National League Tips | 27th-28th February 2016


FOUR winners from his last four National-League fancies. Can Callum Jones (@Goaldust) deliver the goods again on Saturday?

Chester v Tranmere | Sunday 12:00

We get the rare treat of a Sunday lunchtime National League fixture to feast on to kick-off Super Sunday, and what a game it is too.

Chester v Tranmere doesn’t quite qualify as a derby but with only 17 or so miles between the two grounds, I’m not sure the fans will see it that way.

The hosts have given themselves some breathing space in recent weeks and now sit seven points from the drop zone, and will feel confident of spending a fourth consecutive season in England’s fifth tier. Remember – this is a club who have only been in existence for six years after their predecessors went bust in 2010.

Chester’s recent home form in the league has actually been quietly very impressive – I must admit, I didn’t realise how well they’d been doing until I was researching their form in preparation of this piece.

The Seals have only lost four home games all season, and their record in their last 11 home games reads W5-D3-L3 – not bad for a side who have been dwelling around the lower echelons of the league table.

The home side have impressed against the big teams too. They held Cheltenham, Dover and Grimsby, defeated Eastleigh and Wrexham and were only beaten by the one goal by Forest Green in September.

Sunday’s opponents Tranmere have actually also been very decent recently, and they’ve entered the play-off reckoning after a string of professional performances.

Rovers were beaten at home to leaders Cheltenham last Saturday but went five games unbeaten before that to move into the play-off places for the first time this year. They may have slipped back out of the top five since, but I’m still very confident they’ll be there when it counts in May.

Having said that, Tranmere have shown big chinks in their armoury this season, especially against sides they’ve been expected to beat. Their away form has been noted as a weak spot too – they won only two of 12 away fixtures during one spell this campaign.

This one is very much gut feeling but I can’t see Chester losing on Sunday. I’ve been to the old Deva Stadium a few times since their reformation and it must have one of the best atmospheres in the division.

It’s a big spectacle and the Sunday lunchtime factor is never an issue there – it’s perhaps even busier when their games are rearranged. I like Tranmere to contend still this season but there are weaknesses to their game and I’m willing to test those and back the home side in the Draw No Bet market on Sunday.

Macclesfield v Wrexham | Saturday 15:00

With around 10 weeks remaining in the National League season, the play-off picture is looking as open as ever. A mere six points separates fourth and 11th, so there’s all still to play for.

One side who have taken full advantage of faltering foes is Wrexham, who find themselves sitting in fourth spot after an excellent recent run of form.

In all honestly, their season has been fairly uninspiring thus far – they’ve only won four more games than they’ve lost, so it may be a case of them being the best of the bad current crop, more than anything else.

Having said that, Wrexham have won three on the bounce and are unbeaten in six after a torrid spell of six league defeats in a two-month period over Christmas and New Year.

While the Dragons have only beaten sides languishing in the bottom-half in recent weeks, they were only seconds away from defeating Forest Green earlier this month and seem to be clicking in all departments ahead of a stretch of winnable fixtures.

The first comes this Saturday against a beleaguered Macclesfield side, who had genuine play-off aspirations themselves before their torrid recent run of form.

Town have won just one of their last eight in all competitions and that was a 2-0 home success against Truro City in a FA Trophy replay – they could only manage a 2-2 draw in the initial tie.

Macclesfield have dropped to 12th in the division and only Woking and Welling have a worse league record in the last six weeks. Their last two games have seen reverses against Torquay and Kidderminster – the bottom two in the National League.

It’s hard to know what’s happened at Moss Rose to cause their current state. One problem has been their out of form top scorer Kristian Dennis – he’s notched only one in his last five after scoring 20 in the first half of the season.

Town’s home form also hasn’t made for good reading – they rank 16th in the division on their own turf, with the likes of Chester, Bromley and Altrincham all picking up more points at home this campaign.

I’d have liked the insurance of Draw No Bet on this one but at 8/11, it’s a little bit skinny. So we’ll go with Wrexham to win straight up at 7/5 (SkyBet) – I think they’re worth the gamble on recent form.

Best Bets

Macclesfield v Wrexham – Wrexham to win (7/5 SkyBet)

Chester v Tranmere – Chester draw no bet (15/13 Bwin)

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