League Two preview: Back a basement blockade


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The Independent Football

Goals were at a premium in League Two on Tuesday with eight out of 11 matches finishing under 2.5 goals and we fancy more of the same on Saturday with our focus fixed on a couple of interesting tussles in particular. Let's start with Morecambe v Barnet at the Globe Arena.

The stats tell their own story about the attacking threat posed in this match - the two teams average exactly one goal per game between them - with Morecambe youngster Jack Redshaw the only player who will take to the pitch with more than three league goals to his name. He has five, which puts him joint-16th in the division scoring charts. 

But it's the defensive organisation shown by both in recent weeks that really grabs our attention.

Barnet, of course, have become a much tighter unit since the arrival of Edgar Davids. Not only has the Dutch master made an impact with his tactical input on the training ground, but it's clearly a significant advantage for any team at this level to have a player of his intelligence dictating the shape and tempo in the centre of midfield.

As such, we probably shouldn't be too shocked that the Bees have kept four successive clean sheets with Davids on the pitch - and let's not forget this was a team shipping over two goals per game prior to that. In those last four matches, Barnet have suffered only 15 shots on target.

Morecambe went out all guns blazing by their own standards in midweek, bidding for their first ever league win over local rivals Accrington Stanley at the 11th attempt, only to be thwarted by some brilliant goalkeeping by Ian Dunbavin. 

The Shrimps peppered the Stanley goal with 14 shots on target - their best effort of the campaign to date - but couldn't force a way through, even missing a 92nd-minute penalty. So it might leave them a little lacking in self-belief this weekend and we doubt they will carve out nearly as many openings.

However, the goalless draw with Leam Richardson's men was Morecambe's fourth consecutive clean sheet on home soil as they try to do something about that wretched win ratio of 25 per cent since moving into the new stadium over two years ago. Given their lack of cutting edge, they seem to be going about it the right way but they might be subjected to further frustration this weekend before that percentage picks up.

Meanwhile, the other fixture that looks like a prime candidate to finish under 2.5 goals is Aldershot v Bradford at the Recreation Ground. The two teams both played out goalless draws on home soil in midweek and fatigue could be the primary reason for the scoresheet rarely being troubled in this one.

Aldershot dropped to the bottom of the Football League after their stalemate with Wycombe but it wasn't an occasion for Dean Holdsworth to be too downhearted, given that his team had kept their clean sheet in spite of playing for over an hour with ten men after Anthony Tonkin's red card for two bookable offences.

The Shots are now four games unbeaten since their red-letter triumph at Southend last month and looking much more accomplished than at any point prior to that, although there's no getting away from the fact that they have only netted two goals in eight home matches.

Bradford, by normal standards, are one of the more creative teams in the division but they have laboured a little in recent weeks, trying to juggle a promotion bid with their efforts in three different cup competitions. The 0-0 with Chesterfield on Tuesday was the Bantams' ninth midweek match of the campaign and it produced just one shot on target for either side.

Since their gripping 3-2 extra-time comeback win over Burton Albion in the Capital One Cup at the end of September, Phil Parkinson's men have finished under 2.5 in nine out of 11 matches and their last five games have produced a grand total of four goals, including a goalless 120 minutes on the road against Premier League Wigan.

All of which considered, it can do no harm to throw some loose change on both matches dishing up equal boredom. The no-goalscorer double pays out at 142/1.

Betting advice...

2pts Under 2.5 goals Aldershot v Bradford at 10/11 (Boylesports)

Shots played an hour with ten men in midweek and Bantams look tired from their cup exploits.

2pts Under 2.5 goals Morecambe v Barnet at evens (Coral, Hills)

Shrimps have looked solid of late and Bees are giving no freebies out under Edgar Davids.

0.25pt No goalscorer double Aldershot v Bradford and Morecambe v Barnet at 142/1 (Sky Bet)

The four teams produced a grand total of just one goal between them in midweek.

For more betting advice, visit Best of the Bets by clicking here.