Port Vale v Gillingham | Saturday 15.00
When I first glanced at the League One coupon this weekend, Port Vale at evens was the bet that stood out. The hosts have a solid home record at Vale Park which often goes unnoticed but is deserving of maximum respect.
Since winning promotion in 2013/14, the Valiants have recorded a very impressive W18-D5-L11 at their home ground. That’s a win % of 53%. And since Micky Adams was fired earlier this season, new boss Robert Page has enhanced that record to W5-D1-L1 when hosting League One football – a win % of 71%.
Tally those stats against those of Gillingham’s since they won promotion in the same year as Vale and we can see they’ve W7-D6-L2 of their 34 away days, with a 62% loss record. So it looks like an excellent ‘value’ bet in favour of Vale, right? Well I’m not so keen to dive in, just yet.
Gillingham appear to have come out the other side of a rough run which saw Peter Taylor’s men win just one of 11 (including six defeats). In fact, the Gills have bounced back and improved their away record too – taking seven points from trips to Bradford, Doncaster and Colchester.
And the goals are starting to flow again too – they’ve netted at least twice in five of their last seven. So with Gillingham’s obvious improvement, I’ll steer clear of the Match Odds and instead have a play on the 4/5 (Ladbrokes) that Both Teams Score at Vale Park.
It’s been a winner in the Gills’ last seven, in seven of their 11 away games and the visitors haven’t kept a clean sheet in league action since September. Meanwhile, Vale have kept just two shutouts this season but also managed to strike in 16/23 league outings and have netted at least twice in five of their last seven at Vale Park.
*Peter Taylor was sacked 24 hours after these bets were published but I'm happy to standby the selection*
Newport County v Carlisle United | Saturday 15.00
Newport are quickly becoming one of my favourite teams to back this season. Justin Edinburgh’s side have been off the radar and since losing their first three games of the season, the Welsh side have W11-D7-L2 of their last 20 league fixtures.
The Exiles are joint-top of the current form table in League Two, have won five of their last six (keeping clean sheets in three of their last four) and at their Rodney Parade base they’ve W6-D4 since an opening day defeat to Wycombe. Yet we can back them at 20/21 with BetVictor for maximum points this weekend.
Carlisle are the visitors on Saturday and it appears to be all-or-nothing for the Cumbrians this season. The struggling side have not drawn a game since early September – W8-L10 of their previous 18 – but it’s on the road where things go a bit Pete Tong.
A 1-0 win at Morecambe in their last outing has failed to paper over the cracks. Carlisle have lost eight of their 11 away games in 2014/15, failing to score in six. Curle’s men are averaging two goals-per-game against on the road and have the worst defence in the league this season. I’ll have the hosts at a shade of odds-on.
Northampton Town v Southend United | Saturday 15.00
What on earth is going wrong at Northampton for Chris Wilder? Having saved the Cobblers from relegation last season, the former Oxford manager might face a fight for his job if results don’t improve fast.
A run of W2-L10 has sent Town plummeting down the table and they’re now just two points off the dreaded relegation zone. Defensively they’ve been a shambles – leaking at least twice in nine of those aforementioned 12 games and things don’t get any easier on Saturday.
Southend are the visitors and Phil Brown’s men have been ruthless when visiting the league’s lesser lights. Yes, playing against teams in the bottom-half, the Shrimpers can boast a mightily impressive W9-D3-L0 record this season, including seven clean sheets.
And playing away to the same opposition, Southend have W6-D1-L0. They arrive at Sixfields on the back of a W5-D2-L1 eight-game spell which has seen the visitors break into the top-seven again.
We’ve already touched on Northampton’s horrendous recent run of results but it’s also worth pointing out their struggles against the division’s best. In games against top-eight, the Cobblers have W0-D2-L6 including D1-L2 on home soil. Southend can be backed at 11/8 with Betfair to extend that sorry record.