Stockport County travels to the County Ground on Saturday afternoon to face a Swindon side who have struggled for consistency this campaign.
The Hatters, however, displayed some fine form last month by winning five games in a row prior to their narrow 1-0 defeat away to Barrow. The two sides have faced twice this season already, once in the league and once in the FA Cup. The first meeting saw a feisty 1-1 draw in August, with Stockport ending the game with ten men after Paddy Madden was shown a red card. The second meeting ended in a 4-0 home win for Stockport. Swindon will be out for revenge this weekend.
Two months after that heavy FA Cup defeat in November, Swindon Town saw some managerial changes occur, with then-boss Scott Lindsey leaving to join Crawley Town. The ex-manager was then replaced by Jody Morris who struggled to adapt to life as Swindon's boss, losing his first three games in charge. Since then, the Robins have only lost one game in six, with the only defeat coming at home against third-place Carlisle.
Last weekend, Swindon drew 4-4 in a thrilling away tie against last-placed Rochdale, which will certainly concern Morris due to the fact that the hosts scored 21% of their entire goals scored at home against them. What will particularly annoy the manager, is the complacency to letting the lead slip twice which highlighted Swindon’s inability to control the tie. A frustrating day out for the travelling Swindon fans, however, it was absolutely perfect for the neutral.
The ability to score and Charlie Austin’s four-goal performance are the only positives to take away from the game. Since returning from Australia, Austin has scored eight goals in ten starts for his new side which indicates that any hope of a late play-off charge will depend on their number 11’s form.
At home this season, Swindon boast very average standings and statistics. They place in 15th on the home league table, winning seven, drawing five and losing five. Morris’ side doesn’t struggle to score goals at home, averaging 1.53 per game which is the joint third-highest in League Two. However, they do concede an average of a goal a game. Their last home game was that 2-1 defeat to Carlisle, where the away side scored a 96th-minute winner.
Over the last ten games in League Two, Stockport County are the most in-form side in the league, only losing once and winning six games. However, they have somewhat slowed down since their five victories in a row and they boast the same record as Swindon over the last five games which is one win, three draws and one defeat. Hatters boss David Challinor remains unbeaten this season against this weekend’s opponents and he will be looking for a similar performance to the one that saw Stockport win 4-0 in the FA Cup.
Last time out, Stockport looked set to pick up all three points against play-off rivals Mansfield, yet they had to settle with one point at full time due to a Lucas Akins 93rd-minute equaliser. Captain Paddy Madden scored his 10th goal of the season and ended his goal drought, which is a huge boost to the side as his last goal in the league came in December. During Madden’s struggle spell in front of goal, teammates Kyle Wooten and Will Collar stepped up. The duo have registered 16 goals contributions and 14 goal contributions respectively this season, Stockport as a team have scored fifty goals!
Away from home, Stockport have a respectable record however they seem to have an all-or-nothing approach. Only two of their away games this season have ended in a draw out of 18, winning eight and also losing eight. Their last away game was a 1-0 victory over Colchester, yet it could have been at least three if it wasn’t for poor finishing. Challinor’s side have the third-best away record in League Two in regard to goals conceded per game and they have kept a clean sheet in 33% of their away games this season. The last two away games have seen only one goal occur, which suggests that the first team to score on Saturday will most likely go on to claim all three points.
When looking at Swindon ahead of this tie, it is impossible to look past last weekend's draw and how vulnerable they were defensively. Conceding four goals In any game is a concern, but when it is against bottom of the league, alarm bells start ringing. I can’t see the away side losing this game, and given their lack of draws on the road, I think they will have just enough quality in the attack to collect all three points. Stockport County to win is currently priced at 11/10.
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