The EFL League One match coming up this Saturday, 24 August 2019, between Fleetwood Town F.C. and Accrington Stanley F.C. will take place at Highbury Stadium in Fleetwood, England. Stanley comes into the match still searching for their first win of the season, following a heartbreaking loss to Shrewsbury Town F.C. on Tuesday. They lead that match 2-0 in the second half before surrendering 3 unanswered goals in the waning minutes to fall by a 3-2 total. The loss dropped them to 0-2-1 on the season (note: their second week match with Bury F.C. has been postponed indefinitely). Fleetwood, on the other hand, is off to a very solid start, having gone 2-1-1 to open the year, and things are looking promising for the club that finished 11th in the table last year. They are coming off of a 1-1 draw, at home against Wycombe Wanderers F.C. on Tuesday. In that match, Paddy Madden had a 90th minute equaliser today save 1 point for them on the evening.
While these two Lancashire clubs have similar stories in terms of being reformed versions of historic clubs, and even a somewhat similar timeline in terms of advancing through the divisions, they have rarely faced each other. Both of these clubs were able to achieve multiple promotions in the early 2000's to achieve their current "League" status. Fleetwood has now been playing League One since 2014-2015, and with the exception of 2016-2017, when they finished 4th, have generally been a lower mid-table side at this tier. Last season, they finished with a +6 goal differential, which was an improvement of 15 over their -6 from the previous year. This season, they will be looking to take another step forward.
Accrington is in just their second season at this level, and last season they were able to finish strong enough to end up 14th in the table. This season, they have 12 new additions their roster, and are hoping to improve upon that position. They are off to a slow start, but young forwards Colby Bishop, Courtney Baker Richardson, and Dion Charles have shown to be promising but unpolished. Ultimately, where Accrington falls in the table this season will likely shake down to how well these young players perform. However, it was reported this week that Accrington manager John Coleman is hoping that the team can keep their first clean sheet of the season on Saturday, so this leads me to believe he feels like the club is closer to where they need to be on defense, than on offense.
Accrington Stanley vs Fleetwood Town Vital Information
This match can be viewed on iFollow (which must be purchased from the Fleetwood Town website) in the United States (Note: Accrington Stanley will have international iFollow access within the next few weeks), and on iFollow in the UK at 10:00 AM U.S. ET/3:00 PM GMT.
Referee appointments have Peter Wright as the referee, with assistants David Benton and Chris Isherwood, and the fourth official Scott Jackson.
This will be the 7th meeting all time between Fleetwood Town and Accrington Stanley F.C. In the previous 6 meetings, Accrington has won 2, Fleetwood have won 3, and there has been 1 draw. It was a Fleetwood win in the most recent of those, 1-0 draw at the WHAM Stadium, on 30, March 2019. These teams first met as EFL League Two opponents, a 3-1 Accrington victory at Fleetwood on 20 November 2012. In spite of their regional proximity, they have never drawn against one another in a Cup competition. Ironically, this will finally happen in about 10 days when the two meet in the Group Stage of the Checkatrade Trophy at Accrington on 3 September 2019.
Five Points That Shouldn’t Be Overlooked
Fleetwood is a team that has quite a stable of talent up front. With Madden, Fleetwood has an established veteran presence up front, who is now in his 3rd season with the club. The veteran was their second leading scorer last season with 14 goals. This season he is off to an extremely hot start with 3 goals in the first 4 matches of the season. Even more impressive is that he had done that mostly coming off the bench, as he has started just once, and those 4 goals have come in only 200 minutes of playing time. Madden has over 280 League One appearances in his career, and has scored 94 times at this tier. The starting primary striker's role for Fleetwood this season was won by Conor McAlheny, but he has been somewhat unimpressive, scoring just 1 goal thus far. However, it's likely that the primary role will ultimately go back to last season's leading scorer Ched Evans. During the offseason, Evans finally wrapped up an extremely difficult legal battle that we won't go into detail on here. He had 18 goals for The Fishermen last season, but reports sounds like he is still a few weeks away from match fitness. With McAlheny having sustained and ankle injury, and reported to be out for 4 weeks, I am expecting that Madden will get the start up front on Saturday.
