Alan Dudman previews a trio of League One encounters this Saturday, and is not expecting too many goals at Carlisle, Sheffield United or Shrewsbury....
"The draw and 0-0 are obvious trades considering the potential nervousness of the hosts, and I expect Swindon to use their dangerous midfield to try and lure Carlisle in. I don't expect many goals, therefore anything around 1.9520/21 for the unders should be taken." Back the draw @ 3.4012/5
A superb run of form has pushed Mark Cooper's Swindon in the frame for the final play-off spot that appears up for grabs. Peterborough are holding the all-important sixth place at the moment, six points ahead of Cooper's men.
Town themselves are rolling, hitting momentum at the right time. Three wins from their last three seemed an unlikely run a month ago, but the addition of Southampton loanee Jack Stephens at centre-back has made the defence more mobile. Swindon struggled for pace previously, but now have a lot more injected into the side. With Stephens, alongside Alex Smith down the left and Miles Storey with speed up front, all this has enabled the Robins to switch the play quicker in transition.
Carlisle meanwhile have been sucked into the relegation fight and are without a win in eight games. On form alone, perhaps the hosts should be trading at larger odds. United have struggled a bit with injuries, but veteran defender Pascal Chimbonda (who has missed the last three matches) might return this Saturday, although striker Lee Miller remains a doubt.
The 'goals for' column seem a big problem for United, and one netted from their last five matches can be deemed a crisis. Manager Graham Kavanagh has moved to sign Gary Madine on-loan from Sheffield Wednesday. He showed promise on Saturday against Tranmere during the 0-0 draw at Prenton Park.
Indeed, the 0-0 stalemates seem to be a problem for Carlisle. They have failed to score in their last three home matches which subsequently all ended 0-0, and they have drawn five of their last eight. So at 3.2011/5 you can hardly back them with any confidence.
Kavanagh has used a 3-5-2 in the previous two encounters, but I wonder if the Irishman will switch to a conventional back four this Saturday.
The draw and 0-0 are obvious trades considering the potential nervousness of the hosts, and I expect Swindon to use their dangerous midfield to try and lure Carlisle in. I don't expect many goals, therefore anything around 1.9520/21 for the unders should be taken.
The dreaded phrase 'six pointer' will no doubt be unleashed for this basement Saturday clash. Bottom meets second from bottom, with the pair showing a penchant for 0-0 draws - my favourite.
I put up Stevenage last weekend against Port Vale thinking they were a good bet, but they could only muster a 1-1 draw. However, the Borough fended off league leaders Wolves on Tuesday night for goalless encounter, which was a typical Graham Westley Stevenage performance.
GW had Jimmy Smith playing in the hole, so there were never going to be too many chances, but their tracking back and work ethic were both spot on. Many teams look tired at this stage of the season, but Stevenage looked pretty fit in midweek. Westley called it a 'strong performance'.
I mentioned Shrewsbury in last week's column too, purely because they are a side that cannot score. They have now failed to find the net in five of their last eight matches, with three 0-0 scorelines in the same run. Add to that five under 2.5 goals from their last six games, which all should make low scoring markets popular.
Salop are not controlling games, and looked a tired side on Saturday at Walsall (losing 0-1). Joseph Mills picked up an early red card in that match - which has susbsequently been upheld by the FA, thus ruling him out of this Saturday - so expect Joe Jacobson to come in.
Both teams are not goalscoring sides, so it might be a time to chance the under 1.5 goals. Borough have been an unders team too recently, having drawn blanks in three of their most recent six matches. I expect the away team to line up with a sole striker again, and both will be nervous. Stevenage do look the more likely to win, but the pair will feel the need to chisel out a point in their quest for survival.
It's nice to see those last-minute goals popping up every Saturday. I jest of course, it's happened two weeks running now with a potential reward of a draw snatched away in the dying embers. Sheffield United were the latest team to do so, uncharacteristically conceding late on Saturday to Swindon - which blew the draw outright for the column annoyingly. However, we go again.
And the Blades got back to their miserly defensive ways on Tuesday evening with an excellent 0-0 draw at home to Brentford. United once again played on the break (not unusual even though they were the hosts), and dealt well with the excellent ball movement of the Bees. Afterwards manager Nigel Clough said his side 'were not a million miles away from the top teams.'
In the last fortnight, the Yorkshire club have faced three of the top five in League One, and performed well against Wolves, Preston and of course Brentford. Unfortunately they couldn't break any of them down, which again might be the case this weekend against another of the 'top sides'.
Orient have been high rollers in the division for the whole campaign, but have gradually lost their grip on an automatic promotion spot. O's boss Russell Slade has performed wonders with a paper-thin squad, but they are now beginning to look jaded. Last weekend's 0-1 defeat to Bradford highlighted their lack of depth, and they got punished on a set-piece by Aaron MacLean.
The Londoners are not in promotion form - and are not scoring either. They are without a victory in four games and have scored just four in their last six (all of which have been under 2.5 goals). This all means the O's are five points behind Brentford and 11 behind Wolves, but they unfortunately cannot rotate like those two.
The hosts welcome back captain Harry Maguire after suspension, whilst Clough will hoping 'Whispering' Bob Harris or Matt Hill will be fit to play at left-back. Maguire's absence has enabled full-back John Brayford to slot in at the heart of the defence. This player is outstanding in League One and should be playing the Premier League. He is on loan from Cardiff, and they are missing a quality ball-player here. Clough said this week that Brayford could go on until he was 45.
With Orient firing blanks up front, I think United can gain another clean sheet here. 2.427/5 looks a fair price for the outright, but I would rather have a dart at the 1-0.
League One 2013/14 P/L (all selections one point)
- 5.77 pts