Sheffield United were fancied as one of the pre-season favourites for the League One title, but they have slipped to sixth in the table and have lost four of their last seven in all competitions. Their price to win the division has been pushed out to [25.0], and they find themselves eight points adrift of the pacesetters.
The Blades had a bad transfer window, as Reading signed Nick Blackman. The 23-year-old will be a big loss, as United have only scored 16 goals in 14 games on their travels, and Blackman had hit 14 this season. Manager Danny Wilson reinforced the team with the addition of Jonathon Forte, but he has some big shoes to fill.
United had their game postponed in midweek, so their last match was Friday's 2-1 home defeat to Coventry. Wilson moaned again of their (seemingly) Achilles heel of starting poorly in the first-half. They were caught in possession too easily and they lacked a tempo to their play. The Blades did improve greatly in the second period, but their opening-halves are becoming a problem.
Forward Dave Kitson will be leading the line, and he thrives on balls into the box. Midfielder Kevin McDonald is a gifted, technical ball player who is the creator just in behind, but they don't score enough goals for me.
I am struggling to see how this will be a high scoring affair. What with the probable lack of chances from the visitors, Shrewsbury aren't exactly a Shropshire goal-machine. They've found the net 18 times from 15 outings at Greenhous Meadow and their 4-4-2 relies on the hold-up play of Marvin Morgan - who was on the end of some fan disapproval in the recent Bury game.
Salop could do with a forward, but they did hit Preston 2-1 at Deepdale on Saturday. That was a perfect counter-attacking show in which they soaked up 18 attempts, compared to just six of their own. They can be a bit cautious in front of goal and in their build-up play, but are fairly sound sound defensively.
This might be a tense game, with few goals. The under 1.5 goals is becoming quite a nice cover bet, especially up to half-time.
Doncaster are just two defeats from their last 13 matches, and suffered their first reversal on Saturday under new boss Brian Flynn. Bury were the 2-0 winners last weekend at Gigg Lane, with two aspects of the Rovers game not 100 per cent. They conceded goals from set-plays (the bete noire of all managers), whilst not being clinical enough up front - which is always surprising considering their options in the final third.
I have long been a fan of midfielder David Cotterill, a player with a spark who has lost his way a bit, but hopefully his ability to unlock defences will be crucial here. I am not worried about Donny at the back, as they have conceded only 16 goals at the Keepmoat all season. The home team also will have a near fully fit squad to choose from, with only David Syers an injury doubt.
Meanwhile Walsall have racked up an astonishing five home wins on the spin to move up to the heady heights of ninth in the table. Great news, as I am part of the Saddlers boss Dean Smith's fan club. They were really impressive last weekend in beating Oldham 3-1, which was no surprise, an in-form team beat an out-of-form team. Walsall were clinical and assured and the 4-2-3-1 used in that game, enabled their midfield to boss the 90 minutes.
Donny will have to keep quiet several of the Walsall young attackers. Will Grigg picked up his second international cap in midweek for Northern Ireland, and he is an intelligent runner. He works well with Jamie Paterson, himself a fine natural finisher.
There has been a slight backroom shift this week for the Midlanders. Assistant manager David Kelly took on the job nine days ago as a short-term measure, which was just that. He has left for Nottingham Forest to reunite with Billy Davies.
Although Walsall have been superb at home recently, and have also picked up two wins from their last five away, I do like the strength of the home team. The visitors might feel they could take something from this game, which could make for an over 2.5 goals bet.
Coventry City [1.94] v Yeovil Town [4.40], the draw [3.80]
Once again the weather put paid to my Yeovil bet on Tuesday (the second time this winter), but I can't resist going back in for the Glovers at a brilliant price this Saturday.
The men from Huish Park have won their last five games and have moved to within touching distance of the play-offs. Paddy Madden has hit 15 goals this term, and manager Gary Johnson has got this young, exciting team playing for him. It's a settled unit that attack well, backed up by their record of 18 goals from their last eight matches.
Johnson has a decent squad, they play a 4-4-2 and their industrious midfield and ability to get behind teams might just play to the strengths of the Yeovil backers. Madden's pace up front and willingness to chase down lost causes will always keep me on-side at the moment.
Coventry might have a mental hangover from the midweek JPT home defeat to Crewe. Usually I take no notice of those games whatsoever, but they played in front of 31,000 at the Ricoh for that Northern Area semi-final first leg, and they got too excited. Although City enjoyed plenty of possession throughout the game, they got hit by three breakaway goals on the counter-attack.
Leon Clarke however has been in grand goalscoring form, hitting five from six (including a double against Sheffield United) which adds to the attraction of an overs bet this weekend, because I think Yeovil can find the net here.comments powered by Disqus