As mentioned above, Accrington has a trio of inexperienced but talented newcomers up front. Unfortunately, one of them, Baker-Richardson or CBR as we like to call him, went down with a hamstring injury in the first half Tuesday, and will be unavailable this Saturday. This makes it likely that we will see a pairing of Bishop and Charles up front. Bishop leads the team in scoring with 3 goals so far this season, and Charles got his first, in his first appearance after subbing on for CBR on Tuesday. Veteran midfielder Sean McConville, a 15-goal-scorer last season, has yet to get on the board this year. This was in spite of putting 3 shots on target on Tuesday. It appears that in the midfield, Coleman seems to be leaning toward the side of experience. Against Shrewsbury, along with McCoville, Seamus Conneely, Sam Finley, and Jordan Clark started in the midfield, all four are players who have been with the club multiple years. The talented but inexperienced Joe Pritchard started opening day (not counting a sub-on the the League Cup), but hasn't made it back on to the pitch since. He could certainly infuse some offense, but with Coleman seemingly out for the clean sheet I expect that he will make a more conservative selection than Pritchard on Saturday.
Right now the oddsmakers seem pretty certain that things are going to go in the direction of Fleetwood. Currently, you have to bet 4 quid just to win 3 on Fleetwood with 3/4 odds. (Ie. a bet of 10 quid on Fleetwood to win would pay back 17.50, your original 10 plus your winnings of 7.50). If you are feeling Accy, the payout is quite a bit better at 7/2. This means for every quid you bet, you can win 3.5. (Ie. a bet of 10 quid on Accy would to win would pay back 45, your original 10 plus 35 in winnings). If it's a draw you fancy, that is currently going off at 5/2, or a 35 quid payout in our 10 quid example. If you have no interest in gambling then just go ahead and skip this paragraph.
While Fleetwood looks pretty good record wise, there does seem to be some concerns on the defensive end of things. They have allowed 6 goals in their first 4 matches, and have yet to keep a clean sheet. Alex Cairns has been a stalwart in net for Fleetwood in recent seasons. In fact, last season he started in all 46 league matches for them with and impressive 1.13 goals per 90 minutes, and 16 clean sheets. This season, he struggled a bit in the opening 3 matches with a 58% save percentage. in their most recent match, 37-year-old Scotsman Matt Gilks got the nod at keeper. Gilks played impressively, but at an age where most guys are long retired, he is obviously not their goalkeeper of the future. Ultimately, Gilks brings is boatload of experience to the table, and is a nice option to have, but I think that Fleetwood manager Joey Barton will go back to the 26-year-old Cairns at least for Saturday.
Speaking of Barton, we have of course saved the best for last, because how can you talk about Fleetwood without mentioning their famous, or perhaps infamous manager. Last season, Barton got into a bit of a war of words with Accrington owner Andy Holt after he made some comments about the quality of the WHAM Stadium pitch. Barton is undoubtedly a personality, and if you aren't familiar with his antics, a quick plug of his name into Google will undoubtedly provide you with several hours worth of reading material. Or, if you would like to hear more from the the "Footballer, Pundit, Father", you can check our joeybarton.com. While I was there, I click on his "Get In Touch" button at the bottom so that I could advise him that you don't actually need a whole separate website just to display your Twitter feed, but unfortunately that link went to a blank page.
Accrington Stanley vs Fleetwood Town Prediction
As much as I would like to say I see an upset coming, and go out on put your quid on the big money, I just don't see it. So far Accrington this season has been a team this year that is not all that great at scoring, or all that great at keeping other teams from scoring. Fleetwood has not been great defensively, but their 8 goals scored are the 3rd best total in League One. With this being a meeting between a pair of clubs that have yet to register a clean sheet, I feel like this ultimately is going to come down to which team can score more goals. That scenario obviously doesn't go in favor of Accrington. I am expecting John Coleman try to to slow down the pace of the game, hope for a clean sheet, and then try to win it on the counter attack. That is however going to be a tall order against a team as skilled up front as Fleetwood. I expect at some point in the game that Accy we will get that goal on the counter attack, but I find it unlikely that they will be able to limit Fleetwood to anything less than a goal per half.
Prediction: Fleetwood Town - 2 Accrington Stanley - 1