FOOTBALL LEAGUE expert Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) returns to share his favourite fancies from Tuesday night's matches.
Blackpool v Crawley | Tuesday 19:45
Blackpool boss Gary Bowyer insists Tuesday night’s tussle with Crawley is “just another game” despite seeing the Seasiders drop down to 14th in the League Two standings following their weekend 1-1 draw with Colchester.
The Tangerines are now eight points outside of the top-seven but this midweek’s fixture is the perfect opportunity to reduce that gap with an overdue positive result. Blackpool are winless in 2017 but it hasn’t been for the want of trying.
Bowyer’s boys bombarded Colchester’s goal on Saturday, firing in 22 efforts and winning the shots on-target count 8-4 against their in-form visitors. However, sloppy defensive play and profligate finishing again combined to thwart any potential progress.
Blackpool lost midfielder Jim McAlister to a broken leg in the Colchester encounter and there are doubts over the fitness of Brad Potts following his return from injury. But Colin Daniel and Kelvin Mellor are able replacements and the form of teenager Bright Osayi-Samuel is another positive to cling to.
The Seasiders haven’t quite adjusted to their new 3-5-2 system at Bloomfield Road but I do fancy the hosts to enhance their W5-D5-L3 home record with a victory here. The 4/5 available on a home success is well worth supporting at BetStars.
Only Portsmouth are averaging more shots per-game than Blackpool with only six League Two clubs landing more attempts on-target. The Tangerines also feature heavily towards the top of both categories when viewing home records whilst their 54.01% shots on-target ratio return is eighth best in the division.
Since mid-October, Crawley have managed W5-D1-L9 to slide down the league standings. Only three of the 16 points earned in that sample came on their travels and the Red Devils have W2-D1-L9 when playing outside of Sussex since August.
On Saturday, Dermot Drummy saw his troops chuck away a one-goal lead at home to Stevenage with the Town manager pulling no punches in his post-match dealings with the press, saying:
“They were on the front-foot and looked like the home side and we looked like we were the away side. We were chasing the ball all-game. We are disappointed in our performance, the players know it and it’s not the way I want to play our football.
“We've had two bad performances and we've also had many good performances and we've got to get back to the good performances. We've got to sit down as a group, regroup and ask why.”
Crawley’s only shots on-target came from their goal, a penalty by in-form James Collins. And whilst the guests boast the league’s worst road record, they’ve also returned the division’s lowest shots on-target ratio figure (39.11%), the second-fewest average shots on-target per-game and the third-lowest shots average per-game.
Leyton Orient v Morecambe | Tuesday 19:45
Leyton Orient are now onto their fourth manager of the season – and 10th since 2004 – as the capital club battle to keep their unbroken 112-year stay in the Football League alive.
Danny Web saw the O’s tumble to a fifth successive league loss on Saturday in his first game in the hot-seat having seen Orient take the lead against promotion-chasing Carlisle.
The new head coach admitted he took away some positives from the performance, particularly in terms of attitude. Webb has now demanded the same intensity from his troops for Tuesday night’s crunch clash with fellow strugglers Morecambe at Brisbane Road.
However, it’s almost impossible to trust the hosts at prices hovering around the 6/4 mark. Orient have W4-D2-L15 since mid-September, kept four clean sheets all season, lost 11/15 home league fixtures and saw Jay Simpson, Jordan Bowery, Harry Cornick and Alan Dunne all move on in January.
Off the field, O's owner and all-round idiot Francesco Becchetti is looking to sell the club and the Orient Fans' Trust are so concerned about Orient's financial status they are preparing a ‘disaster recovery' plan to be shared with their members at their next meeting in March.
It has all led to former manager Martin Ling describing the club as “a madhouse” and makes any sort of positivity hard to grasp. We can only sympathies with loyal Orient supporters.
However, this is a betting game and there’s money to be made opposing the O’s here. Tuesday’s visitors Morecambe can be backed at 22/19 (188BET) off a 0 start on the Asian Handicap market – a selection that would see our stake returned if the game ends all-square.
Had you backed the Shrimps to win each of their away games this season with a £10 stake, you’d be up £80.00 at this junction with a very respectable W5-D4-L4 record on the road. I certainly wouldn’t dismiss any brave punter backing the 21/10 (Betway) for another away day success here.
Morecambe manager Jim Bentley was again close to tears on Saturday, overwhelmed by the reaction of players and supporters to the club’s recent problems. Confusion still surrounds the future ownership of the club and players went without pay for the second time this season.
The squad had back-to-back free Saturdays to prepare for their trip to league leaders Doncaster on Saturday but barely able to train on grass due to adverse weather and with artificial pitches locked up due to lack of funds, the Shrimps have barely been able to get on the training paddock.
However, there’s a wonderful spirit in the club that’s shone through in recent weeks. Their draw at Doncaster has come alongside a point earned at Carlisle and victory sealed at Mansfield in games as guests since Christmas, suggesting the players and management are all pulling in the right direction.
Morecambe will be bolstered by the return of central defender Dean Winnard from suspension but Andy Fleming is still banned for this match. Considering the Shrimps have kept only two clean sheets on their travels this season, I felt keeping the draw onside was worthwhile as we’re still picking up an odds-against price.
Blackpool v Crawley – Blackpool to win (4/5 BetStars)
Leyton Orient v Morecambe – Morecambe 0 Asian Handicap (22/19 188BET)