IT’S FA Cup second round time and Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the best bets for Salford’s clash with Hartlepool on Friday night.
Salford City v Hartlepool | Friday 19.55 | BBC2
Salford produced one of the shocks of the FA Cup first round when dumping out League Two opposition Notts County at their Moor Lane home in front of the televised cameras. Could lightning strike twice for the Football League as Hartlepool rock up for a second round fixture, live on BBC? Quite possibly.
Despite the 54-place gulf between the two clubs, the Monkey Hangers have a very recent history of embarrassing FA Cup exits on a Friday night on the box. Only last season they were eliminated by non-league opposition, losing 2-1 at home to Blyth Spartans.
That result saw Paul Murray sacked and the rebirth of Pools under Ronnie Moore. But the wily old character hasn’t been enjoying a very profitable 2015/16. After an initial bright start, Hartlepool have faded badly.
Friday’s guests have won just four of their 19 games this season and are League Two’s lowest scorers with just 19. To make matters worse, top goalscorer Billy Paynter is out injured and lively forward Kai Naismith unable to play to due to the terms of his loan.
Hartlepool haven’t reached the third round since 2011 and have lost six of their last eight on the road. Reports suggest a switch to 4-3-3 brought about an improved performance last time out but even then they were only rewarded with a 1-0 reverse at home to Oxford.
Confidence and belief is low amongst the Monkey Hangers group and their Blyth Spartans horror show may still be fresh in their memory. And they won’t be encouraged by the fact a non-league club has beaten League Two opposition in all three Friday night encounters since the start of last season.
Salford City can call upon a full squad and manager Anthony Johnson will look to play on the break once more. The Ammies created plenty against Notts County with former Premier League striker Danny Webber leading the line for the third-placed Evo-Stik Premier side.
I won’t waste oxygen on the ‘Class of 92’ angle – the media will be smothering you in that department – but I do believe the stars are aligning nicely in City’s favour on Friday night and they’re worth supporting at 3/4 with Ladbrokes in the Double Chance market – we’ll be paid out if the home team avoid defeat.
Salford City v Hartlepool – Salford City double chance (3/4 Ladbrokes)
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