FOOTBALL LEAGUE expert Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) returns to share his favourite fancies from Tuesday's coupon.
Southend v Peterborough | Tuesday 17th October 2017, 19:45
Southend manager Phil Brown believes the Shrimpers’ next two games will define their season. Following back-to-back away losses at Doncaster and Wigan, the Tango-tanned is determined to bounce back at Roots Hall on Tuesday.
Blues were a goal down but competing ably at the DW Stadium on Saturday before Jermaine McGlashan’s second-half red card for a two-footed challenge. Southend then gifted Wigan a second goal before ultimately conceding a third and suffering an ugly 3-0 reverse.
However, Brown is bullish about his team’s ability to get back to winning ways when they return to Essex to defend an unbeaten Roots Hall record in midweek against Peterborough.
Brown made five changes for the loss against the League One leaders and may tinker with his troops in response to a fifth defeat of the season. McGlashan is banned but Michael Turner could feature having recovered from injury with the hosts reporting no new selection concerns.
In contrast, Peterborough are likely to be without midfielder Michael Doughty and Junior Morias' again on Tuesday night as they seek to halt their free-fall down the table. Saturday’s shock 1-0 defeat at home to rock-bottom Gillingham was Posh’s third on the spin in league action.
Since starting the campaign with four wins from four, Grant McCann’s group have tabled only two triumphs in their following eight outings (W2-D2-L4); in four of those fixtures the visitors have shipped two goals or more and during the defeat to the Gills at London Road, the boss was abused by some supporters.
McCann’s targeted nine points from their final three encounters in October and whilst Posh have picked up a reasonable W2-D2-L1 from five away days this term, I’m still uneasy with the guests being chalked up as pre-match favourites for this one.
Peterborough are only marginally better off than Southend when viewing the shot ratio standings for League One with the Shrimpers comfortably above the away side when viewing Expected Goals data in total and from open play.
Indeed, Southend have suffered only 13/52 (25%) defeats at Roots Hall since promotion and look well worth supporting with a +0.25 start on the Asian Handicap line at 10/13 (BetVictor). We’ll make money should the hosts avoid defeat.
Posh can lay claim to a reasonable away record under McCann (W11-D7-L11) but this selection would have made money in 18/29 (62%) of those tussles. So even though the hosts will be without Anton Ferdinand, Ben Coker, Harry Kyprianou and Rob Kiernan, I’m happy keeping the Essex raiders onside.
Stevenage v Accrington | Tuesday 17th October 2017, 19:45
“We have disgraced ourselves. Our football club, our town and we deserve all of the obvious criticisms that are coming our way.”
Those were the words of Stevenage manager Darren Sarll after watching his side suffer a 7-1 shellacking at local rivals Luton on Saturday. The Boro boss even told reporters that were the transfer window open, every single member of the Stevenage team would be on the transfer list following their defeat.
It was the Hertfordshire club’s worst ever Football League reverse and Sarll must be hoping his stinging criticism will invoke a response from the squad as they prepare to entertain Accrington on Tuesday evening.
The loss was Boro’s second on the spin and promises to take a bit of shine what’s overall been a promising start to the season. Before the two setbacks, Stevenage had won three consecutive matches and they’re still sitting inside the top-10 after 13 fixtures (W6-D3-L4).
Sarll pinpointed Stevenage’s soft defending – alongside Luton’s clinical finishing -for the record reverse on Saturday and with clean sheets difficult to come by for Boro, I’m expecting a few more goals to follow here.
The hosts have managed to shutout only six teams at Broadhall Way since the start of last season with a healthy 18 (62%) of those 29 games paying out in the Both Teams To Score column. A repeat against Accrington can be backed at a very fair 31/40 (Sportingbet).
Stanley deservedly saw off Coventry at the Crown Ground on Saturday to stay within three points of the peak of League Two. Sean McConville grabbed the only goal of the game but also hit the crossbar and Billy Kee was also denied by the woodwork as the Lancastrians put the league’s best defence under serious strain.
John Coleman’s charges continue to defy pre-season predictions and have now W8-D2-L3 from their opening 13 outings. Goals have been a feature of those 13 encounters with nine banking for BTTS supporters and the same number also rewarding Over 2.5 Goals punters.
The Reds have claimed four triumphs on their travels this term (W4-D1-L1) but it’s goals we’re chasing and five of those six saw both sides get on the scoresheet. Accrington have seen an average of 3.17 goals per-game when on the road and I reckon they can play their part in another entertaining encounter here.
Cheltenham v Grimsby | Tuesday 17th October 2017, 19:45
Cheltenham saw their five-match unbeaten streak (W4-D1-L0) ended at Port Vale on Saturday but manager Gary Johnson is backing his squad to get back to winning ways when they welcome Grimsby to Whaddon Road on Tuesday.
The Robins boss has stated publicly that the play-offs are the aim for the Gloucestershire outfit this season having scrapped to survive relegation from League Two last term. And after taking only four points (W1-D1-L5) from their opening seven matches, many expected another campaign of toil for Town.
But Cheltenham’s young squad have responded well to early setbacks and have put in a number of impressive recent performances. The Robins are featuring prominently across all the major performance data metrics, have sharpened up in front of goal and produced a number of solid defensive displays.
The Port Vale defeat was disappointing – Town failed to deal with Tom Pope’s physicality and struggled against the long ball – but a return home should do the side good. The Robins have been excellent operators at Whaddon Road of late and should bring Kevin Dawson back into the starting XI here.
Home form was the basis for Cheltenham’s survival mission last season and the hosts have claimed top honours in 10 of their last 16 league outings here. And I reckon they’re worth backing at 23/20 (Betfair) to enhance that record against Grimsby this midweek.
The Mariners were held to a 0-0 draw by Crawley at Blundell Park last time out with Sam Jones’ missed penalty proving costly in a forgettable contest. Russell Slade fielded an unchanged team but the Cleethorpes club struggled to exert any authority in difficult conditions.
Grimsby have now suffered only one defeat in seven (W3-D3-L1) but the uninspiring action draw boss from home supporters. The visitors ineffectual forward displays – only Chesterfield and Forest Green average a worse xG return from open play – could leave them unstuck when they make the long journey to the south west.
In fairness, the Mariners have been reasonably watertight at the back but Ben Davies and Karleigh Osborne are rated major doubts for midweek, while a third player, who was unnamed, missed training ahead of the trip to Whaddon Road with trialist Reece Hall-Johnson signing as defensive cover.
Southend v Peterborough – Southend +0.25 Asian Handicap (10/13 BetVictor)
Stevenage v Accrington – Both Teams To Score (31/40 Sportingbet)
Cheltenham v Grimsby – Cheltenham to win (23/20 Betfair)