The first domestic cup competition of the season is kicking off tomorrow night, with the 72 Football League clubs all in action as they look to head that little bit closer towards Wembley. With some interesting 1st round ties soon to commence, Charlie Wright takes a look at the first 17 fixtures of what is set to be another exciting year in the League Cup.
Accrington Stanley v Hull City
– There’s no doubt Steve Bruce’s Tigers will go into the game as favourites, however Stanley won’t go in without a fight, scoring late at Elland Road last year giving Leeds a scare. With the likes of Sone Aluko, Abel Hernandez & David Meyler not expected to start, City will by no means put out a decent squad in order to book themselves a place in the 2nd round.
Prediction: Accrington Stanley 0 – 2 Hull City
Blackburn v Shrewsbury
– An upset could be on the cards as Shrewsbury will be looking to progress through the rounds again this year, after last season they got all the way to the 4th round where they fell to defeat at the hands of Chelsea. With the confidence from their promotion campaign still sky high, Nicky Mellon will no doubt put out a strong squad. On the other hand, Gary Bowyer’s men hit out at the first hurdle last time out to lower league position, so he’ll be hoping there isn’t a repeat of fortunes. With the loss of key players in Josh King & Rudy Gestede, this fixture has serious upset potential.
Prediction: Blackburn 0 – 1 Shrewsbury
Brentford v Oxford United
– It’s been nearly 1 year since Danny Hylton netted in the 87th minute against Bristol City to send Oxford into the 2nd round, which could ultimately happen again when they visit Griffin Park on Tuesday night. Brentford have been in the limelight recently regarding the sales of their key players, so will the publicity affect them? Marinus Dijkhuizen will most likely play a similar team to the one who pulled a point back against Ipswich on Saturday. Despite losing their Right Back Odubajo to Hull, they’re a lot stronger than Oxford in all areas.
Prediction: Brentford 3 – 1 Oxford
Bristol Rovers v Birmingham
– At the helm at Burton Albion this time last year, Gary Rowett led his men to the 3rd round, knocking out Wigan and QPR respectively. Similar success is what he’ll be hoping for with Birmingham this time out, as they face Darrell Clarke’s Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Ground. With Demarai Gray bombing it down the wings feeding balls into the path of Clayton Donaldson, i can only expect their to be one clear winner in this tie.
Prediction: Bristol Rovers 0 – 3 Birmingham
Cardiff v AFC Wimbledon
– Near Eardley’s Dons travel to South Wales tomorrow night in hope of reaching the 2nd round for the first time ever. Despite the hopes and aspirations, they’ll have to power through Cardiff who had an odd season last year, so they’re looking for success in all area’s. The spirit that Wimbledon showcased in the cup competitions last year nearly beat Liverpool, so they’ll have nothing to lose at the Cardiff City Stadium tomorrow night. With the likes of Eoin Doyle and Sammy Ameobi up top, they pose a huge attacking threat which realistically should be too much for the Dons back line.
Prediction: Cardiff 3 – 2 AFC Wimbledon
Carlisle United v Chesterfield
– The last time Carlisle made the 2nd round they’d just beaten Blackburn on penalties, after a highly exhilarating 3-3 draw. Meanwhile the Spireites lost 2-1 to Leeds, so both teams will be eager to advance into the hat for the next round as their respective season’s are expected to be very different to last year’s. Chesterfield aren’t looking as strong, with midfield looking bare without Gary Roberts & Tendayi Darikwa, the goal scoring department is Lacklustre without Sam Clucas and Marc Richards. I can see this one being a very dry game with not a lot of chances, just scrappy play in the middle of the park. The win is up for grabs.
Prediction: Carlisle 0 – 0 Chesterfield
(Carlisle win 6-5 on penalties)
Charlton v Dagenham & Redbridge
– Being one of the most local fixtures of the 1st round, Dagenham are expected to take a decent amount of away fans to The Valley tomorrow. Guy Luzon’s men will have stiff competition after losing lots of key players over the summer. However, if Igor Vetokele finds his feet, the Addicks should have no troubles in progressing into the 2nd round for the 3rd consecutive year. It’s most likely that Wayne Burnett won’t field a ridiculously strong starting 11 as he’ll be saving his side’s energy for the big derby match versus Leyton Orient at the weekend. The expectation will most probably be the reality that Charlton Athletic will be playing in the next round.
Prediction: Charlton 4 – 1 Dagenham & Redbridge
Colchester United v Reading
– The U’s crashed out of the League Cup last year at the hands of Charlton and the challengers are of a similar level. Tony Humes will take the game in his stride, possibly starting a strong squad with George Moncur & Gavin Massey both expected to start, giving them strength in midfield and up top. Steve Clarke has added lots of quality to his squad over the summer in Ali Al-Habsi & Paul McShane. His starting 11 will most likely differ from the 11 that lost to Birmingham on Saturday, which could backfire as Colchester have a great team spirit at the moment which could see them surpass the Royals into the 2nd round.
Prediction: Colchester United 1 – 0 Reading
Fleetwood v Hartlepool
– These two have met each other once in a cup competition before and it was Hartlepool who ran out 3-2 winners back in 2008. Times have changed, 7 years on and Fleetwood find themselves in a division higher than Hartlepool so they should see themselves as favourites. Jamie Proctor will be a vital player for the Cod Army tomorrow night, with his goals and attacking threat he could well jump Fleetwood into the League Cup 2nd round for the first time in their history. On the other hand, Ronnie Moore has made many new signings during the transfer window and we saw glimpses of brilliance in their 2-0 opening day victory versus Morecambe. It should be a tight affair, Fleetwood having the better team but Hartlepool having higher confidence, i can see the Lancashire side edging to victory.
