TEN winners from his past 14 Football League fancies. Can Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) deliver again this Saturday?
Scunthorpe v Blackpool | Saturday 15.00
Stuttering is probably the best description of Scunthorpe’s start to the 2015/16 campaign. The Iron were two goals to the good at Colchester last weekend but a late leveller denied Mark Robins’ men their second league win of the season. Having secured just five roads wins last term, Scunny must address their away record sooner than later if top-six aspirations are to be met.
Home form has at least given Robins a bit of joy. Crewe were dispatched 2-0 before Millwall escaped Glanford Park with a goalless draw to give the Iron boss a W8-D7-L4 return from his 19 fixtures in North Lincolnshire. Paddy Madden blazed a penalty over the bar against the Lions but on the whole, Scunthorpe have competed well despite the below-par results this season.
The hosts are still busy bedding in 10 new signings to the squad but back-to-back home clean sheets give Robins a strong base to work with and they should fancy their chances of getting that second three-points this weekend when struggling Blackpool arrive. Sure, Scunny are far too short to put up in the Match Odds market but we can get involved at 1.80 (Favourit) off a -0.75 start on the Asian Handicap line.
Taking this selection means, should Scunthorpe win by two or more goals, we’ll receive a full pay-out on a winning bet. But if the hosts only manage a victory by a solitary goal, we’ll still pocket half of that potential full pay-out. The only way in which we won’t make money is if Blackpool bag an unlikely point or three.
The Seasiders have had a horrid start to life in League One (W0-D1-L4), sit bottom of the pile and have scored just once since their opening day draw at Colchester. In every fixture so far in 2015/16 the Tangerines have been out-shot and given up more ball possession than their opponents, they’ve conceded an eye-watering 62 goals this calendar year and allowed Walsall 10 attempts on target in their 4-0 drubbing last Saturday.
I’ve plenty of time for Neil McDonald; he’s an astute coach but you’ve got to feel for him. The Blackpool head stated it was “men against boys” in that Saddlers loss and that “Reality has hit in” at Bloomfield Road. “We’re just not good enough at the moment” was McDonald’s damming assessment but the Seasiders have had a wretched time trying to improve the squad.
With the continuing fan backlash against the club’s owners rumbling on, the atmosphere around Blackpool is as bad as the on-field performance. The visitors have W0-D8-L17 on their travels since the start of 2014/15, lost by at least two goals on three occasions this term and I don’t expect that return to improve on Saturday.
Exeter v Leyton Orient | Saturday 15.00
A big well done to Ian Hendon and Leyton Orient on a wonderful start to the 2015/16 season. The O’s pocketed all 15 points from their league outings in August to help scoop the Manger of the Month award for Hendon with midfield star Dean Cox collecting the Player of the Month gong.
I have to admit; I didn’t see the Londoners bouncing back as well as they have done. Cox, Jay Simpson and new-signing Paul McCallum have made a real impact in the final third with Orient netting at least twice in all five of those victories and I’m keen to get involved with goals again on Saturday.
Yeah, I’m not keen in touching the O’s. I detest backing sides on long winning streaks, especially the Football League, and their trip to St James’ Park to take on Exeter could well be their toughest task of the campaign thus far. The Grecians may have only W2-D1-L2 of their five outings but boss Paul Tisdale has been bullish in the press this week.
Exeter’s manager believes the squad is the strongest it’s been for five years following their summer spending and even suggested they’re in a better position than when they were in League One. Will Hoskins has settled well since signing and joined a forward line alongside the likes of Tom Nichols, David Heeler, Joel Grant, Alex Nicholls and Clinton Morrison. The Grecians aren’t short of firepower.
I fully expect Exeter to make a push on the top-seven this season and I’m happy to get Both Teams To Score onside for Saturday’s duel with Orient. Favourit have made it a 1.73 play; short enough but still worthy of a punt – since the start of last season, BTTS has proven profitable in 18/25 (72%) of Exeter’s home league fixtures. The hosts have only failed to score in four of those fixtures, keeping just five clean sheets.
I’ve already mentioned Orient’s knack of getting goals but it’s worth pointing out they’ve leaked three in trips to struggling Dagenham and Newport so it’s easy to see why Exeter should be more than capable of joining the Both Teams To Score party. Had this price been based on the Grecians profitable BTTS record at home since the start of 2014/15, we’d be offered just 1.39, meaning the 1.73 is most definitely a decent play.
Northampton v Dagenham & Redbridge | Saturday 15.00
Northampton tend to dominate this fixture. The last 10 head-to-head duels have ended with W9-D1-L0 results in favour of the Cobblers but, as seems customary with the Sixfields side, they’re currently in the midst of another ugly run.
Having opened their account with successive three-pointers, Chris Wilder’s charges have taken just a point from a possible nine. During 2014/15, Northampton managed five wins on the spin once but also suffered 10 losses in 12; they’re a streaky sort of team and there’s further evidence of this in their home record – their last eight at Sixfields have alternated between victory and defeat whilst it’s now 14 games since they recorded a draw in front of their home fans.
On paper, the Cobblers should be challenging for the top-seven relatively comfortably. The dour-faced Wilder has an excellent front four and enough clout at the back to keep the door locked on opposition defences. But too often now, sloppy errors are proving their downfall and I’m finding it hard to trust them. So yeah, there’s no way in hell I’d be plumping for the hosts at 3/4 on Saturday.
Visiting Dagenham are always unfancied, always written off and always underrated in the markets. They’ve made a winless start but they’re often slow starters at this level and boss Wayne Burnett’s been relatively pleased with how his side have performed since their 3-1 home defeat to Leyton Orient.
The Daggers didn’t do a huge amount wrong when going down 2-1 to Exeter but late goals have cost them in a 1-1 draw at high-flying Wycombe and fellow basement battlers Stevenage last time out. And whilst the Londoners have failed to keep their sheets clean in five League Two encounters, they’ve at least managed to net in each of their last four.
Jamie Cureton remains a serious goal-poacher at this level despite turning 40 with Ashley Hemmings and Kane Ferdinand both capable of getting forward from midfield. So I’m not overly surprised to see, under Burnett’s watch, the Daggers have only failed to score in 13/54 (24%) away league games.
That’s led to a rather healthy 33/54 (61%) of Both Teams To Score winners and so I’m keen to get involved with the 1.85 from Favourit on a repeat this Saturday. Northampton boast plenty of attacking threats and netted in 22/25 (88%) of League Two fixtures at Sixfields’ under Wilder and will play their part as hosts.
Scunthorpe v Blackpool – Scunthorpe -0.75 Asian Handicap (1.80 Favourit)
Exeter v Leyton Orient – Both Teams To Score (1.73 Favourit)
Northampton v Dagenham & Redbridge – Both Teams To Score (1.85 Favourit)
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