ANYONE planning to paint the town red tonight might be best advised not to punt on tonight's football card. Unfortunately for anyone who fancies a bet all there is on offer is the dreaded Johnstone Paint cup clashes.

Now there is no way to gloss over this – these games are sometimes impossible to predict.

Many clubs are interested in the tournament, others experiment with line-ups and a few play their strongest side.

Southampton did that last season and went on to win at Wembley but you've got to worry about them at home to Swindon tonight. The Saints are managerless and Swindon, a biggest 9-2 at Bet365 and Blue Square, are believed to be taking it seriously.

On the face of it the prices for teams that would be expected to win are decent but bookies know results are unpredictable so don't lump in all the favourites on accers because I'd be amazed if they all won.

Keep selections and stakes small. As well as Swindon you have to consider Northampton at troubled Hartlepool who were thumped 5-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend.

Northampton beat Brighton in the League Cup and held Reading over 90 minutes so have some knockout credentials. They are 14-5 at Bet365.

Also 14-5 with the same firm and totesport are Shrewsbury who travel to Oldham. The Shrews have started League Two well and face an Oldham side whose priorites under Paul Dickov must lie elsewhere.

Port Vale are another side going well and if they name a strong line-up should beat Rochdale at home. The Stoke side are 13-10 with William Hill.

One favourite I'm happy enough top back are Charlton at home to Dagenham. The Valley side have a much stronger squad than their League Two opponents and should be able to make changes and still win.



  • Northampton
  • Shrewsbury
  • Port Vale
  • Swindon
  • Perm any 3 and all 4 (5 bets)

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