Trotting Along Nicely…
Morecambe v Bolton
With four wins in a row without conceding, Bolton are showing similar form to this time last season, where a run of 16 wins in 22 games saw them flying from League Two’s bottom half into the automatic promotion spots.
With seven January additions to bolster Ian Evatt’s options, the whole team is looking slick and strong in a 3-4-1-2 formation that allows for a strong defensive structure and a varied attacking threat – with skilfull, mobile strikers and attacking wing backs, plus a goalscoring threat from midfield.
Kieran Lee – whose performance in the 6-0 win against Sunderland was as good as you’ll see – was rested in midweek but will surely return here. Ian Evatt is spoilt for choice with three in-form forward players fighting for two spots: Dion Charles, Dapo Afolayan and Amadou Bakayoko all look threatening.
Of Morecambe’s seven league wins this season, four of them came in their first 10 games. Since the start of October, they’ve lost 11 of 19 league games. All season the Shrimps have struggled to keep League One’s better teams at bay. Against those currently in 16th and above, they have conceded 43 goals in 18 games – 2.39 per game – with a solitary one clean sheet that came vs Sheff Weds back in August.
Bolton’s varied threat and sky-high confidence should be enough to secure a fifth straight win.
Back Bolton to beat Morecambe @ 2.26/5
Oxford’s Tayls Is Up
Oxford Utd v Portsmouth
Oxford under Karl Robinson are consistently one of the best attacking teams in League One. The Yellows have scored 41 goals in their last 20 league games and average two goals a game at home over the course of the season.
Striker Matty Taylor started the season uncharacteristically slowly in front of goal, with one goal in his first eight league games.
But since late September he has been incredibly dangerous, netting in 14 of Oxford’s last 21 games in all competitions (66%) with 15 goals overall, none of them penalties. He is not a player who bulks up his stats with braces and hat-tricks, but instead provides a very consistent goal threat through good penalty box movement and finishing with both feet as well as his head.
Portsmouth have a miserly defence away from home and will be tough to break down, but are low on confidence and are winless in four. If Oxford put in a good home performance here, Taylor is a good bet to notch.
Back Matty Taylor to score for Oxford @ 3.211/5
Shot Hungry Harry
Swindon v Exeter
Harry McKirdy – Swindon Town’s box office striker – has started 2022 on another level. Always a menace for opposition defences with his skill and movement, Ben Garner has clearly challenged Harry McKirdy to focus purely on getting shots off and providing a goal-threat.
In his last six league matches, McKirdy has taken a scarcely believable 37 shots – more than six per game. Even for the man taking the most shots per 90 in League Two, this is taking it to the next level. With six goals in that time, the shots haven’t been wasted.
With striker partner Josh Davison injured in midweek, McKirdy will feel the goalscoring burden even stronger than before. Exeter are a decent defensive side but they won’t come up against many strikers with the skill and shot volume of McKirdy. He’s in rare form at the moment and thrives in big matches.
Back Harry McKirdy to score at 21/10