League Two Steamers and Drifters
This weeks steamers (teams whose odds have shortened during the week): Bury, Mansfield, AFC Wimbledon, Torquay, Bristol Rovers, Rochdale and Wycombe
Drifters (teams whose odds have got bigger during the week: Accrington, Cheltenham, Dag &R, Fleetwood, Hartlepool, Northampton, Oxford and Southend
League Two Through the Card
So lets go through the card and see if I can get at least one right. Hopefully theres at least some information that is useful to someone.
Burton v Accrington
Burton have had a tough schedule of late and will be glad to return to home comforts. Tired displays at Bristol Rovers and Torquay resulted in underperformance against expectations. Whilst Burton are deliberately more solid defensively this season (boring), this has come at the expense of attacking threat and Burton seem increasingly reliant on loanee Ismail to pull a game changer out of the magic bag of winger wonder.
Accrington will have a couple of long trips in their legs and have significantly less resources to overcome such a schedule but they are also solid at the back and have been pulling results out against the odds all year.
This is likely to be a low scoring game and the less goals there are the more chance of adverse variance for the stronger side. I therefore give Accrington a decent shot of taking something from this game and will go with the tried and tested Accrington draw no bet at 3.8.
This will be a crap game Under 2.5 goals is also an option.
Cheltenham v Bury
Bury are finally reaping the rewards of young and progressive management and investment in the playing staff. Daniel Nardiello returned to goalscoring form again at Mansfield in midweek and Bury have every chance of taking something from a Cheltenham side who have really disappointed this season particularly at home where Cheltenham’s record is so poor.
Not that this has gone unnoticed by the bookies though who price Bury up at 2.88 in a game which could easily see a draw. As Derek McGovern once said but soon stopped saying, when the draw is the biggest price back it. Don’t do it, I checked, it doesn’t work.
Bury’s football at all costs approach also comes with risks, one of which is inconsistency and the other is defensive fallibility. The Shakers also have had an extra game on Cheltenham in the last 10 days which has to be factored in. I’d have needed to see Bury at bigger than 2/1 to back them so no bet.
Dagenham v Mansfield
Mansfield I saw lose 3-0 at Oxford a couple of weeks ago and in the first half they were the better side by a bumpkin mile. They were undone by a higher standard of finishing on the day. Up front, Matt Rhead looked like he’d wandered in from a rugby league game to be honest (don’t tell him I said that), whilst Sam Clucas looked bright enough but didn’t take his chances.
Mansfield, who seem to be having increasing trouble financially, followed that poor result up by beating Fleetwood, a good result that has been devalued a touch by Fleetwood’s embarrassment at home to Plymouth in midweek. But to demonstrate consistent inconsistency, Mansfield were unravelled themselves again at home to Bury in midweek . The sort of frustrating inconsistency that is typical at this level and seems to be indicative of a general decline in standards across the lower divisions. Unless you call good game, bad game, good game, bad game consistent. It’s a pattern I guess.
But Mansfield also have an extra game in their legs over the last 10 days compared to Dagenham.
1 win in 8 doesn’t say much for Dagenham either though. At the prices I would have to go for Mansfield but don’t trust them to stick the ball in the net with enough consistency to merit risking my hard earned cash on them and with that this game swiftly becomes another no bet.
Fleetwood v AFC Wimbledon
The eyeball test suggests Fleetwood are a much better side than AFC Wimbledon but the northern gunner’s last two results have been shocking. How can a team who have looked so tight and progressive in other matches this season lose 0-4 at home to Plymouth? Now Ive been sweeter than most on Plymouth this year (usually at great expense), but even I didn’t fancy their chances on Tuesday night. The question is, can a team with the quality of Fleetwood suffer three consecutive shock defeats?
AFC Wimbledon I am slowly having to accept I have underestimated consistently this season. They haven’t impressed me at all when Ive seem them but then Ive mostly seen them against Oxford who are a bogey side for the wombles.
Two late goals to steal a win under the lights at Newport on Tuesday night shows character in the side even if they continue to suffer from erratic goalkeeping.
There will be plenty of interest in the even money for Fleetwood this weekend but I’d rather have a smaller stake on the AFC Wimbledon draw no bet at 3 to make the most of Fleetwood’s uncertainty and put Graham Alexander’s position into question.
