Accrington vs Northampton | Saturday 6th February 2021, 15:00
At some point soon, Accrington Stanley must be taken seriously in the League One promotion race. John Coleman’s charges are eight points off the third-tier summit with three games in-hand over their rivals yet the Reds are rated as 9/1 shots to reach the Championship and unfancied 33/1 plays to take top honours in the division.
Tuesday night’s demolition job of Bristol Rovers (6-1) was Accy’s 11th league success in their last 19 outings and the minnows rank fifth in League One in terms of points per-game at this stage. The hosts have now earned maximum points in seven of 11 Crown Ground encounters, including all four when welcoming sides inside the bottom-10 this term.
Next up is beleaguered Northampton here on Saturday and Stanley are underappreciated in the pre-match markets as a 4/5 (SBK) poke. The Cobblers have W0-D1-L11 when taking on top-half teams following promotion by a disgraceful combined aggregate score of 2-27.
No League One side has fired more blanks than Town – 13/24 (54%) in 2020/21 – and Keith Curle’s team travel to an Accrington side that’s kept their sheets clean in 10/22 (45%) tussles. Simply scoring might prove too tall a hurdle for Northampton and I’m happy to oppose the strugglers who’ve won just once since the beginning of December.
Newport vs Grimsby | Saturday 6th February 2021, 15:00
Newport’s promotion push has derailed since Halloween. The Exiles have pocketed only three triumphs in their past 14 league fixtures, and none in eight since early December. Admittedly, County have only played just twice at Rodney Parade in their past nine outings due to postponements, but there’ll be little home comforts on Saturday.
Michael Flynn’s men endured a tumultuous January with numerous regulars departing and seven new arrivals arriving at the club. But arguably the most significant factor for Newport ahead of their encounter with Grimsby is the state of the home side’s pitch.
Annually around this time of year, Rodney Parade tends to get cut up and is more akin to a bog than a pristine professional surface. With the Exiles proponents of an attractive ball-playing style at the start of the season, Flynn’s already accepted his County side are going to have to find a new way of playing to combat the conditions.
To make matters worse, the town’s rugby team will be playing on the surface on Friday night, potentially leaving things in an almost unusable state for Saturday’s clash. Therefore, I’m happy to support a low-scoring game here with Under 2.5 Goals taking particular appeal at 17/20 with Marathon.
It might surprise a few but this meeting pits together two teams in the bottom-seven for Expected Goals (xG) from open play production in League Two, whilst Grimsby make the long journey to Wales having claimed a solitary success since Halloween, scoring only twice in six matches since Boxing Day. The Marines have also been nilled in seven of 13 away.
Tranmere vs Port Vale | Saturday 6th February 2021, 15:00
Tranmere have made significant progress under the astute leadership of Keith Hill. The well-run club were unfortunate to be demoted following the COVID crisis last season and took their time settling back into life in the fourth-tier. However, Hill’s arrival in the dugout has sparked an interesting rival that sees Rovers just four points off the top.
The Wirral side have tabled five successive triumphs across all competitions and come into their clash with Port Vale on the back of a W10-D2-L3 run of results dating back to the beginning of November. What’s more, Tranmere have earned top honours in nine of their last 11 encounters at Prenton Park, whilst posting W9-D3-L1 against bottom-half teams.
Vale have endured a disappointing campaign. The Potteries outfit were viewed as potential promotion prospects in pre-season but have suffered a demoralising downturn since November (W3-D4-L10). The visitors are languishing in the bottom-half and head here having pocketed a sole success in nine away days, six of which have ended in defeat.
I’m therefore happy to support the hosts at 6/5 (William Hill) on Saturday.
Accrington vs Northampton – Accrington to win (4/5 SBK)
Newport vs Grimsby – Under 2.5 Goals (17/20 Marathon)
Tranmere vs Port Vale – Tranmere to win (6/5 William Hill)