For those who follow only the top flight divisions around Europe, this week marks the international break and a 12 day period without a club fixture. However there are any number of club fixtures being played in the lower divisions of the Football League. In addition to weekend fixtures over October 8th and 9th the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Round 2 ties to be played week commencing 3rd October 2011.
Round 1 was played a month ago, in the week begining September 5. After eight clubs from each the Northern and Southern sections were given byes, the remaining 32 clubs played. Seven of the fixtures were, in the end, decided by penalties as ten home clubs and six away clubs earned a place in the Round 2 draw with the sixteen clubs given Round 1 byes. The draw for Round 2 resulted in the following 16 pairs, split between the Northern and Southern Sections:
The widest margin of victory in Round 1 was the 4-1 victory of Bournemouth over Hereford United in the Southern Section. The League 2 side, currently second bottom with just 1 win and 6 points from 11 matches, had a busy 10 days in August as they traveled to play AFC Wimbeldon in the League August 20, to Aston Villa in the Carling Cup August 23, to Bristol for another League match August August 27 and then to Bournemouth for the 4-1 loss on August 30. Seven matches did end up being decided be penalties, with scoreline still 1-1 between Leyton Orient and Dagenham & Redbridge after 120′ it took fourteen rounds of penalties to decide. The match finally ended 13(1) -(1)14when Ben Chorley’s right footed effort to the lower left corner was saved by James Shea. It was the only missed effort in 28 spot kicks.
As the nPower League 1 and League 2 sides prepare for Round 2 there are several interesting match-ups we’ve highlighted here:
AFC Bournemouth and Yeovil are currently the 20th and 21st clubs in League 1. They will not face each other in league play until New Years Eve but given their respective struggles this season the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy may represent their best chance at success this season. After losing seven consecutive matches in all competitions Bournemouth have recently righted the ship. They won back-to-back fixtures away to Leyton Orient and Exeter City before losing on an 87′ winner by Evan Horwood for then undefeated Hartlepool. Yeovil have lost three in a row – conceding eight goals over those matches. While this may not be a marquee match-up in the traditional sense, this is a tie where the two side are evenly matched, Yeovil having both scored one more goal in the league and allowed one fewer.
The highest rated club in the two Leagues will be facing off as well with the Wednesday 5 October match between Charlton Atheltic, currently 1st in League 1, and Brentford, currently 9th in League 1, available to watch on SkySports. The two sides are seperated by eight points in the table but playing the fixture at The Valley could be an advantage for the Bees as Griffin Park has not been a stronghold this season. Brentford have amassed a 4-0-1 record away from home this season in
the League while slumping at home, 2-1-3. Unfortunately for Uwe Rösler’s men, The Addicks are playing well in front of their home fans this season and will be up for the challenge. In their third consecutive season in England’s third division Charlton appear to be back on the right foot. Under manager Chris Powell, named Charlton’s 20th manager on in January 2011, they have an unbeaten mark of 8-3-0 and their 23 goals scored are the most in the league while their 9 goals allowed are joint-best defensive record (with Huddersfield and Hartlepool). Despite having been a Premier League club in the recent past, Charlton have not won the trophy in their most recent two years of participation. In 2010-11 the Addicks lost in the Southern Section Semi-Finals to Bretford on penalties following a 0-0 draw. In 2009-10 they lost away to eventual winners Southampton 2-1 in the Area Quarter-Finals.
In an odd bit of coincidence Preseton North End, third in League 1, will play Morecambe, third in League 2, at Globe Arena. Preston are 7-1-2 through 10 league matches and are one of just two clubs (Hartlepool) to have a match in hand. Level with MK Dons and Sheffield Wednesday on points, and sit just five points behind leaders Charlton. North End were relegated from The Championship last term and are looking for a bounce back this season. They have allowed 19 goals through 13 matches in all competitions including 3 apiece to Wycombe and Yeovil in the League. But even when they’ve conceded liberally they’ve been more than equal to the task with both the Wycombe and Yoevil matches ended in wins for North End. Morecambe, 6-3-2 in 11, have been more sound at the back, posting five clean sheets and having allowed just 11 goals in 13 matches.