The big match in League One this weekend is between Plymouth and Portsmouth at Home Park. Our third tier man Alan Dudman is once again backing Argyle to take the points as the race for promotions hots up...
"Plymouth continue to win games and often just bully teams with their play. And I would rather take the [2.60] on offer for a Home Park win, then back the Wigan price at much shorter for their fixture against Rotherham."
Backing the draw the sensible play
Oxford United v Southend United
This is one of those tricky end of season games where neither team is in good form, and the one who needs the points most is favourite. Oxford are tentatively priced up at [2.52], and they play against a Southend team who have failed to win in five away matches.
So I am not sure that away price appeals much. They have only scored once in those five road games too. No thanks.
With the U's in 20th position in the league, this is a must-win game as they are only five points clear of Rochdale (who have a match in hand). Since Karl Robinson took over as manager, he is yet to win - whilst his former team Charlton are flying.
One wonders if Oxford were to go down, what happens to the stock of KR. Once the bright young thing, whose teams used to play tremendous football. Now?
However, the general feeling is that his team are playing well enough but they just cannot score. Indeed, they have found the net just six times in their last nine. But Southend have one of the worst defensive records in the division.
The visitors have been involved in plenty of low-scoring draws recently, and failed to score against the likes of Bury and Rochdale. The Under 2.5 bet appeals slightly, likewise a pair of punts on the 0-0 and 1-1. But we backed the draw with Oxford recently at home to Oldham, and we'll go that way again.
Iron's lack of a clean sheet to help the BTTS backers
Charlton Athletic v Scunthorpe United
Backers of the draw have been cleaning up of late with Scunthorpe. Mind you, the layers have been doing quite well too. For a side that has been in and around the playoff places for much of the campaign, they are in danger of throwing away a shot at promotion.
They have slipped to 9th, but are just a point behind Charlton. However, it's their run of results that is most revealing. They have won just once in their last 15 matches, and they have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of those 15 games. Staggering stuff for a potential playoff team.
Sacking Graham Alexander was a ridiculous decision at such a critical point, and it seems the caretaker duo of Nick Daws and Andy Dawson have failed to spark an improvement.
Charlton lost at Wimbledon on Tuesday, but they will be far happier back at home at the Valley following a couple of impressive victories against Plymouth and Rotherham. They smashed three past the Millers, whilst Plymouth are the form team in League One. The Addicks are a fair price at [1.99].
However, I started with Scunthorpe's knack of drawing games, and we have to be looking at using the draw price here. The Iron are now seven from their last nine with the stalemate, and their last three matches have all ended 1-1. That's six 1-1 scorelines in 15, and ten all season.
To cover that selection, it's an obvious call to side with the BTTS bet, as the visitors have been good value for that all season. In fact, they are the best - with 14 of their last 15 hitting that target.
Greens overpriced - yet again!
Plymouth Argyle v Portsmouth
I couldn't leave out my beloved Plymouth for this weekend, although what a match between two proper clubs for Saturday. It's 5th against 7th, with just a point to separate the pair.
You know my feelings regarding the "super Greens", but the message still hasn't quite filtered into the markets. Since Plymouth's revival, they continually are priced up at bigger odds. Take for example Oxford this weekend - who have won once in 11 matches. Compare that to Derek Adams' side; who have won five home matches on the spin - and beaten some good teams too. Yet Argyle are the larger price.
The Greens have won 12 at home this season, and so have Wigan. Yet the Latics are [1.69] this Saturday at home to Rotherham. You get my drift.
Make no mistake, this is a massive game with regards the play-off chase, and Portsmouth have bounced back to form in tremendous style with a run of four victories in five. That sequence includes the home win against Wigan, a match I got completely wrong with my TV preview. I was really impressed with Jamal Lowe in that game, and the wide man is enjoying a fine season.
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett has got his big players back, as his midfield was looking a little lightweight earlier during the winter. I am not underestimating the visitors at all here, neither is the market at [2.70]. However, Plymouth continue to win games and often just bully teams with their play. And I would rather take the [2.60] on offer for a Home Park win, then back the Wigan price at much shorter.
Alan Dudman's P&L, 2017/18
League One: +21.64
Back The Draw 0.5pt @ [3.55] between Oxford and Southend
Back The Draw 0.5pt @ [3.45] between Charlton and Scunthorpe
Back BTTS 0.5pt @ [1.85] between Charlton and Scunthorpe
Back Plymouth Argyle 0.5pt @ [2.60] to beat Portmouth