IT'S FA Cup Third Round Saturday. We asked Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) to find us three bets.
Blyth Spartans v Birmingham | Saturday 15:00
It's a classic FA Cup tie. Non-league minnows up against an established Football League side.
Blyth Spartans have performed heroics in getting this far in the competition but surely the dream ends here. Spartans sit 16th in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, that's the seventh tier of English football.
Their opponents Birmingham are 14th in the Championship and have been in excellent form since they appointed Gary Rowett as manager. The Blues have lost just twice in their last 10 games and have beaten Watford, Reading and Nottingham Forest (twice) in that spell. They have conceded in five of their last six games and that backs up the bet I like here.
Blyth have already risen to the occasion against the Football League sides in the competition this year with a 2-1 win over Hartlepool in the Second Round and the players must be buzzing for this fixture.
This Cup run seems to have inspired their league performances too as they've won seven of their last eight matches. A defeat to Whitby Town last week could be put down to the fact the side are focussed on this game.
I think there's enough evidence to suggest they can score here so I'm revisiting my favourite market, Over 0.5 Goals. It's never let me down! Betway go Evens on Blyth scoring on Saturday and I'll get involved with that.
Derby v Southport | Saturday 15:00
You can trace the decline of the FA Cup in the puzzle it presents with regard to betting choices. Which sides will be taken it seriously? Who really wants to win? 10 years ago it was only the top sides who would rest players, now it's Championship teams.
Derby are 1/6 with BetVictor to beat Southport on Saturday and that should be a foregone conclusion. County tend to take the Cup competitions a bit more seriously than their counterparts and they should smash up the Vanarama Premier side.
The handicap markets don't really offer value on Derby so I'll look at Total Goals odds. I'm expecting Derby to win by two or three in this match so exactly three or four goals in the fixture looks the play.
Steve McLaren's side are averaging just under two goals per game in the league but up against a fifth-tier side you'd expect that figure to double.
Southport have notched 28 goals in their 26 league matches this season and it's debatable whether they can score at the IPro on Saturday. The 3-4 goal line looks about right and I'm backing it at 6/5 with Sportingbet.
Rochdale v Nottingham Forest | Saturday 15:00
Things won't end well for Stuart Pearce at Nottingham Forest. It looked an odd situation when he turned them down initially and then waited till the summer before taking the reins after his April appointment. After an excellent start, it's unravelling quickly.
Back on September 17th they sat top of the table after winning five of their opening seven fixtures. Since then they've won just two of their next 17 and have plummeted to 11th in the table. It's looking grim.
On Saturday they face League One Rochdale and although Keith Hill's men have been in disappointing form recently they're still having an excellent season.
Dale are up in 8th in the table which is excellent for a club of it's size. I think they'll be relishing this contest against weak Forest and I can see them putting in a good show.
I'll back Rochdale +1 at 8/11 with Bet365. As long as they avoid defeat I get paid out.
Blyth Spartans v Birmingham – Blyth Spartans to score Over 0.5 Goals (Evens Betway)
Derby v Southport – Exactly 3 or 4 Goals (6/5 Sportingbet)
Rochdale v Nottingham Forest – Rochdale +1 (8/11 Bet365)