Prediction: Fleetwood 2 – 1 Hartlepool
Huddersfield v Notts County
– Having made the better start to their season, Notts County could be a surprise package in this years tournament. With Jon Stead leading the way up front, he has the experience and memories of last season’s cup heroics with Bradford fondly with him, which could help play a massive part in the Magpies progressing through. Chris Powell’s side will be up against it from the off, however Kyle Dempsey could be their key man tomorrow night with Nakhi Wells expected to rest for their game saturday. All in all it is destined to be a cup tie of the highest quality with both teams wanting to get a result.
Prediction: Huddersfield 2 – 3 Notts County
Ipswich v Stevenage
– Teddy Sheringham’s Stevenage make the 80 mile journey to Portman Road tonight, hoping for a huge upset as they go head to head with Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town. The Stevenage boss didn’t get of to the best of starts on Saturday however he’ll be looking to make amends by all means. Primarily, Ipswich’s goal this year is promotion, plain and simple, so regarding the cup competitions it will be interesting to see what approach Mick will make. Either way i think Ipswich will win regardless of the team that’s put out on the field.
Prediction: Ipswich 3 – 0 Stevenage
Luton v Bristol City
– What could be the tie of the round, both teams have come off the back of fairly disappointing opening day results. Luton look to be a force in League Two this season with one of the most impressive looking squads. John Still takes every game very competitively so it wont be a walk over for Bristol City. Last year’s JPT winners know what it takes to succeed in cup competitions and they have the potential to do well this year as they are most likely going to finish mid table, so this is the perfect opportunity to bring superior excitement to Ashton Gate. It’ll be a very open game, end to end stuff, it’s bound to go to the wire. Due to the quality and desire for the cup, Steve Cotterill’s men will have enough to sweep past the Hatters into round 2.
Prediction: Luton 2 – 3 Bristol City
Millwall v Barnet
– Barnet suffered a blow to confidence with a loss to Leyton Orient on Saturday, which could make their trip to newly relegated Millwall a bigger task. I speak for Martin Allen here but Barnet’s sole goal for this season is to survive and finish in a respectable place in due course, so a cup run to add to an already busy season is not ideal for his goal. Similarly, Neil Harris is setting his eyes firmly on promotion so a venture in the cup would add to the tiresome 46 game season that lay ahead. All in all, i think if Millwall start Lee Gregory or Steve Morison then they could well do some damage, but either way both managers won’t be to disheartened with the outcome.
Prediction: Millwall 1 – 0 Barnet
MK Dons v Leyton Orient
– The last time these 2 crossed paths, MK smashed 6 past a very vulnerable Orient side. This time round, Leyton Orient have rebuilt and will be more of a challenge for Championship side MK Dons. Karl Robinson and his Dons side opened their league account with a 4-1 victory over Rotherham, showing last year’s attacking mentality has not dwindled. It’s safe to say MK look slightly weaker in some area’s compared to last season, yet they’ve acquired Matthew Upson who’ll bring experience to the table. Obviously they don’t have Dele Alli or Will Grigg to deal with, but the East London side will be up against it from the off against their higher quality opponents. It won’t be the same scoreline as last time but it will be MK Dons heading into the changing rooms at full time as winners.
Prediction: MK Dons 2 – 1 Leyton Orient
Morecambe v Sheffield United
– The Blades have had something of a romance with the cup in recent years, but that was under Nigel Clough and nowadays it’s Nigel Adkins who will be hoping to carry on this success. United make the 200 mile trip up the m6 tonight looking to surpass The Shrimps into the 2nd round. Adkins added Billy Sharp to his squad this summer so that’s where Morecambe will really have to be wary, in defence. Unfortunately goals may be hard to come by for the Lancashire side, with the sale of top scorer Jack Redshaw to Blackpool last month, they’ll be relying on the decaying 36 year old Kevin Ellison. There is no doubt that this should be a sporadic Sheffield United cup win.
Prediction: Morecambe 0 – 2 Sheffield United
Northampton v Blackpool
– If we take glimpses of opening day performances into account then Blackpool should go into the game at Northampton all guns blazing. Neil McDonald will want to play a fairly strong starting 11, with Kyle Letheren in goal, with Mark Cullen up top. Not to be underestimated, the Cobblers are in for a season of hope and yearning so they’ll be up and ready for it after beating Bristol Rovers at the weekend. Chris Wilder has a very balanced squad defensively and going forward, whilst Blackpool will be attacking, eagerly trying to force their way through into the hat for the next round. It’ll be another tight affair,however the Seasiders have been on the road of late, so fatigue will be evident. An upset could be on the cards.
Prediction: Northampton 1 – 1 Blackpool
(Northampton win 4-2 on penalties)
Nottingham Forest v Walsall
– The last 4 meetings between these 2 sides have all ended in stalemates, so Dougie Freedman will be encouraging his troops to put on a better performance than the one at Brighton on Friday night. The early rounds of the cup competitions have been kind to Forest in recent years, winning their 1st round games for the last 4 consecutive years. On the other hand, Walsall’s only real cup grace fell last season where they got themselves to Wembley. Midfield maestro Robert Tesche will be sidelined due to injury so the Midfield will be fairly bare. With Henri Lansbury expected to rest up for their game against Rotherham on the weekend, the middle of the park is where the Saddlers will have to expose the most if they stand in any chance of progressing through.
Prediction: Nottingham Forest 3 – 2 Walsall
All these games will kick off at 7:45pm with coverage on local BBC radio stations and the club’s respective HD Player websites.