Rhodes flying for Blackpool and is 7/52.40 to score
County again in the HT/FT market appeals
Alan Dudman has a Saturday double and treble
With just two matches in League One this weekend due to the thrilling round of international matches including England v Malta, I am looking for a double in the third tier and while Blackpool are a short price at 1/21.50 for a home win, I fancy the chances of veteran striker Jordan Rhodes to get on the scoresheet.
Rhodes has been involved in eight goals in his six home League One appearances this season (6 goals, 2 assists). In his only previous league appearance against Shrewsbury, Rhodes scored a hat-trick for Brentford back in January 2009, and with Blackpool holding five wins at home and an xG of 1.43 at Bloomfield Road, I would be disappointed of the Tangerines couldn't create a chance or two for the wily old fox.
Shrewsbury have won just once on the road and have scored just twice - which all reads rather like a woeful tale, and with 14 conceded away, they are impossible to fancy for a win.
There are ways to play the game with Blackpool HT/FT or a bet to cover the handicap, but Rhodes is clearly enjoying life in an orange shirt despite his advancing years of 33.
KEY OPTA STAT: Since winning their first three away league games in 2023, Shrewsbury Town have picked up just six points in 17 away matches (W1 D3 L13), scoring just six times across these games.
Leg 2: Stevenage v Lincoln, Saturday 15:00: Back Stevenage to win
Another low-key game with Stevenage and Lincoln matching up in Hertfordshire, although I dare not say that to Stevo manager Steve Evans' face, but they are a fair price at 4/61.67 in 90 minutes and 3/4 in the Match Odds market.
Borough are outperforming expectations this term with a healthy 29 points - just two behind Peterborough in fifth position.
Their last home game at the end of October produced their best result of the season when beating Derby 3-1 a performance hailed by the Scot by saying: "We went toe-to-toe with some really good players and arguably we should win by more."
Stevenage have picked up 29 points in their first 17 league games this season (W8 D5 L4), the best start by a newly promoted club in League One since 2018-19, when Luton Town also had 29 points at this stage, so it's hard to get away from then in a rather threadbare set of League One fixtures.
KEY OPTA STAT: Only Cheltenham Town (168) have attempted fewer shots in League One this season than Lincoln City (177).
Leg 1: Mansfield v Newport County, Saturday 15:00: Back Mansfield
What a fine season Mansfield are having. Trying to go toe-to-toe with Wrexham, Stockport and Notts County is proving troublesome for most, but the Stags are in the top three and still remain unbeaten.
The home defence has barely been breached with just three goals conceded in seven games and they have impeccable xG numbers at Field Mill with an xG for of 1.94 and an against figure of just 0.92. Nigel Clough should feel confident in his defence again.
Mansfield are short in the betting at 2/51.40, but look acca bankers considering Newport have lost six on the road. The visitors have won just one of their last eight league matches against Mansfield (D4 L3), with their last win in this fixture coming in October 2020 - a 2-1 victory at home.
KEY OPTA STAT: Mansfield Town are unbeaten in their last five league matches against Newport County (W2 D3), although two of the last three meetings have ended in draws.
Leg 2: Stockport County v Colchester, Saturday 15:00: Back Stockport HT/FT
Dave Challinor's Stockport are proving to be unstoppable at the moment and have provided the column with plenty of wins of late, and there's no need to deviate away from a side who have won 12 on the spin.
Indeed, their home price of 1/31.33 reflects the form of the Hatters at the moment, and I wouldn't have grumbled with the price if it was 1/41.25.
To explore some profit however at a bigger price, backing the hosts in the HT/FT market at 10/111.91 appeals, as they have hit that bet three times in their last four matches at home.
Isaac Olaofe has 12 goals in 19 appearances this term, while on loan Villa youngster Louie Barry is nine from 18. Goals are everywhere in this side with 37 in total and a superb goal difference of +19 - the best in the division.
Since losing four consecutive away league matches between September and October, Colchester United have won each of their last two matches on the road. They haven't won three consecutive away matches since February (run of five).
KEY OPTA STAT: Since going unbeaten in 11 matches against Stockport County (W8 D3), Colchester United have lost each of their last two against the Hatters.
Accrington Stanley have drawn just one of their last 21 home league matches (W9 L11) - a 1-1 draw with Barrow in August and they haven't drawn any of their last seven at home (W4 L3), so they are very much boom or bust, which is not ideal with Wrexham in town.
However, while Wrexham are short in the betting at 1/21.50, backing the draw might not be the worst angle here as Phil Parkinson's side's away form is nothing like their Racecourse form.
On the road they have won three but drawn four and while they have scored 27 at home this season, away they have hit just seven.
Wrexham have won just one of their four league matches against Accrington Stanley (L3), although this win did come on the road, with the Red Dragons winning 2-0 in October 2007 thanks to a brace from Neil Roberts.
Backing the draw in 90 minutes at 21/10 gives us that little bit of insurance too.
KEY OPTA STAT: Wrexham have already won three league of their eight matches on the road (D4 L1), which is just one fewer than they managed on the road in their last full League Two campaign (four wins in 23 away matches in 2007-08).
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