IT’S all about the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tonight with 15 matches taking place. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) drew the short straw and spent hours researching the matches to find a betting angle.
Hartlepool v Sheffield United | Tuesday 19:00
Tonight is all about small stakes for me. You’d be mad to go in heavy in this much-maligned competition. My approach here is to back outsiders at big prices. There’s no doubt that a number of the sides won’t be taking this competition seriously and I’d definitely bracket Sheffield United amongst that. Nigel Clough’s side needed penalties to get past Scunthorpe (then in League Two) in last season’s first round, before succumbing to tonight’s opponents Hartlepool 1-0 at Bramhall Lane in Round 2. United are 11th in League One, and face Leyton Orient on Saturday. Clough will be aware his priorities lie in getting his side promoted this season. His side tonight will include none of the starters from their previous league game.
Granted, Hartlepool are in woeful form as they prop up the League Two table, but with manager Colin Cooper’s weekend resignation sinking in, is it time to chance them at a big price with new ideas kicking about the dressing room? When you delve a little deeper into their home form, it makes okay reading. They’ve suffered just one defeat in four and have beaten Shrewsbury and drew with Portsmouth at Victoria Park.
It might look silly tomorrow morning, but I’m happy to take a small chance on Pools at 4/1 with Bet365 tonight.
Exeter v Coventry | Tuesday 19:45
Another small bet here, and another big outsider. Fellow WeLoveBetting contributor Gavin Horsfall (@GHorsfall) won’t be sending me a Christmas card, but I’m happy to take a look at Exeter tonight. After a dodgy start to the season, the always-impeccably dressed Paul Tisdale seems to have steadied the ship in the West Country. After dramatically slipping down the table, Exeter have now moved up to 14th after four straight 2-1 wins. The highlight of this spell was a superb victory over league leaders Bury 10 days ago.
With a team so much in form, I think they’re worth chancing at prices like Betfred‘s 9/2. Coventry did get to the last four in this competition in 2012/13 but were knocked out by Leyton Orient in their first match last season. Steven Pressley’s side haven’t won in four games and have picked up just one point out of the last 12 available.
With all that in mind, I don’t see much harm in a small interest in Exeter.
MK Dons v AFC Wimbledon | Tuesday 19:45
It’s a grudge match like no other in England. You don’t need me to tell you that. This morning I did some punditry work with former Wimbledon player Chris Perry and he was adamant that this game means much more to AFC than it does to MK.
This will be the third time the sides have met and after two victories for MK, I think tonight might finally see an AFC win in this fixture. Karl Robinson’s side are having a solid 2014/15 with a Top 4 place in the League One table sitting alongside a life-changing 4-0 win over Manchester United in the Capital One Cup back in August. I think their intensity levels will drop for this game, unlike AFC Wimbledon’s. Chris Perry said a win here would mean as much as promotion to the AFC fans and Neal Ardley will field a full-strength side.
Another angle to look at are the fact that MK have lost to Northampton and Stevenage in this competition in the last couple of years. Hardly inspiring form. Goals are also something to consider tonight, Milton Keynes are the top scorers in League One with 25 goals to their name, while only three League Two sides have leaked more than Wimbledon this season. I think both teams will score tonight and I like the 3/4 with Ladbrokes. I’ll also have to get involved with the 13/2 with William Hill for an AFC win as well. Chris Perry’s words struck a chord!
Sheffield United v Hartlepool – Hartlepool to win (9/2 Bet365)
Coventry v Exeter – Exeter to win (9/2 Betfred)
MK Dons v AFC Wimbledon – Both Teams To Score (3/4 Ladbrokes)
MK Dons v AFC Wimbledon – AFC Wimbledon to win (13/2 William Hill)