Alan Dudman previews Saturday's League One action and believes an exciting game is in store when in-form Leyton Orient host Preston North End at Brisbane Road...
"With Orient on a roll and Preston better away from home, it might set up a decent game, as both have some good wingers in the side - and hopefully some goals."
League One can often be unpredictable in terms of the results, and Leyton Orient would be the identikit team to fit that sort of profile. The Londoners are currently on a hot streak, and have won their last four games (including an FA Cup victory). However, they had lost four on the spin and looked fairly poor in October.
O's manager Russell Slade is using an attacking 4-4-2 with two good wide players in Lee Cook and Dean Cox, and the results over the past seven days have been excellent. They beat out of form Portsmouth on Tuesday night 3-2, and thumped Carlisle United at Brunton Park last Saturday. The wingers are excelling, but so are the front pairing of Kevin Lisbie and David Mooney.
The hosts are probably too big in price, but have lost five games already at Brisbane Road this season which dampens the enthusiasm for a win bet. However they were very aggressive against Pompey and harried really well in midweek. And much like their opponents this weekend, are more open on their travels.
Preston have scored 16 goals on the road and six of their last seven matches have all been over 2.5 goals. For some reason they look more attacking away from Deepdale. They were held 0-0 by Notts County on Tuesday, but disappointingly the Magpies changed their usual game plan of high-octane football to a more pragmatic approach.
The Lillywhites will be without Scott Laird, who is ruled out for the rest of the season with a broken leg sustained in midweek, whilst the right-back position might be problematic if Keith Keane (knee) is ruled out. Manager Graham Westley might see this as a winnable match, as his team produced a season's best recently - in winning 4-1 at Stevenage.
With Orient on a roll and Preston better away from home, it might set up a decent game, as both have some good wingers in the side - and hopefully some goals.
Oldham boss Paul Dickov was reportedly under a bit of pressure prior to Tuesday's much-needed 2-1 win at Hartlepool. How a manager with virtually no money to spend can be viewed as a candidate for firing is beyond me, and I think the Scot has done a reasonable job with the tools to hand.
The Latics were winless in their five previous games though, and the chairman Simon Corney was critical of some poor displays. Dickov wanted work-rate and desire for Tuesday's game, and he got it courtesy of a last-ditch goal from Jose Baxter.
The hosts have struggled a bit at Boundary Park this term, with just two wins and 10 goals scored.
Shrewsbury are an interesting bet this weekend, particularly at the odds. Although they have yet to win away from home all season, it might be the game to catch them here. They were brilliant in midweek and outplayed the classy MK Dons to gain a point, but Dons manager Karl Robinson admitted the Shrews were the better side and deserved more than the 2-2 scoreline.
Their weekend 1-0 win over Crewe was much needed, and the two matches have highlighted their front pairing of Luke Rodgers and Marvin Morgan. It's the little and large duo who feed from each other and they were superb against the MK Dons. Rodgers has been playing for the New York Red Bulls, and has always been a classy little footballer.
Shrewsbury have recently shown they are better than their current position, and during this month four of their five games have been over 2.5 goals. With good movement from the front two, they should be able to cause Oldham some problems. If they can score, it should set up a lay of the hosts, although the sexier odds are backing the away win.
It's not often you would see Walsall trade as odds-on to win a game, which tells us more about the rotten form of Hartlepool this season - who are winless in 18 matches and sit rock-bottom in League One. New first-team coach John Hughes has one of the hardest jobs in football on his hands, but at least the signs were better during Tuesday's 2-1 defeat to Oldham.
The north east club have a big problem conceding goals, leaking 36 in the league all season. On the plus side they have some very bright prospects at the club, including the brilliant Jack Baldwin - the young Alan Hansen.
Walsall are the team I have had a soft spot for this term, but were running out of steam recently after a blistering start to their campaign. Although the Saddlers haven't won in 13 matches, they have restored some of their confidence with two excellent displays in the past week. Tranmere were held 0-0 at Prenton Park, whilst Crawley were lucky to gain a 2-2 draw last weekend, as Walsall had their passing game back.
The Midlanders play some terrific football and I have my fingers crossed that midfield sensation Flo Cuvelier might be back soon, whilst Fabien Brandy's inclusion to the side has given them more flair and firepower. Walsall boss Dean Smith can get them playing some scorching stuff at times, and when they pass and move they do look great.
Smith said recently: "We need to beat Hartlepool'. So I am hoping they'll be really positive and get off to a good start to bring into play the half time market.