WE round off Saturday’s action with a feisty Welsh clash between Wrexham and Newport; lower league lover Gab Sutton (@_FootbalLab) shares his best bets.
Wrexham v Newport | Saturday 1st December 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport
Wrexham AFC and Newport County share a rivalry steeped in history.
When Newport, the town, was granted city status in 2012, it prompted discontent from natives of Wrexham, who had applied for the honour that same year, with accusations of royal southern bias.
On the field, meanwhile, the last time the two clubs met was in the 2013 Conference play-off Final, which Newport won 2-0 to complete their return to the Football League.
That defeat has festered for the Dragons – but will they have a fire in their belly on Saturday night?
Ricketts catching the eye
Sam Ricketts was an unknown quantity when he was appointed manager in May, having had no experience as a number one following his retirement from playing in 2016.
He has, however, done an excellent job at the Racecourse Ground.
Ricketts has maintained the defensive solidity that was in evidence under his predecessor, Dean Keates, as centre-back Shaun Pearson remains a model of consistency.
Bringing in another ex-Grimsby man, Luke Summerfield, was an inspired piece of business; the 30-year-old has added steel and leadership in central midfield.
However, the rookie boss has taken Wrexham up another level in terms of the quality of their football, too.
The feeling within the camp is that, if they had a clinical finisher up top like Adam Rooney and Macaulay Bonne at Salford and Orient respectively, they would be prime title contenders.
Newport wobbling on the road
Like Ricketts, Newport County manager Michael Flynn has been linked with the vacancy at Shrewsbury Town, due to the outstanding work he has done.
The club have since released a statement saying that he has not been approached and that their focus is solely on on-field matters, but the speculation has hardly been ideal at a turbulent time for the promotion-chasing Exiles.
Injuries have recurred over the last month or so, with the likes of Robbie Willmott and Scot Bennett currently on the sidelines.
Plus, there is uncertainty over the post-January future of key loanees, Mark Harris and Tyreeq Bakinson.
Their away form reads three defeats from the last five in all competitions.
That sequence includes a fortuitous 1-1 draw at Bury, where last-ditch defending saved their skin in an encounter that saw them outshot 15-4.
It also includes a 2-0 FA Cup win at Metropolitan Police; the hosts missed a plethora of chances with the score goalless, before Jamille Matt and Padraig Amond struck to bail them out at Imber Court.
While Newport deserve immense credit for defying the financial gulf to compete towards the top of League Two, therefore, they are not necessarily in the best shape.
The betting angle
So far this season, National League sides have hosted an FA Cup clash with League Two opposition three times – Halifax and Maidstone won two of those games against Morecambe and Macclesfield respectively.
Although the other match between Ebbsfleet and Cheltenham finished all-square, it was the hosts who performed better on the day.
In this case, not only are Wrexham above the three aforementioned sides – albeit they are facing a higher-placed outfit too – they have the benefit of a raucous atmosphere and a fierce determination to exact revenge on their rivals.
For that reason, we are taking Marathon Bet’s 46/25 on the home win as our selection.
Because this game is played on Wrexham’s turf, the emotional aspects of the game is more likely to favour them than Newport.
Wrexham v Newport – Wrexham to win (46/25 Marathon)