• Nathan Smith

EFL WATCH: TWO LEAGUES, THREE GAMES

Updated: Nov 15, 2020


No Championship? No problem.


League One – Plymouth Argyle vs Portsmouth (16th November – KO 7:45pm)


After a brilliant start to the season, Plymouth fans may have been slightly worried about manager Ryan Lowe as Sheffield Wednesday considered him as a replacement to the departing Garry Monk. However, Lowe was ruled out of the job hunt and this will be a big relief to the Home Park faithful. Argyle have adjusted to life in League One like they have been there for the last few years and currently sit in eighth as they look to mount a play off push. With young starters like goalkeeper Michael Cooper and in form striker Luke Jephcott and with Lowe set to remain at the club, the future looks bright for Plymouth.

Portsmouth had a slow start to the season, but have since recovered into seventh, just outside the play off places. Kenny Jackett is under a lot of pressure to deliver a promotion to Fratton Park, after years of failing to get over the line and into the Championship. Marcus Harness, Ronan Curtis, John Marquis and Ryan Williams is a daunting front four for anyone to face, as Pompey have been racking up the goals. Jackett will be happy with most of his sides defensive performances, but conceding two to Ipswich will have him hoping that Portsmouth can get back to keeping clean sheets.

While many fans claim the Dockyard Derby isn’t that much of a derby, there is no doubt that it will be a fascinating game of football with two teams vying for promotion.


League Two – Carlisle United vs Cheltenham Town (14th November – KO 3:00pm)


Chris Beech has certainly settled into his role as Carlisle manager well in his first full season, as Carlisle look like a fantastic attacking side so far this season. After a slight blip away at Exeter, Beech’s side recovered with a superb 3-2 win against league leaders Newport. Despite an unconvincing penalty shootout win against Hayes & Yeading, Carlisle will go into this game full of confidence and looking to power themselves in the automatic promotion places. Carlisle will be looking to the goals of Jon Mellish as Gime Toure and Joshua Kayode are set to miss the game, through suspension and international duty, respectively.

Despite a slight dip in form over the past few games, Cheltenham remain one of the sides that look destined to challenge for automatic promotion. With two losses in their last three games, with one of those being to relegation battling Oldham, Cheltenham will be wanting to put a run together to fully assert themselves as contenders for the league title. Two consecutive wins in cup competitions will certainly help the confidence of Michael Duff’s side and they will be looking to add to that come Saturday.

In what is going to be an intriguing clash between two promotion chasing sides, will the attacking style of Carlisle prevail, or will the defensive solidity of Cheltenham come out on top? We will have to see, but it is certainly going to be exciting.


WILDCARD – Forest Green Rovers vs Mansfield Town (14th November – KO 3:00pm)


Forest Green are in the middle of a serious promotion push, and despite some inconsistency in recent weeks, they look like they will be around the top throughout the season. However, if they defend like they did during their 6-2 thrashing at the hands of Lincoln, the assumption of a promotion challenge could soon fade away. The attacking partnership of Jamille Matt and Aaron Collins with Odin Bailey in the ten role has proven fruitful for Mark Cooper so far and he will be hoping that continues.

While Mansfield have had an awful start to the season, the appointment of Nigel Clough and the subsequent shock 1-0 win against Sunderland has given a new lease of life to the Stags season. There is no doubt that there is quality in that Mansfield side, with the likes of Nicky Maynard and Jamie Reid up front and experienced goalkeeper Marek Stech in between the sticks, all players that have played at a higher level or been linked with big moves. With Clough in charge, it is too early to rule Mansfield out for the play offs, but his first league game is an incredibly tricky tie away at the Innocent New Lawn.

This is bound to be an interesting game, with both sides on either end of the table but a win for Mansfield will certainly get Clough’s reign off to a strong start.

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