MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) has picked out two Football League fancies from Tuesday’s card.
Bury v Crewe | Tuesday 19.45
Just six of Crewe’s first-team squad were fit and available for a light training session on Monday morning as the Alex prepare for Tuesday night’s trip to Bury.
Steve Davis’ men saw midfielder Billy Bingham the latest player to join an extensive injury list, leaving the Railwaymen short of numbers this midweek. The visitors have just two central midfield players to choose from although James Jones is expected to overcome a knock to feature.
Lauri Dalla Valle, George Ray and skipper Harry Davis are all long-term absentees, while Ryan Wintle is also set for a month on the sidelines. And the Crewe boss admitted, he’d need to draft in a raft of youngsters from Monday’s U21 game against Nottingham Forest to fill the bench on Tuesday night.
The Alex were a touch fortunate to take a point off high-flying Wigan at the weekend and were out-shot 7-13 as well as 4-10 in the shots-on-target stakes. And it was a similar story in their previous away day as Swindon won the shot count 20-6 (11-4).
The rock-bottom visitors have taken 11 of their 21-point tally on their travels but their last five as guests have resulted in four defeats, shipping at least two goals in each clash. And it’s rather alarming to see the Railwaymen returning a ghastly 31.5% shots-on-target ratio figure when playing away.
Davis praised the form of Ryan Colclough and Brad Inman on Saturday and the Alex boss hasn’t ruled out partnership the pair together in attack as he looks to replace the goals and influence of Ryan Lowe. The 37-year-old saw his loan expire earlier this month and a return to South Cheshire is hanging in the balance.
Any move for Bury player Lowe will come after Tuesday night meaning the alternative is to persist with Marcus Haber leading the line. The Canadian struggled to get into the game against Wigan’s three centre-halves on Saturday as the visitors look to enhance a paltry goalscoring record of just 27 this term.
The hosts have seen their odds shrink in the past 24 hours so I’m keen to get this piece online as early as possible. With the Match Odds market now looking a little too skinny to enter, the next best bet is to back the Shakers off a -0.75 Asian Handicap at 11/12 with Marathon.
Backing this selection means, we’ll be in profit should Bury win. We’ll pocket a full pay-out should the Shakers win by two goals or more but if the home side only succeed by a solitary goal, we’ll see half our stake returned and the second half paying out at the advertised odds. The only way in which we won’t make money is if Crewe avoid defeat.
Since Davis took charge of the Railwaymen, Crewe have W4-D9-L29 League One trips to top-half teams, losing by at least two goals in 20/42 (48%). Bury are sitting outside the top-12 on goal difference and ended a wretched away run with three points in their derby at Oldham on Saturday.
Manager David Flitcroft was glowing with delight after that triumph with front-two Tom Pope and Leon Clarke causing the Latics defence all sorts of problems whilst on-loan goalkeeper Ian Lawlor continued his fine form.
That weekend victory followed up a heart display at Bradford in the FA Cup last midweek and since September the Shakers have returned W5-D2-L2 when welcoming league opposition.
David Flitcroft’s troops did suffer a 3-2 reverse at Gigg Lane to Walsall in their last outing in front of their home fans but the Saddlers scored with their only two efforts on-target and Bury won both the shot and shots-on-target count.
Skipper Nathan Cameron is back from suspension to bolster the Bury backline here and all points considered, the Shakers should have too much for a Crewe side struggling to field fit and able bodies.
Shrewsbury v Oldham | Tuesday 19.45
Who saw Shrewsbury upsetting the odds at Burton on Saturday? I doubt there were many…
Salop were 11/2 outsiders – the biggest-priced winners across all four English divisions – and secured the points thanks to super-sub Shaun Whalley’s winner in the third minute of added on time. The result lifted Micky Mellon’s men out of the relegation zone.
But Mellon was keeping his feet firmly on the ground after being frustrated by the alarming inconsistency of his team. He said, “It was a fantastic result and I was delighted to get the victory, but I still feel the same as I did last week in that there’s work to be done. We certainly showed the qualities needed to compete against a team riding high like Burton Albion and get a result.”
The Shrews made four changes from the team thumped 3-0 by Barnsley last weekend with full debuts handed out to new signings Richie Wellens, James Wallace and Kyle Vassell.
The Scotsman reverted to a back four and a diamond formation following the recent experiment with 3-5-2 and the visitors had little trouble containing the hosts, who suffered their first defeat under Nigel Clough and first at the Pirelli Stadium since September.
But could Tuesday night’s contest with fellow strugglers bring them back down to earth? Quite possibly. Shrewsbury have taken 62% of their points tally on their travels (W5-D3-L6), returning W3-D2-L3 at top-half clubs, but have struggled when hosting League One football.
Eight league losses from 13 at the New Meadow – including W0-D2-L3 from their last five – isn’t acceptable and only two clubs have picked up fewer points at home. The hosts have fired blanks in four of those fixtures and collected just two clean sheets whilst only four sides have enjoyed a lesser share of the total shots-on-target at home.
Oldham are still awaiting their first win of John Sheridan’s second stint in charge and are now eight points from safety. However, they’ve avoided defeat in 15/26 games (58%) as well as in 10 of their 12 away days (W2-D8-L2). The Latics have drawn a divisional-high 12 matches this term which suggests margins have been tight.
Goals are hard to come by but only three teams have leaked fewer goals than the visitors and I expect that solid foundation to be built upon under Sheridan. I also expect the results to improve, especially if they continue on the same path when playing away.
Oldham are posting a very reasonable 47% shots-on-target ratio figure away from Boundary Park and they look capable of getting something from Salop in midweek. With that in mind, the 15/16 (BetVictor) on the Latics +0.25 in the Asian Handicap appeals.
This selection essentially sees our stake split between Oldham in the Draw No Bet market and Oldham in the Double Chance market. So if the guests lose, we lose. But should Sheridan’s men win, we’ll be paid out in full with a draw seeing half our stake returned and half our stake paying out at the advertised odds.
Bury v Crewe – Bury – 0.75 Asian Handicap (11/12 Marathon)
Shrewsbury v Oldham – Oldham +0.25 Asian Handicap (15/16 BetVictor)
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