MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) shares his three favourite fancies from Saturday’s second round FA Cup games.
Chesterfield v Walsall | Saturday 15.00
It’s been labelled the Caretaker Derby but my allegiance comfortably lies with Walsall, here.
Chants of ‘Who needs Mourinho? We've got our physio' rang around the away end of Shrewsbury’s New Meadow stadium on Tuesday night as the Saddlers brushed off the recent departure of Dean Smith by dispatching Salop 3-1 on the road.
The song was mildly tongue-in-cheek but the point remains a salient one. Smith’s superb work, over five years service, has left Walsall so well-drilled they almost don't need coaching.
Physio-turned-caretaker Jon Whitney was handed the reigns in midweek but John Ward is now acting boss whilst the surprise League One high-flyers search for Smith’s successor. And that midweek display suggested this group is keen to kick-on from their promising first third of 2015/16.
The Saddlers haven’t progressed to the third round since 2007/08 but the boys from the Bank’s are tight-nit bunch that can play a bit too. Arguably their biggest strength is their willingness to work and know their roles within a system. So arguably, their might not be too much upheaval.
What the visitors also boast is League One’s best away record (W6-D3-L1), the second best attack on the road and the strongest defence on their travels (five clean sheets in nine). Walsall lost Tom Bradshaw to injury in midweek but with 15 different goalscorers chipping in, the Welshman might not be missed.
The Saddlers are 3/4 in the Draw No Bet market with Boylesports and that’s a price and selection I like.
Chesterfield axed Dean Saunders following their recent 4-0 loss to Swindon, with the Welshman only lasting six months. It was their fourth straight reverse with 12 goals conceded across those luckless fixtures and the Spireites also lost full-back Dan Jones to a long-term injury during the latest debacle.
Grounded and affable academy manager Mark Smith has been asked to pick up the pieces and he’ll do well to stem a return of W2-D2-L6 at the Proact Stadium and the third tiers second worst home defence.
Yeovil v Stevenage | Saturday 15.00
Poor Paul Sturrock lasted just eight months at Yeovil before being asked to leave. The Glovers are battling a third consecutive relegation and have W20-D28-L64 of their last 112 league games since peaking with promotion to the Championship.
With injuries mounting, his task looked a tough one but nevertheless, Yeovil’s performance data was very poor. The Somerset side fired in the fewest number of shots, the fewest number of efforts on-target whilst also facing the third most shots in the division. No wonder they’re rock bottom with W2-D5-L13.
The Huish Park faithful will be hoping the FA Cup serves a welcome respite and Yeovil have progressed in each of their last five FA Cup ties against sides in the fourth tier. They’ve won three of their last four FA Cup games as hosts, only losing to 11-time winners of the competition Manchester United in that sequence.
Of course I can’t suggest a play on the hosts who’ve W0-D4-L8) of their last 12 and W1-D3-L6 of their 10 league outings at home. But I’m happy to back them getting on the scoresheet in a Both Teams To Score bet at the weird 14/19 price from 10Bet – it’s 1.74 in decimals so not too far off a 4/5 shot.
Since relegation, seven of Yeovil’s 10 have delivered in this market at Huish Park with opponents Stevenage following suit in 13/20 (65%) this term and in 8/10 on their travels under Teddy Sheringham.
The Boro are five fixtures unbeaten (W3-D2-L0), a run that started with their defeat of Gillingham in this competition with only two losses in nine. The visitors picked up a first away win of the season at Bristol Rovers before winning 4-3 at Morecambe in their last two outings with the club scored in each of their 10 consecutive FA Cup away matches.
Defensively they’re without a shutout on the road this term and although Yeovil aren’t in great shape, Ryan Bird and Harry Cornick have netted 12 goals between them and should be able to find a way to goal. So I’ll back BTTS at a decent price considering the probability of a repeat when taking into account both sides respective home/away records is 75%.
Portsmouth v Accrington Stanley | Saturday 15.00
I’ll keep this brief and there’s no need to go into too much detail – Accrington are underrated.
Yeah, it’s not an earth-shattering statement but it deserves a bit of airtime. John Coleman’s charges arrive at Fratton Park a point and a place above their more illustrious hosts despite playing a game less in League Two.
Stanley hold the league’s second best road record behind league leaders Oxford (W6-D2-L2) with six of those successes arriving in the past seven games and they’ve already churned out a goalless draw against Pompey on the south-coast. Yet we can back the visitors at 10/11 in the Double Chance market with Bet365. Bingo.
This is Portsmouth's first appearance in the second round of the FA Cup since 1982/83 following three first round defeats on the spin between 2012 and 2014. And Paul Cook’s troops have struggled to reward their loyal fans on home soil this season, toiling to a very average W3-D6-L1 at Fratton Park.
Pompey have won twice in 10 games against top-half teams this term and managed just 6/24 (25%) in 2014/15. So with just a 25% win rate over top-half teams since the start of last season, I’ll happily oppose the ante-post favourites and side with Stanley, here.
Chesterfield v Walsall – Walsall draw no bet (3/4 Boylesports)
Yeovil v Stevenage – Both Teams To Score (14/19 10Bet)
Portsmouth v Accrington Stanley – Accrington Stanley double chance (10/11 Bet365)
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