THERE’S a full card of League One and League Two action on Tuesday night. We asked Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) to point out the best value bets.
Bury v Scunthorpe | Tuesday 19.45
Bury cemented their place in the top-six of League One with a hard-earned 1-0 victory over Burton on Saturday, a result and performance that had manager David Flitcroft glowing.
The Shakers, who’ve lost just once at Gigg Lane all season, had been beaten in three of their previous four matches going into the weekend, but bounced back impressively to defeat their high-flying rivals.
Having enjoyed great success with an all-out attack philosophy thus far, Flitcroft’s charges showed plenty guts and resolve to record only their fifth clean sheet since promotion ahead of Tuesday night’s tussle with Scunthorpe.
Following a run of six victories in seven, the Iron have slipped to successive defeats, the latest a 2-0 home loss to in-form Bradford. Boss Mark Robins declared himself disappointed and frustrated with Scunny’s display, admitting the Bantams were the better team on the day.
The visitors were sloppy in a 2-1 reverse to Swindon a week previously and Robins has told his players to get back to ‘fighting and scrapping’ as they prepare to travel over the M62 this midweek. But could their dip in performance and results have anything to do with the expiration of Murray Wallace’s loan? Possibly.
The centre-half returned to Huddersfield at the start of the month and having shut out their opponents in three of their previous six, the Iron have now leaked five in three ahead of a showdown with League One’s hottest strike pairing.
Bury boast arguably the best attacking partnership in the third tier; Tom Pope top scored for Port Vale for three consecutive seasons and is joined by Leon Clarke, who’s already notched 11 goals this term. Will the visitors be able to keep the hot-shot duo quiet? I suspect not.
Bury are a big price at 13/8 (William Hill) to take maximum points but I prefer to back the 10/7 (888) on the Shakers netting Over 1.5 Goals. They’ve done so in 5/9 (56%) Gigg Lane games since returning to League One and are coming up against a Scunthorpe side that’s kept just two clean sheets in 32 away matches since the start of last season.
What’s more, the Iron have leaked at least two goals in 17 of their previous 18 away days and 23/32 (72%) on their travels since the start of last season.
The 10/7 is just too big to ignore and offers better value that the Match Odds market – despite their defensive toils, Scunthorpe have scored at least twice in 15/32 (47%) on the road, failing to net at all on only six occasions, meaning two Shakers goals may not even be enough to record a victory.
Port Vale v Blackpool | Tuesday 19.45
It’s almost nine years since Port Vale last recorded four successive League One wins but Rob Page’s men can equal that return on Tuesday night with three points against Blackpool at Vale Park.
Saturday’s 3-1 success over Chesterfield on Saturday was their third win eight days having been forced to face Maidenhead in an FA Cup replay on Thursday night. The Valiants hadn't played two games in less than 48 hours since the end of the 2000-01 season.
And Page even revealed his players paid for their own hotel rooms after the FA Cup win so they could recover and train better in time for the Chesterfield game rather than have to travel back on the coach on Thursday night.
There’s a real confidence and professionalism surrounding the group now and with Vale sitting just four points adrift of the play-offs and nine clear of the bottom-four, supporters are starting to dream.
Ajay Leitch Smith’s found form alongside Louis Dodds in attack and defensively the Burslem club are rated amongst the top-half. It’s a handy combination. However, outstanding goalkeeper Jak Alnwick is a doubt for Tuesday night but midfield marauder Michael O'Connor should be fit to face Blackpool.
I like Port Vale at the 9/10 quotes. Since Page took charge, their home form has remained strong – W13-D7-L8 – and when facing teams below 10th in the League One table this term their record reads W6-D3-L1. But I’m going to be bold and back the hosts to lead at half-time and full-time at 39/18 with 888.
Of the aforementioned 13/28 (46%) home league wins under Page, Vale led before half-time on eight occasions. And looking at this season alone, the hosts have been in front at the interval in five of their nine fixtures at Vale Park whilst their overall W6-D10-L2 half-time record overall is the fourth best in the division.
