Meeting: Scunthorpe 2-0 Mansfield (Sparrow 30, Winnall 41)
Prediction: Mansfield 1-2 Scunthorpe