Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his favourite bets ahead of Wednesday night’s Johnstone Paint Trophy action.
Southend v Bristol Rovers | Wednesday 19.45
Southend manager Phil Brown was furious with his side’s defending (and the referee) as the Shrimpers lost 2-1 at Scunthorpe in the FA Cup on Saturday. The former Hull boss was sent to the stands late on for his protests but raged post-match about the Blues inability to defend set-pieces.
“It was exactly the same as last week and we didn’t defend corners properly. I’ve stuck with my centre halves and I’ve stuck with my goalkeeper too but maybe it’s time for a personnel change now.
“Two and half years I’ve been here and we’ve never had a problem defending set pieces during that time. But all of a sudden we can’t win the first ball or the second ball either and it’s bobbling around our six yard box.
“For me it’s about bottle and if you can’t handle balls coming into your penalty area as a centre half then you’re going to be in trouble.”
So Brown’s likely to rotate his troops ahead of their Roots Hall clash with Bristol Rovers in the southern area quarter-finals of the Johnstone Paint Trophy this midweek. But don’t let that put you off the Essex outfit with 5/4 quotes on the hosts from Betfred available.
The 56-year-old has taken the competition seriously from the outset and will be looking for an immediate response from his squad before a trip to Sheffield United at the weekend. Since promotion from League Two, Blues have W6-D5-L5 with W6-D2-L3 across the most recent 11 outings.
At Roots Hall, Southend boast a strong W4-D1-L1 in recent weeks and including last season, the Shrimpers have W16-D9-L6. It’s a strong enough pedigree, coupled with Brown’s demands to make amends from Saturday, that make the home side hold appeal at the prices.
Bristol Rovers hit the headlines for their own FA Cup exit. The Gas were dumped out at the first hurdle by Southern League minnows Chesham at the Memorial Stadium having missed a catalogue of chances. But the visitors, 75 places Rovers them in the football pyramid, also missed a penalty in that Sunday encounter.
The Pirates have claimed just three victories in 10 home games this season and have been reliant on their excellent away record, which is the strongest in League Two, for 19 of the 23 points they have collected. But should the Pirates be 5/2 to come out on top of a contest with the Shrimpers 24 positions higher in the Football League? I don’t think so.
Dagenham & Redbridge v Oxford | Wednesday 19.45
Both Dagenham and Oxford will be forced to go to replays in the FA Cup after weekend draws. The Daggers’ 0-0 stalemate when welcoming Morecambe was welcome relief for Wayne Burnett, stopping the rot of successive defeats but Oxford’s 1-1 at National Premier side Braintree wasn’t what Michael Appleton ordered.
The U’s wasted several chances after Ryan Taylor gave them an early lead in Essex and must now enter a spell of six games in 17 days having failed to progress on Saturday. Johnny Mullins’ dismissal and a booking for Ryan Taylor will see them both miss the trip to Dagenham and Appleton was unimpressed with his team.
“We won’t be pulling any punches when it comes to making sure the players are aware that we should have put the game out of sight. We should have won quite comfortably,” he said.
I expect Oxford to get back on the wagon on Wednesday even without Mullins and Taylor as centre back Chey Dunkley and skipper Jake Wright are both available again. The visitors have W10-D7-L3 in all competitions this term and unbeaten on the road since mid-September. Since Appleton arrived, the U’s have W12-D10-L9 in away League Two fixtures including W8-D5-L2 across their most recent 15.
On top of that, Oxford lead the way in the shots-on-target table and are out-shooting their opponents by 6.63-4.25 when it comes to efforts on goal in away matches. In contrast, just three clubs have landed fewer shots-on-target at home than Dagenham’s 3.25 average.
The Londoners bore draw with Morecambe on Saturday stemmed the bleeding slightly but W3-D7-L10 this term has seen many Daggers fans call for Burnett’s head. The hosts hold the league’s worst defensive record and are winless at home all season.
But rather than back Oxford at odds-on, I’m going to take Paddy Power’s 7/5 option on an Oxford win and Over 1.5 Goals. Their weekend 0-0 was only Dagenham’s third of 20 outings to feature fewer than two goals this season whilst Oxford have delivered two goals or more in six of their 20.
The travellers have notched at least twice in 10/31 (32%) of their road trips in league football under Appleton with Both Teams To Score also banking in their last five on the road.
Southend v Bristol Rovers – Southend to win (5/4 Betfred)
Dagenham & Redbridge v Oxford – Oxford to win and Over 1.5 Goals (7/5 Paddy Power)
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