No sooner has the season begun, than we stop for the international break. League One in England carries on as usual however and we have some intriguing games for you in this week’s Millionaire Pick 6.
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Bolton v Southend
Not too much doubting that Southend have the toughest assignment in this round of fixtures, as they travel north to a Bolton side that are unbeaten so far this season.
Sitting proudly atop the division, the feelgood factor is a far cry from just a few short months ago.
It’s been 23 years since the seasiders last registered a win away at Bolton, something they’ve managed on only one other occasion since 1979. Hardly the best omen to take into the game.
However, manager Phil Brown knows the club like the back of his hand having made over 200 appearances for the club and also managed them at the turn of the century.
He’ll need all of his nous to ensure his Southend side take anything at all back to Essex but in Nile Ranger, he does have a forward that has finally begun to knuckle down and show what he’s capable of.
Goals galore here, mostly for the hosts, but they’ll have to battle for their 3-1 victory.
Oldham v Shrewsbury
Despite only scoring 2 goals – the joint worst in the division with Coventry, Oldham find themselves relatively comfortable in 13 th place and just a win from the top seven.
One win and three draws from their five games shows how hard they’ve been to beat this season, but they’ve been far from inspiring.
Shrewsbury have scored double the amount of goals of their opponents, but perhaps more importantly, they’ve also conceded double the amount.
It’s precisely that lack of cohesion in defence which has authored their poor start to the campaign.
Only three goalless draws in this fixture stretching back to 1980 suggests that there will be goals, but given the current form of both teams, there’s unlikely to be many.
Boundary Park is one of the Shrews bogey grounds too, so I’m going for a dire 1-0 home victory here.
Millwall v Bradford
One of the games of the day will take place in south London at The New Den.
Millwall are just a win away from top spot but currently sit in fifth, and they are the second highest scorers in the division going into this match with 11.
Unfortunately they are also the team that has conceded the second highest amount whereas Bradford are only behind Port Vale in the amount of goals they’ve shipped. Just three let in in five games suggest a defence that will be hard to break down.
A League One version of the irresistible force against the immovable object awaits.
Steve Morison continues to bang them in for the hosts and is second on the top scorers table behind the prolific Josh Morris of Scunthorpe.
A real old-school battler, Morison might lack refinement to his game but he certainly knows where the goal is and his physical attributes normally ensure he’s successful in delivering what’s needed at the sharp end.
Football will be the winner here, as will Millwall – 2-1 is my third pick of the week.
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Northampton v MK Dons
What an unusual start to the season the hosts have had!!
Five games, five draws. Practically unheard of, but those five points are at least enough to keep them in mid table.
In fact, they’re only two points behind their visitors despite not winning a game in 2016/17.
It could be something to do with the fact that manager Rob Page is setting his team up to not get beaten rather than going out to win games.
From an entertainment point of view it makes for a somewhat boring spectacle, but Page won’t give too hoots if it helps his side stay in the division.
He’ll take the positives and point to the fact that his team haven’t lost as an affirmation that the tactics he’s employed thus far are working.
I don’t expect this game to be any different, 1-1 the final score.
Gillingham v Sheff Utd.
With the greatest of respect to both clubs, it’s unusual to see Gillingham as high as sixth, whilst Sheffield United are languishing in 20th position.
The Blades have had disastrous start to 2016/17 and are just two points off of the bottom of the league.
Gillingham are flying high despite being the only side in the top 10 to have a negative goal difference.
Clearly, both clubs need to settle and start playing the football for which they can be renowned.
Billy Sharp and James Wilson saw United edge past Oxford at the weekend for their first victory since Chris Wilder took charge last season, and the manager is ready to drop anyone that continues to underperform.
The Gills edged a five goal thriller against Shrewsbury last time out, and will have their work cut out again despite United’s poor form.
It’s time that the visitors clicked and I’m going to back them for a slender away victory and one that they’ll have to give everything to achieve. 0-1 is my selection here.
Slovakia v England
An interesting first pick by Sam Allardyce as England manager.
No room for Jack Wilshere or Ross Barkley but a call up for West Ham’s Michail Antonio. Selections that Big Sam will live or die by.
Although the brand of football won’t necessarily be to everyone’s taste, where Allardyce does win is that he will give the national team back its identity.
Playing to the team’s strengths rather than trying to shoehorn them into a style that doesn’t suit at international level.
The work done on the training pitch prior to this game is vital and we’ll find out exactly how well things have gone after 90 minutes on Sunday.
A functional if not inspiring 1-1 draw to kick off the new era.