EFL WATCH: TOP 4 MIDWEEK GAMES
With all three EFL leagues heading to their first midweek set of fixtures this season, we take a look at four of the most interesting games set to take place this week.
The Championship – Millwall vs Luton Town (20th October – KO 7:45)
Gary Rowett has done a fantastic job at Millwall since his arrival in October last year. After almost steering Millwall to a play-off finish, the Lions have had a good start to the season. While not exactly entertainers, Rowett’s Millwall have only lost once so far this season, with two wins and two draws. The Den is known as a fortress for Millwall, only losing five out of 28 at home last season, but they are yet to win there this campaign and will look to right that wrong on Tuesday.
Luton Town have been one of the EFL’s surprise stories this season. After just about surviving last term, Nathan Jones has continued his successful return to Kenilworth Road and has Luton currently in the play-off places. Despite losing two of their last three, Luton have been able to beat the teams expected to be around the bottom half and find themselves defying expectations so far. Nathan Jones' system took Luton from League Two to the top of League One, is now working in the Championship and who knows where it could take them next.
Millwall will be looking to turn those Den draws into wins and there is no better time to start then on Tuesday, but Luton will be looking to prove that they can beat teams expected to finish higher in the table.
League One – Lincoln City vs Plymouth Argyle (20th October – KO 7:00)
Lincoln have hit a bit of a blip in the last two games, losing at home to Bristol Rovers and being held to a 0-0 draw by Fleetwood, but remain one of the early pacesetters in the league. After Danny Cowley’s departure to Huddersfield, former Oxford United manager Michael Appleton was given the job. After a slow start, Appleton’s side have found their form having had a summer window to build his squad. The focus on young players is proving to pay off with the likes of Lewis Montsma, TJ Eyoma and Alex Palmer all establishing themselves as regular starters.
Plymouth Argyle have also had a good start to life back in League One, with only one defeat in five games. Arriving into League One with a 4-4 draw against Wimbledon, it became clear that Plymouth could find the back of the net. An encouraging sign for Ryan Lowe is that in their last two wins, they have only conceded once. With a shored-up backline and a firing frontline, Plymouth could really upset the odds this season and get themselves a playoff place.
This game is bound to be entertaining with both teams capable of scoring plenty of goals, but they also have good defences. Wins for either side will put them in a great position in the early stages of the season.
League Two – Barrow vs Bolton (20th October – KO 7:00)
Ian Evatt’s Barrow lit up the National League last season, earning the nickname ‘Barrowcelona’ for their quick passing play. This style of play and the results Evatt was getting was always going to draw attention to him and this proved true as Evatt was offered the job at Bolton heading into this season. The former Blackpool defender accepted this opportunity and headed to the University of Bolton Stadium.
So far, this move has not gone to plan for Evatt as Bolton sit in 20th position, coming off the back of a 2-1 home defeat to relegation battling Oldham. Some fans are starting to get unsettled, desperate for the club to get out of the poor form that has haunted them for a few years now. The form could be down to the 19 new signings that have been made, and once they have settled in it could become better for Bolton.
However, Barrow will be looking to pile the misery onto their former manager although they themselves have not enjoyed life in League Two thus far. Yet to win in the league this season, Evatt’s replacement, David Dunn will be looking to get Barrow’s first win back in the Football League. He will have to do this from home though, as he tested positive for COVID-19 before their game at Harrogate.
This game does have a fascinating storyline and it also could greatly impact the rest of the season. A loss here for Bolton could be devastating to Evatt and will certainly not help get the fans off his back, while Barrow will want to get their first win and alleviate that pressure.
WILDCARD – Colchester United vs Forest Green Rovers (20th October – KO 7:00)
After their playoff semi-final defeat to Exeter City, John McGreal resigned from his job at Colchester and in came long-time coach Steve Ball. It has not been the best start for Ball in this new role, as Colchester have only won once, against Bolton. On the other hand, they picked up only their first loss of the league season this past Saturday, losing 3-2 to Carlisle.
Colchester have struggled to keep leads, as they have led in all three of their score draws.
Forest Green made some smart signings over the summer transfer window bringing in the likes of Jamile Matt and Jordan Moore-Taylor. The smart off-field recruitment has led to some great on the pitch performances, with Forest Green sitting in fourth going into Tuesday’s encounter. Mark Cooper’s side will be looking to make steps to a long-awaited promotion to League One, and a win against Colchester will certainly bolster their chances.
Steve Ball will want to turn those draws into wins and move Colchester up the table, whereas Cooper will be looking to put Forest Green into title contention. With both sides scoring plenty of goals this season, it is bound to be an end-to-end game with plenty of goals as well.