EIGHTEEN (72%) of Mark O'Haire's 25 weekend Football League columns have made us money this season. Here's his three to follow on Saturday.
Shrewsbury v Bradford | Saturday 15:00
Bradford occupy fourth-place in League One and sit seven points adrift of the top-two. It’s fair to say the Bantams failures in the final third and their penchant for draws are holding them back from a serious automatic promotion push. T
he West Yorkshire side have shared the spoils in 12/26 (46%) of their league outings with 11 of those fixtures finishing in either the 0-0 (15%) or 1-1 (27%). No third-tier team has lost fewer games (3) than Stuart McCall’s charges but conversely, Bradford’s win-rate (42%) is the second-worst in the top-10.
So I’m surprised to see the Bantams chalked up as odds-on favourites on Saturday. Since promotion back to League One, the visitors have finished in the top-half in all three seasons but their win-rate on the road is 36% across their 81 road trips, implying odds of 9/5 would be more appropriate here.
City have claimed only three league triumphs in games as guests since mid-August whilst only Oxford have scored fewer goals. And since 2009 the visitors have have picked up a solitary point from four trips to face Shrewsbury.
The Shrews are no world beaters but Paul Hurst deserves a lot of credit for steering the Salop ship out of the relegation zone. The W3-D3-L5 return is far from spectacular but considering the hosts had W2-D3-L9 from their 14 games prior to his arrival, it’s a major improvement.
The former Grimsby boss has worked wonders on the defence, too. Shrewsbury have kept three clean sheets in their last four home league matches – the same amount as their previous 27 – and that newfound resilience should stand them in good stead on Saturday.
It’s likely to be a tight, defensive and ugly scrap at The New Meadow and I’m happy to chuck my support behind the Shrews here in the Asian Handicap market. I can’t find any evidence to suggest Bradford are worthy of their odds-on tag and so Salop +0.50 is the play at 21/20 (BetVictor).
Newport County v Colchester | Saturday 15:00
I’m pleased to say we identified Colchester’s rejuvenation early on and we’ve managed to take advantage by profiting regularly in the past few weeks so I’m not prepared to abandon the Essex raiders just yet.
John McGreal’s men extended their unbeaten run to eight (W7-D1-L0) with a wonderful 4-1 thumping of promotion contenders Carlisle last time out, Kurtis Guthrie grabbing a hat-trick. It’s now five straight wins for ColU who’ve flown up the League Two standings to cement their place in the top-seven.
The switch to 3-5-2 has certainly paid dividends and odds of 5/4 (William Hill) for another three points just can’t be ignored this weekend.
Newport have been beaten in 18/34 (53%) Rodney Parade encounters since the start of last season and early optimism following Graham Westley's arrival has evaporated following a 10-match winless run.
The Exiles have been beaten in each of their last eight and whilst the hosts have scored in 11 of their previous 13, the concession of at least two goals in nine of those fixtures is a big reason behind their position at the bottom of the Football League.
Westley’s been working hard to turnover the playing staff in search of an answer. Five new signings started in their 3-1 reverse at Stevenage last weekend with another new face making a debut from the bench – the lack of familiarity in the first XI is just another factor behind my decision to support Colchester here.
Carlisle v Morecambe | Saturday 15:00
- Carlisle have W10-D12-L3 in their last 25 league games, scoring in 24/25 ((96%) and keeping only 5/25 (20%) clean sheets.
- Carlisle have W8-D3-L1 at home this season, scoring in 12/12 but keeping only 3/12 clean sheets.
- Carlisle have seen 22/25 (88%) league games feature Over 1.5 Goals, 15/25 (60%) league games produce Over 2.5 Goals and 19/25 (76%) bank for Both Teams To Score backers.
- Carlisle have seen 10/12 (83%) home games feature Over 1.5 Goals, 7/12 (58%) home games produce Over 2.5 Goals and 9/12 (75%) bank for Both Teams To Score backers.
- Carlisle have scored 2+ goals in 7/12 (58%) at home but also conceded 2+ goals in 4/12 at home (33%).
- Carlisle have seen Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score in 10/13 matches recently, including the last 6 at home.
- Carlisle matches are averaging 3.24 goals per-game, and 3.33 goals per-game at home this season.
- Morecambe have W9-D3-L12 in their 24 league games, scoring in 17/24 (71%) and keeping only 4/24 (17%) clean sheets.
- Morecambe have W5-D2-L4 away this season, scoring in 9/11 (82%) but keeping only 2/11 (18%) clean sheets.
- Morecambe have seen 21/24 (88%) league games feature Over 1.5 Goals, 16/24 (67%) league games produce Over 2.5 Goals and 14/24 (58%) bank for Both Teams To Score backers.
- Morecambe have seen 9/11 (82%) away games feature Over 1.5 Goals, 7/11 (64%) away games produce Over 2.5 Goals and 7/11 (64%) bank for Both Teams To Score backers.
- Morecambe have scored 2+ goals in 6/11 (55%) away but also conceded 2+ goals in 7/11 away (64%).
- Morecambe have seen Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score in 5/7 matches recently, including 7/9 away.
- Morecambe matches are averaging 3.04 goals per-game, and 3.00 goals per-game away this season.
Shrewsbury v Bradford – Shrewsbury +0.50 Asian Handicap (21/20 BetVictor)
Newport v Colchester – Colchester to win (5/4 William Hill)
Carlisle v Morecambe – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (20/23 Coral)