Hartlepool v Torquay
Hartlepool are another frustratingly inconsistent side for punters. They have some top talent in the side to provide flair and energy around established experienced men like Sam Collins, Simon Walton and Marlon Harewood. But just when you think they are getting it together and will break into the promotion pack they go and throw in a defeat at Northampton or AFC Wimbledon.
It’s a hell of a trip for Torquay and they’ve played midweek whereas Hartlepool have had a week at home to prepare. Torquay did travel up on Friday afternoon and will be boosted by the loan signing of big man Enoch Showumni up front, and with that I was all set to back them to at least avoid defeat but the short week and distance is enough to put me off. Hartlepool look a big price here…is it a value trap? No bet.
Newport v Scunthorpe
Newport bullied Oxford in ending Oxford’s 10 month unbeaten away record 10 days ago but the fixture pile up is taking its toll with disappointing results to follow up that night and Justin Edinburgh has admitted his side look tired.
Scunthorpe have had a typical week. They destroyed Portsmouth last weekend with the golden triangle of Syers, Winnall and Madden fulfilling their promise. Then they followed it up by throwing away a lead at home to Bristol Rovers in the week.
On the day Scunny had drifted from odds on to odds against, on paper a stonking bet, but in reality another value trap that we are seeing every week in League 2 now. Rovers have hit form…but still. Scunthorpe will win this but I can’t get excited about the price.
Northampton v Bristol Rovers
The Chris Wilder bounce has finally hit Northampton. Wilder is a motivator who knows how to organise his sides defensively, and this seems to be taking effect now with some much needed wins. They still have it all on to avoid the nightmare that is the trap door of conference doom, but they’re making a fist of it now and they have a chance.
Rovers have hit form of late too. That late draw at Scunthorpe to follow a deserved win against a knackered Burton side last Friday night stretching their unbeaten run to a month. But Alan Gow is now injured and he was a key contributor in Rovers latest results and they had a tough trip to Scunny in midweek.
At the prices I’d probably back Northampton at 2.7 noting concerns about the draw.
Rochdale v Oxford
I think we can rule an Oxford win out here. Dave Kitson is likely to be out and the defence continues to be hit by injuries to Jake Wright, Michael Raynes and the suspension of Tom Newey which meant forgotten central midfielder Scott Davies filled in at left back at Morecambe and 19 year old Sam Long debuted at centre back.
Whilst Oxford’s form looks strong on paper they have had a weak schedule of late. The question then is Rochdale or draw. Rochdale’s possession based style suits their pitch and is likely to give Oxford problems.
Rochdale boast the best home record in the division and with Oxford’s air of invincibility away from home gone I’d probably back the home side instead of the draw at 2.2.
Southend v Wycombe
Ive been slavishly backing Southend recently expecting them to come good but this is getting bloody expensive. Bringing in John Egan from Sunderland may ease their defensive issues but im not sure that’s enough to warrant backing them in current form.
Wycombe finally got a result and what a result it was, beating league leaders Chesterfield. We can maybe devalue that result a touch, with Chesterfield having come into the game on the back of a “big” and nervy trophy win against Fleetwood to get through to Wembley – but Chesterfield do have greater resources than most in this division. Wycombe followed that up with a win at Exeter in midweek and suddenly they have more confidence and momentum than their off-colour opponents.
If Southend had played midweek too, at these prices I’d be all over Wycombe. That short week does cause concern though, so its Wycombe draw no bet at 2.88.
York v Exeter
I would normally like York here, they are another side who are unbeaten throughout February. Keith Lowe and John McCombe are an experienced partnership at centre back whilst Russell Penn is a solid addition to a midfield. The possible injury to Wes Fletcher is a bit of a worry though and I’d want to see him fit before backing the home side.
Finances have dictated that Exeter are just going to plod through to the end of the season and they are going to be a team that it is best just to default to opposing for the rest of the year especially at home as whilst they aren’t going down they are unlikely to pull up any trees either. They will be organised and play football, and get a few surprise results without being consistent or dependable enough to back them.
Exeter come into this game having played midweek where York have not. Im tempted to back Exeter here just because everything points to York and that’s how League 2 works. But that’s not rational so no bet.