BEEN a good couple of days and I have to say cup fever has got the better of me today – I just can’t resist two massive ties on what will be a memorable night of action.

Non of that tin-pot Champions League mind.

Rochdale v Oldham (7pm)

As you drop down on the M62 through the mist and gloom that hangs over Saddleworth Moor the returning Lancastrian will see God's own county laid out before him – but beware there are places we mustn’t speak of.

Cast your eyes right and you will see Rochdale splayed out like a concrete Mordor forever coated in a fine drizzle and the acrid stench of poverty and pies hanging in the air.

This evening’s game sees neighbouring team Oldham dragging their ragged fans from their rain-soaked hovels for the short march northwards as each set of supporters converge on Spotland like a reunion from Middle Earth.

After last week's postponement the winners now know they will play City’s U21 outfit in the next leg and although neither side are setting the world alight there’s local pride at stake and it will be a tasty atmosphere.

H2Hs between these two are rarely big scorers and that’s certainly the case when played in Dale – there has been just one solitary goal in the last 3 with 0-0, 1-0, 0-0 scorelines to reflect the gloom.

While unders may be a market to consider I just cannot bring myself to back it – instead I’m taking two different routes, one of which has served me well down the years with Lancashire derbies.

Look back through the H2Hs and focus on games at Spotland and there’s a cracking little picture that emerges and reflects the atmosphere surrounding this derby – in the last consecutive five games there have been 6-3-8-5 and 6 cards shown by the ref. Not a bad tally at all and I reckon this could follow suit but absolutely zero card markets available.

The second bet I fancy is for an Oldham away goal – they are in the better vein of form – don’t be duped by the different league classes. It’s highly likely Rochdale will drop into League Two come the end of the season.

Oldham have been terrific on the road having scored 2-2-1-2-0-2-1-4 in their most recent 8 away days and the goal time looks to offer plenty of appeal against a Dale outfit who have kept just 2 clean sheets in 10.

Recommended Bet

  • Oldham to score before 64 mins
  • (5-6, bet365)

*Possible card bet to follow


Belper Town v Gresley

Northern League Challenge Cup action hailing from deepest, darkest Derbyshire here and it’s a game that could well see goals!

These two last met in August with Gresley snatching an away win by the odd goal in 5 at Christchurch Meadow but their recent form has taken a bit of a battering. Losses of 0-4, 4-1, 2-3 and a 2-2 draw have seen them slide down to 12th spot with the joint worst g/d in the division at -19.

Belper’s own form is better but not fantastic – it is, however, full of goals at both ends – the most recent 7 games have seen scorelines of 2-1, 2-1, 1-3, 2-1, 2-1, 0-2 and 3-1.

Low stakes for this one but could be worth a look.

Recommended Bet

  • Over 4.5 match goals (7-4, bet365)

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