MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) has scoured the Football League coupon on Saturday to deliver his three favourite bets.
Swindon v Peterborough | Saturday 15.00
Swindon are in a mess. The Robins were well beaten by old rivals and League Two outfit Oxford in the Johnstone Paint Trophy on Tuesday night to make it W0-D1-L5 from their last six outings.
Mark Cooper’s men have managed just the one clean sheet in 14 matches this term and the current crop are a million miles away from the team that wowed us all the way to the play-off final in 2014/15. Nine of the players to feature in that Wembley loss have moved on and now a severe selection crisis has gripped the County Ground.
At the time of writing, Swindon will go into their Peterborough showdown on Saturday with Raphael Branco the only fit central defender available. The appeal to overturn Jordan Turnbull’s midweek red card has been rejected and with Louis Thompson on international duty and Brad Barry added to the increasing injury list, the hosts will be without 11 players to face the Posh.
Cooper joked he may have to play with eight forwards at the weekend, saying “We’ve got to somehow piece a team together before then. Looking at it we’ll have to play two at the back and eight up front and just go for it at the minute. We have one centre-half fit at the club so we have to find a way of doing something.”
The manager himself has come in for criticism following a few bizarre team selections and substitutes whilst a rumoured rift in the management team doesn’t bode well. Chairman Lee Power is far from blameless too and his recruitment has left the squad unbalance in key positions and in quality too.
The Robins have lost their last three County Ground encounters in League One and intriguingly, have scored nine of their 16 league goals when Nathan Byrne was at the club. His subsequent deadline day move to Wolves has blunted the offence and coupled with their haphazard defending, Swindon just have to be opposed.
Peterborough surprised many when appointing Graham Westley as Dave Robertson’s successor. Westley, accustomed to direct, physical, long-ball tactics is the polar opposite to ‘the Posh way’ of free-flowing, attacking football. But, I for one, am a fan of the former Stevenage manager and an open letter to Posh fans suggested he’s keen to acclimatise and meet those requirements.
Westley curiously set a target of ‘beyond 600 passes-per-game, leading to 25+ attempts at goal’ in each match and early indicators have shown a marked improvement as Peterborough go about their business under his watch.
Posh were 2-0 winners at Bradford before being out-gunned 3-2 at home to Bury. Last weekend they overcame Millwall 5-3 in a rip-snorter and their shot count in those three fixtures has increased from 14 to 18 and then 22 efforts. The visitors’ nine-goal haul in those three matches also suggest they’ll have no trouble finding the net against a patched up Swindon side.
Posh are 2.40 with Favourit to take maximum points from Wiltshire and I’m willing to count on Westley’s charges getting the job done after a full week on the training paddock to prepare. As I’ve said, Swindon just have to be opposed right now.
Oldham v Scunthorpe | Saturday 15.00
I put the boot into Oldham last weekend and they burgled an entertaining 3-3 draw at Gillingham to scupper our selection on a home win. David Dunn’s since been handed the reigns at Boundary Park on a permanent basis but I still can’t help but feel, they’re just not that great.
No Football League side has played continuously in the same division as long as Oldham and after 18 successive seasons in the third tier, I’d still be willing to say they’ll fighting against the drop when April rolls around.
Five of the bottom seven clubs are tied on 11 points and that includes Oldham and their Saturday guests Scunthorpe. The hosts have drawn eight of their 11 games, six of which ended one apiece. Their point at Gillingham was the first occasion since April 2014 that the Latics have scored more than once in a match but surprisingly, nine of their 11 League One outings have featured both teams scoring.
Since the Lancashire club opened their Boundary Park account for 2015/16 with a 1-0 success over Fleetwood, all four of their following home dates have producing winning Both Teams To Score bets and since the start of last season, a huge 19/28 (68%) have followed suit in front of their home fans.
Visitors Scunthorpe have lacked a clear identity this term and an influx of new signings in the summer has left Mark Robins with selection headaches and tactical dilemmas. The under-pressure boss has yet to settle on a preferred XI and although he boasts a group of players capable of challenging for top-six positions, he’s still searching for a solution.
At least at Glanford Park the Iron have proven resolute opposition. But away from their home comforts, Scunny have been far too easy to play against. The travellers are winless in 15 road fixtures (W0-D5-L10) and leaked a huge 45 goals in their past 22 away, failing to record a shutout.
Scunthorpe have in fact conceded two or more goals in each of their last 14 as guests but have managed to find the net themselves in all bar six of their 28 matches since promotion back to League One.
Paddy Madden isn’t the only threat the Iron carry in attack and with plenty of offensive weapons to deploy, Scunny have been involved in a huge 21/28 (75%) of BTTS winners since the start of the 2014/15 campaign.
Both Teams To Score is therefore the logical selection and available to back at a very attractive 1.83 with Favourit. Taking the two teams’ respective home/away BTTS records since the start of last season would suggest a 71.5% chance of a repeat – in betting terms that equates to a 1.40 shot, making this a huge value play.
Carlisle v Morecambe | Saturday 15.00
Kyle Dempsey’s summer departure for Huddersfield left many pundits suggesting a season of doom was likely to follow for Carlisle. But Keith Curle’s charges have defied 10/1 calls for relegation with an excellent first quarter in 2015/16.
As well as running Liverpool very close in the Capital One Cup, the Cumbrians have risen to the cusp of the play-off positions and their 1-0 win at Stevenage last time out gave the Blues a positive goal difference for the first time in 168 matches. The latter is quite an astonishing statistic but hey, they’re making progress.
Curle’s men are W2-D2-L1 at home and are likely to have their backers when Morecambe visit. The Shrimps finally did me justice in midweek, winning away at Bury at 5/1 quotes, and their League Two travel form reads an impressive W2-D2-L1. Jim Bentley’s boys’ penchant for away wins will ward me off calling this encounter.
Instead, a focus on goals is the most obvious solution. The 10 respective home/away games I mentioned in the previous paragraph have brought about a huge 36 goals in total and 7/10 winning Both Teams To Score selections. A repeat is backabale at 7/10 with Favourit and that still offers a decent smidgen of value.
Carlisle have scored in all bar one of their League Two outings this term and can lay claim to a solitary clean sheet in those 11 matches. Naturally, nine BTTS winners have followed whilst their five Brunton Park fixtures have featured a huge 3.80 goals-per-game on average. Include their away games and that figure is still a very healthy 3.55 goals-per-game.
Since Curle took over the Cumbrians, Carlisle have seen Both Teams To Score bank in 15/24 (63%) of their matches when entertaining league opposition, scoring in all bar three of those games but keeping their sheets clean on only six occasions.
Morecambe take the tag for boasting League Two’s highest scoring matches. Their 11 league duels have brought about a gigantic 3.73 goals-per-game with their five road trips producing 3.40 goals-per-game. Last time out, Bentley’s boys were edged out 4-3 by a normally stingy Bristol Rovers whilst seven of their last eight have proven profitable for Both Teams To Score backers.
As well as the duos record for churning out goal-hungry games, Carlisle and Morecambe lead the way in the shots-on-target stakes with more on-target efforts recorded in their fixtures than any other League Two outfit. It would take a brave soul to bet against goals on Saturday.
Swindon v Peterborough – Peterborough to win (2.60 Favourit)
Oldham v Scunthorpe – Both Teams To Score (1.83 Favourit)
Carlisle v Morecambe – Both Teams To Score (1.70 Favourit)
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