MK Dons 2.86 v Swindon Town 2.78, the draw 3.35
TUESDAY'S match at the Stadium MK is a must win game for the hosts. The Dons boss Karl Robinson stated over the weekend it will be “All out”. Crucially, three points will cut into Swindon’s lead (they occupy the final play-off spot).
How the Buckinghamshire side failed to win on Saturday is beyond me. During the 0-0 draw against Crawley the MK Dons blew chance after chance, dominated the 90 minutes and pummelled the Sussex club. Ryan Lowe had an amazing three goals disallowed all for offside while Town’s keeper produced a Gordon Banks-style save.
The hosts have kept three successive clean sheets, while Opta stats show the recent supremacy of the MK Dons who have lost just one of their last six games with Swindon.
The Robins might be wobbling a bit, with just one win from their last six outings and new boss Kevin MacDonald has been criticised recently for his use of the 4-5-1. On the plus side, Town will be fresher as they had no match over the weekend. However, the home team have got to go for it and if they replicate Saturday’s display they should win.
Back MK Dons to win @ 2.86
Doncaster 1.76 v Carlisle 5.40, the draw 3.95
Doncaster are the 1-0 team, having been successful with that scoreline in their last three games. Saturday’s victory over Tranmere showed exactly the fundamentals of Brian Flynn’s side. They are big and strong and a huge threat from set-plays. Defensively the Keepmoat men are rock solid – conceding only twice at home in their last six outings (keeping four clean sheets).
Inrunning players should note an Opta nugget, only Yeovil (with 18 goals) have scored more in the final 15 minutes of a match than Doncaster (with 17).
Carlisle all but sealed their League One safety with a 2-1 win at Oldham. On a poor pitch the Cumbrians played really well and were missing three first-team regulars – two of which are doubtful again today.
The Keepmoat is also a poor playing surface and the ball will spend most of the evening in the sky, so I expect Carlisle to be under pressure in their own box, and with them virtually safe for the season the hosts should be too strong.
Back Doncaster to win @ 1.76
Back HT score 1-0 @ 4.0
Preston 2.12 v Oldham 4.0, the draw 3.50
Preston are another strong defensive team and have been especially since the introduction of manager Simon Grayson. North End have conceded only five goals in their last 10 games, with a magical five clean sheets included in that run.
The Whites were 3-0 winners on Saturday over Scunthorpe but did look edgy at 1-0. Their plan is fairly simple, not to concede early while controlling the majority of the match.
Meanwhile, Oldham are still fighting for their League One survival (while it appears Preston are safe). Rookie boss Lee Johnson described their 2-1 home defeat to Carlisle at the weekend as really poor and it certainly looked a wretched display. Their movement looked non-existent, a far cry from the efforts during their FA Cup run.
The Latics have used a shielding midfielder for protection while Preston don’t concede many. It looks another unders bet for the home team.
Back under 2.5 goals @ 1.80
Sheffield United 1.76 v Crawley 5.50, the draw 3.85
Eight of Sheffield United’s last nine games have been under 2.5 goals, with three 0-0 correct scorelines. Their home record at Bramall Lane is mighty impressive too – with just 17 goals conceded in 19 outings. The Blades however have also drawn far too many this term, six of them 0-0 according to Opta stats – a league high.
On Saturday, United were held 1-1 at Walsall but lost their midfield battles while Crawley were absolutely battered on Saturday at the MK Dons and yet came away with a point.
Crawley are a decent footballing team and have drawn four out of their last six games. They have absolutely nothing to lose here with the pressure being on Sheffield United who are short enough for a cheap lay. I am quite tempted to throw a small bet on the visitors at the price but the tactic of laying the hosts will have the draw running for me too.
Lay Sheffield United @ 1.76
Back under 2.5 goals @ 1.90
Port Vale 1.77 v Aldershot 5.5; The draw 3.9
My tip a couple of weeks ago, thwarted by snow, was a lay on the Valiants, with 0-0 a possible outcome. That would have suited the Shots then. But not now.
Their need is more urgent. To stay up new boss Andy Scott must turn into Rob Roy, Spartacus and lots of other historical rallying figures all rolled in to one. Referring to two defeats in eight games doesn’t cut it because half of them were draws which will no longer do.
A draw, however, might be considered weathering an Opta stats storm against a side who won 7-1 last Friday, over Burton.
Opta gleefully reveal The Valiants have won their last five against the Shots with a goal ratio of 12-3. Do you want another dagger or two? Tom Pope is the division’s top scorer with 30 this season – and Aldershot have only gained three points from losing positions this season, a league low.
Once the bodyblows from Opta have been absorbed – and add in the absence of injured Aaron Morris – it should be put forward that one of those claw backs came at Rochdale in their last away game, while six of Aldershot’s last seven away games have resulted in draws (three 1-1, three 0-0).
Defeating out-of-form Oxford in their last game on Bank Holiday Monday and scoring three – as many as in their previous four games put together – could not have been more timely. They led in the other two 1-1 away draws and in recent months have also beaten Chesterfield and Barnet 1-0. A correct score of 0-1 is 15.0.
Aldershot have to hope Micky Adams’ men are over-confident and think they are nearly over the promotion line. Be sure defensive duties will have been driven into the Shots while on loan Paul McCallum looks capable of scoring at any moment.
Aldershot fought hard over 16 years to regain a Football League place for the town. They simply must win, hence a Braveheart, eyeballs out bet on the away team at a big price, rather than the cautious lay.
Back Aldershot to win at Port Vale at 5.5
Bradford 1.84 v Bristol Rovers 5.0; The draw 3.75
My cheeky turn-of-the-year treble on Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Bradford to be promoted had long since been written off, after the Bantams made a surprising run to the League Cup final, stunting league form.
The Bantams had risen to fourth in the autumn. Now, bridging what was an eight-point gap to seventh a few weeks ago (now two) looks feasible. To do it, they must put pretenders Bristol Rovers, the form team of 2013 and over 10 games, in their place.
Chesterfield and Northampton have proved stumbling blocks for John Ward’s men on their travels, which sows enough doubt in their away form to put a 13-point five-game run to one side, as does Bradford’s 10 points from the last four games and one defeat in ten since the cup final.
Opta reveal that Bradford have beaten Bristol Rovers just once in their last nine meetings, but that the Bantams have lost three points from winning positions at home this season; a joint-league low with Gillingham. Nahki Wells, after 10 games without scoring, has hit the net again and if either of these sides are to hit the top seven it will be Bradford, with games in hand. Another tight victory should ensue.
Back Bradford @ 1.84
Burton 2.06 v Wycombe 3.95; The draw 3.7
Having pondered backing Wycombe to win at Oxford, doing so now could be a case of horse bolted.
That 7-1 whipping at Port Vale – a biggest defeat in 50 years – threatens to shake the confidence of the Brewers. They have now just four points from two games and lost their last home outing to Chesterfield.
Wycombe, meanwhile, have been set a target to finish in the top half by Gareth Ainsworth while defender Charles Dunne says he senses something big at the club is about to happen.
The last time the Chairboys won three away in a row was 2010, say Opta, and while that tempts Burton must react but laying them seems reasonable at the price.
Lay Burton @ 2.04