Visitors Blackpool have lost six on the spin and are finding goals hard to come by. The Seasiders are officially the worst scorers in League One with a paltry 15 to their name. Only five players have scored a league goal this season.
Neil McDonald’s men have struggled with injuries and suspensions in recent weeks but there’s no excuse for their awful away form either (W1-D2-L6). That sole success came when they were totally outplayed at Scunthorpe and nicked a winner and they’ve already failed to net in five games on their travels.
The Tangerines are averaging just two shots-on-target away and facing close to seven. They’ve been behind at the break in seven games this term and although only three of those came on the road, they all went on to claim L-L double results.
The 9/10 on a home win is favourable but I’m going to be bet with my bollocks and back Port Vale to lead at the interval too in the Half-Time/Full-Time market at almost 2/1 with 888.
Crawley v Northampton | Tuesday 19.45
Big credit to Mark Yates and Crawley Town. A superb rub of W5-D1-L1 has lifted the Red Devils well away from the dangers of the relegation zone and to within four points of the top-seven.
It’s a remarkable achievement for a club and manager that started the season without a goalkeeper or full backs. Crawley never claimed promotion was the aim this season and the hierarchy admitted they just wanted to consolidate after a difficult and topsy-turvy 2014/15. But could their recent run of results and loan capture of Rhys Murphy inspire a play-off push?
Murphy notched two goals in Saturday’s 2-1 win against Bristol Rovers and experienced League Two campaigner Yates was delighted with his team’s performance, saying: “We knew it was going to be tough. We started brilliantly, the best start we have had. We played some brilliant football in some really good areas, did what we do best and created quite a few really good chances.
“I thought we thoroughly deserved our half-time lead, but you have to give credit to them. They showed what they were about in the second half. It’s a 90-minute game and that’s all I am bothered about, over the 90 minutes we deserved our win.”
Murphy’s partnership with Matt Harrold has certainly aided the Reds and now Crawley have scored in each of their last nine League Two fixtures having failed to net in five of their first nine. Gwion Edwards’ goals from midfield are an added extra with the defence keeping just two shutouts in 15.
So I expect Crawley to grab a goal but there’s absolutely no assurances the hosts can keep their sheets clean when high-flying Northampton arrive. The Both Teams To Score bet has won in seven of Crawley’s last eight and in 10/18 (56%) of their League Two contests this term whilst Over 2.5 Goals has banked in 13/18 (72%) and in 12/13 overall.
Northampton’s drawn out takeover saga appears to be nearing an end and Chris Wilder deserves serious credit for galvanising his group during a difficult time when wages haven’t been paid on time. The Cobblers are sitting handsomely in third and have W10-D4-L3 since mid-August in all competitions.
With funds frozen, Darnell Furlong’s loan from QPR expired without being renewed and it’s left Town even weaker at the back. The visitors have kept just two clean sheets in 20 and relied on the goals of Marc Richards, Sam Hoskins and Dominic Calvert-Lewin to fire them to victories.
But most plaudits should probably go to Northampton’s enterprising midfield. The likes of Nicky Adams, Alfie Potter, John-Joe O'Toole and Lawson D'Ath are as good as any in the fourth tier and their menace and creativity has been central to the Cobblers’ outstanding campaign against the odds.
However, as already hinted at, I’m focussing on goals here and with 15/18 Northampton matches delivering winning BTTS bets and 8/10 following suit in the Over 2.5 Goals market, I’m happy to combine a play on both seeing as Crawley are just as strong. Bet365 are offering 11/10 on Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score and that holds plenty of appeal.
Bury v Scunthorpe – Bury to score Over 1.5 Goals (10/7 888)
Port Vale v Blackpool – Port Vale W-W double result (39/19 888)
Crawley v Northampton – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (11/10 Bet365)
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