MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the best bets from the first round of the FA Cup this weekend.
AFC Wimbledon v Forest Green | Saturday 15.00
Wimbledon have a strong pedigree in the FA Cup and last season’s memorable tie with Liverpool will live long in the memory of Wombles fans. And the Dons could again play their part in a FA Cup classic on Saturday afternoon.
The Londoners have won three on the spin, moving Neil Ardley’s men to within touching distance of the top-seven. But the hosts have kept just two clean sheets in their last 16 League Two outings, leading to 11 winning Both Teams To Score selections.
Visitors Forest Green sit top of the National League but two defeats in three have stunted Adrian Pennock’s side progress. But the fifth-tier table toppers have smashed 33 goals in their 19 league encounters, only failing to notch once.
Defensively, the non-league outfit have played three without a shutout and should play their part in a winning BTTS bet at 14/19 with 10Bet – that’s 1.74 in decimals.
Altrincham v Barnsley | Saturday 15.00
Cupset alert!? I’ve documented Barnsley’s struggles for a weeks now so it would be rude to avoid them again on Saturday when they travel to non-league Altrincham, eh?
The Tykes are in the midst of their worst run for nearly 60 years having suffered seven losses on the spin. Lee Johnson’s men are mired in the relegation zone with just 14 points from 16 games and have W1-D1-L6 on their travels.
The visitors had failed to score in three before their midweek 4-3 loss at Coventry whilst the inexperienced defence are making too many basic errors. You get the impression this is the banana skin that may lead to Johnson’s dismissal, sadly.
Altrincham are one of the few non-league teams in history to knockout top-flight opposition in this competition and the Manchester-based club look promising 8/11 shots with Bet365 when giving a +1 start on the Asian Handicap line.
Should the home side avoid defeat, we’ll have ourselves a winner. If Barnsley win by a solitary goal, we get our cash back. The only way in which this bet loses is if the Tykes win by two or more goals.
Crawley v Luton | Saturday 15.00
Fifteen points from a possible 24 including 12 from their last 15 available has propelled Crawley away from the relegation zone in League Two. Mark Yates’ men have found their feet with Matt Harrold’s role in the centre-forward positioning proving pivotal.
Harrold netted twice as the Red Devils came from behind to beat Luton in their league meeting just a matter of weeks ago, the second of three successive victoties at the Broadfield Stadium. Rhys Murphy’s come alive alongside Harrold and now Crawley possess a front-two worthy of troubling most fourth-tier defences.
The hosts can be backed at 5/4 (Ladbrokes) in the Draw No Bet market on Saturday and that just looks a little too big, to me. Like Crawley, Luton have made a slow start to their season and their recent W2-D2-L2 return suggests John Still’s yet to find consistency in the pre-season favourites.
The Hatters are just a point better off than Yates’ charges in league football and have already been beaten at the Broadfield, as well as by Yeovil and Notts County this term whilst last weekend’s victory at Dagenham their first shutout on their travels.
Crewe v Eastleigh | Saturday 15.00
I like Crewe a lot and believe they’re more than capable of keeping their League One status this season.
Last weekend’s victory at a fancy price against Sheffield United (their first home win of the season) lifted the Railwaymen to within a win of safety but I can’t imagine they’ll be relishing Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Eastleigh.
The Spitfires have strong financial backing behind them and are looking to emulate the likes of Crawley and Fleetwood by spending their way into the Football League. Chris Todd's squad is filled with experience and the south-east side are heading in the right direction, epitomised by successes on the road at National League heavyweights Tranmere and Wrexham recently.
There’s still just about a smidgen of value in backing Eastleigh with a +0.50 Asian Handicap start at 9/10 with Bet365. We’ll be paid out should the non-league visitors avoid defeat at Gresty Road.
Dagenham v Morecambe | Saturday 15.00
Another Saturday, another Morecambe goals-based bet on the agenda.
The Shrimps are excelling on their travels with just two losses away from the Globe Arena – an opening day defeat at Hartlepool and last weekend’s reverse to league leaders Plymouth – and Jim Bentley’s troops remain fearsome operators in the final third.
