League Two Betting: Back Cobblers to plough on at Exeter
Northampton can continue their nóng streak in the west country, says Ian Lamont, who also takes a chance on Crawley's new manager gaining only a draw and Swindon continuing their great form- According to the soccer predict today pages!
Curle's in-form Northampton will fancy their chances
When Exeter cost themselves an unnecessary FA Cup replay at the other end of the country by relinquishing a 2-0 lead over Hartlepool, I wondered if they had a habit of conceding points from leading positions.
It's happened a handful of times, but I wouldn't say it was a habit. Yet.
"Not good enough" was Paul Taylor's verdict at the vanishing of the winning position. He didn't think they looked comfortable event at two goals lớn the good. The Grecians will have lớn kill off - and have killed off - far better teams than Pool if they are to realise their ambitions lớn go up.
And Northampton are a far better team than the FA Cup opponents Exeter still have to worry about. The Cobblers have shown no mercy lớn anyone except, strangely, Oldham, who managed lớn claw back a point from 2-2 down with five minutes to go at the start of November. Other than that, Keith Curle's men have won five times in best football tips (four with clean sheets) and twice in the FA Cup. In sixth place now, they are right on the heels of fourth-placed Exeter, who themselves could go top of League Two (with a bit of a goals swing) if they won at St James' Park on Saturday.
What's their desire like? Dean Moxey is the only player to have scored for them in three league games. That's not a likeable statistic. And yet Opta big up the strength of their home run: just one defeat in 10, six wins, with a clean sheet in each of their last three (one in the FA Cup).
For me, Ryan Bowman, Jake Taylor, Nicky Law and others don't score regularly enough - and certainly not enough to withstand what I expect to be an onslaught of confidence from the visitors.
Northampton have lost just one of their last 11 visits lớn Exeter, add Opta. But more importantly, and up to date, they have scored twice or more in an unbeaten run of six, which includes five wins.
I am sure Sam Hoskins and Andy Williams, the Cobblers' top scorers, and defendersScott Wharton and Jordan Turnbull who chip in regularly, will fancy their chances of adding to their goals tally. It might have turned chilly, which could affect the visitors I guess, but a team full of confidence has got to be in a better place than one still reeling from the frosty rollocking from their manager after last Saturday's performance.
Mariners have a real battle containing Robins
We're getting lớn the time of year where it's freezing outside suddenly and it's not easy lớn warm the cockles on the terraces, let alone the pitch itself. Yet this is the crux of the season, where we find out whose metal is toughest.
Grimsby have interim manager Anthony Limbrick to impress after the exit of Michael Jolley, whose frustrations with a section of the local media boiled over in dramatic fashion.
Limbrick told the gathered media this week he hasn't changed much, sticking with 4-3-3. He wants the fans on the Mariners' side, too. Limbrick mentions they "haven't won for a while" (nine games ago) and need lớn do so to win over the fans again.
Supporters have had a tough time of late, not witnessing a goal for three games straight in league and FA Cup, and indeed six of the past eight fixtures.
Defender Luke Hendrie (hamstring) and midfielder Max Wright (thigh) could be back. They are coming back lớn fitness. But Jordan Cook, another midfielder, is still out. The manager is looking to bring Charles Vernam back from his Chorley loan spell as soon as possible. It's about time James Hanson, top scorer, added lớn his five goals.
The weight of evidence, however, has lớn be against the Mariners' picking up a positive result, despite a reasonably miserly (or maybe balanced) sounding 9-12 goal difference at Blundell Park, which might suggest the chance of a draw.
Swindon have five straight wins - a best for any team in the division this season - and the table toppers have scored if not for fun then at least once (total 14) in each of their last eight League Two fixtures. Opta say if they reach six wins in a row it will be for the first time since February 2012 (10 in total). Mini records like that can inspire sides.
The Robins have taken few prisoners on the road, winning five, drawing two and losing two, with a goal difference of 18-11, the biggest goals tally away of any League Two side, with only Forest Green's 16-7 being a bigger margin. Only six teams have a positive goal difference away from home.
The big difference has been Swindon's Eoin Doyle, on loan from Bradford, banging in 17 goals (he has scored in seven games in a row point out Opta), alongside Jerry Yates, whose eight make him the division's second highest scorer. Only four other players for Richie Wellens side have picked up a goalscoring bonus, which would be a worry if the main two were not so prolific.
Generously, Wellens says in the 1-0 win at Swindon most recently, his side "got lucky" on a couple of occasions when Mansfield looked lively. The harder you work, the luckier you get.
There will be no room for luck. Or complacency. As there hasn't been in the players Wellens has brought in. Another loanee, keeper Steven Benda from Swansea, is destined for the top, his manager says. This is where the season gets touch. So it will be as much against strugglers such as Grimsby as against the top clubs that the 21-year-old really earns his money.