Tom Barkuizen, Shaun Miller, Kevin Ellison, Paul Mullin and Jamie Devitt have all been giving opposition defences nightmares, racking up a league-high 31 goals and I like the idea of backing the Lancastrians to win and Both Teams To Score at 15/4 with Bet365.
Morecambe are the league’s second-top scorers away and the BTTS bet has banked in 10 of their last 13 fixtures with a huge total of 56 goals yielded across those encounters.
Dagenham are winless at Victoria Road this term with the pressure growing on Wayne Burnett. The Londoners hold the dubious honour of boasting the league’s worst defence but at least Both Teams To Score has come regularly – in six of their last eight outings.
Gainsborough v Shrewsbury | Sunday 14.00
Quite frankly, Shrewsbury are just too big too ignore here at 5/6 with Marathon.
The League One club may have lost six of their last eight games but with a three division gap separating the sides, you’d expect Micky Mellon’s men to be trading at a shorter price for Sunday’s duel.
Salop have W2-D2-L4 on their travels since promotion but have only been blanked twice on the road and should be well capable of keeping Gainsborough at bay.
The Conference North outfit arrive at this game on the back of three consecutive defeats including a 3-0 loss at Curzon last time out. That’s made it six losses in eight for the Lincolnshire club with the hosts failing to score in five of those contests.
Halifax v Wycombe | Sunday 14.00
Wycombe returned to winning ways at Mansfield last time out and last season’s beaten League Two play-off finalists look a good thing to progress to the second round on Sunday when visiting beleaguered Halifax.
The Chairboys are the best away team in the country since the start of 2014/15 (W17-D10-L3) and have already W4-D2-L1 on their league travels this term. Gareth Ainsworth’s men have kept 13/30 (43%) clean sheets across those games with eight of their victories by a margin of two goals or more.
Ladbrokes are letting us back Wycombe at 19/20 off a -1 Asian Handicap start. Should the visitors only beat Halifax by a goal, we’ll get our cash back. But should Wycombe win by two or more goals, we’ll be in profit.
The Shaymen sit bottom of the National League and have picked up a paltry 10 points from a possible 57 (W2-D4-L13). The hosts’ -25 goal difference is by far the worst in the top five divisions of English football and in their past seven league games (W1-D0-L6) they’ve been humped 7-1 by Cheltenham and 7-0 by Grimsby.
The home side are conceding nearly 2.50 goals-per-game on average and should be outclassed at The Shay.
Salford City v Notts County | Friday 19.45 | BBC2
Salford City have made rapid progress in the past year since the ‘Class of 92’ took over ownership and have reached the first round of the FA Cup for the very first time. But odds of 4/1 on the Lancastrians progressing at the first time of asking look far too kind against a club plying their trade three tiers above them.
Salford do have a smattering of Football League experience in their ranks but under the tutelage of joint-managers Antony Johnson and Bernard Morley they’ve managed just two home victories all season despite dumping out three-higher division sides on their way to this fixture.
The Northern Premier club will be desperate to impress but should County arrive ready to do business, the Magpies should be able to get the job done. The visitors may have posted a solitary road win this term but they head to Salford unbeaten in four and have scored in all bar two of their 17 games.
There’s plenty of experience in the visitors dressing room and in recent weeks head coach Ricardo Moniz has found stability and consistency in defence. Notts have beaten Huddersfield and gave Aston Villa a real run for their money in the League Cup and should justify their 3/4 (BetVictor) tag as favourites on Friday night.
Salford City v Notts County – Notts County to win (3/4 BetVictor)
AFC Wimbledon v Forest Green – Both Teams To Score (14/19 10Bet)
Altrincham v Barnsley – Altrincham +1 Asian Handicap (8/11 Bet365)
Crawley v Luton – Crawley draw no bet (5/4 Ladbrokes)
Crewe v Eastleigh – Eastleigh +0.50 Asian Handicap (9/10 Bet365)
Dagenham v Morecambe – Morecambe to win and Both Teams To Score (15/4 Bet365)
Gainsborough v Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury to win (5/6 Marathon)
Halifax v Wycombe – Wycombe -1 Asian Handicap (19/20 Ladbrokes)
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