With or without new faces, the Reds should see off Barnet, says Ian Lamont, who also believes Exeter must land the gamble against Coventry and tips goals at Port Vale...
"The Grecians have slipped from the top three. The next six games will really test their metal: Coventry, Notts County, Luton, Wycombe - all the in the top five - then revitalised Port Vale and another promotion contender, Mansfield. Paul Tisdale couldn’t have picked a stiffer start to the year."
Two sides who had a week off because of the FA Cup last weekend return refreshed. Who will benefit most from the break? Barnet, who Opta state have lost seven of their last nine League Two matches, or Crawley, who the stats men emphasise have lost just once in six at home?
On that basis, Crawley look pretty good value. Boss Harry Kewell says he wants five new signings in January. He's got a lot of catching up to do with Forest Green, because he hasn't nailed one yet.
Whether the Reds boss really has the resources to match Mark Cooper is the question. He'd love to keep Ibrahim Meite on loan from Cardiff, if player and club agree. But he'll be urging him to score a few more goals, to add to his two in six starts and 13 substitute appearances.
Crawley's top scorer is midfielder Jordan Roberts with six. Winning three matches from four has given them breathing space away from the relegation zone with Enzio Boldewijn netting three recently after a long barren spell.
Barnet, bottom of the league, have a more pressing need for victory. Fuad Sule, a recruit in midfield from Bohemians in Ireland, might well get his chance to impress. Shaquille Coulthirst and John Akinde could do with finding the net for Mark McGhee, who has a fight on his hands to keep the Bees buzzing in the Football League. A poor away record is set to continue at a team who now have some confidence at the Checkatrade.
Back Crawley to beat Barnet @ [2.5]
Rarely do clubs like to spill internal targets. So it was interesting to read this week, finally, the confession from the Exeter City camp that the players have had the target of automatic promotion drummed into them. Funny, because within a couple of days I read articles which pretty much said the same from the Coventry camp.
The Grecians have slipped from the top three. The next six games will really test their metal: Coventry, Notts County, Luton, Wycombe - all the in the top five - then revitalised Port Vale and another promotion contender, Mansfield. Paul Tisdale couldn't have picked a stiffer start to the year.
Now without Reuben Reid, who has switched to Forest Green, and without the FA Cup to dream about any more, Exeter can concentrate on gaining third spot. They seem to have their eye on Ryan Loft, 20, a Tottenham striker described as in the Duncan Ferguson mould by Darren Sarll, who had him on loan at Stevenage last season. They need someone to support Jayden Stockley, whose eight goals make him top scorer.
As competent as the Devon side are, they just might need a battering ram, or a fresh face or two, to kick start a push for the top three spot they so covet after losing in last season's play-off final.
If I was an Exeter fan, I wouldn't be thinking that my first priority would be to sign another keeper - Paul Jones, on loan from Norwich, has come in but surely as a senior understudy to Christy Pym. A bit of creatively going forward, to take opponents by surprise, might be a better option.
The hosts also need to make the most of their recent run at St James Park - where they have won the last four and scored exactly twice in each one, state Opta. Nine wins overall is a great mark up on this time last year.
Coventry still have the distraction of the FA Cup and even if their minds are not yet on the trip to MK Dons, their bodies will be exhausted from the euphoria of defeating Stoke. Much of the responsibility for scoring now falls to Mark McNulty now that Duckens Nazon has returned to Wolves after a loan spell, although after the cracker that sent Mark Hughes' men crashing out of the cup, Jack Grimmer showed a rivalry in the scoring department.
This match could easily finish level, but if Tisdale has real ambitions to finish in the top three this season his side must kick start their charge at the start of a tough run of games.
Back Exeter to beat Coventry @ [3.0]
Jim Bentley was no doubt absolutely thrilled with Morecambe's away performance at Grimsby, who seem hit and miss at present.
Six points from two games is a bit of a rarity for the Shrimps, achieving it for the first time since February last year, report Opta. Three in a row was last achieved in August 2016.
I believe they have they have the opportunity to match that now, for a couple of reasons - and not just the fine form of Kevin Ellison and Steven Old.
Stevenage not only have an FA Cup replay at Reading to preface their minds, but their away form is terrible. Opta emphasise that they have lost their last eight league games on the road, scoring in just two.
Undoubtedly Darren Sarll will look on a trip to lowly Morecambe to rectify that, but home keeper Barry Roche will not want to pass up what seems the strong chance of a clean sheet. He has kept three in the last five matches the Lancashire side have won.
Matt Godden, Dan Newton and Tom Pett are capable of scoring, but opponents always seem to be finding a way to defeat Boro away from the Broadfield. It might not be a classic, but the hosts deserve the vote for their momentum.
Back Morecambe to beat Stevenage @[2.6]
The last thing Yeovil needed ahead of the trip to Port Vale was to see a striker added to the ranks alongside the prolific Tom Pope. A striker from higher levels this time, rather than the rawer Dior Angus from Redditch, whom Valiants boss Neil Aspin believes is one for the future.
Of course, there is no guarantee that Donovan Wilson, from Wolves' under-23 squad, will prove the perfect fit with Pope, but Aspin says he has had recommendations from people he trusts at the Championship leaders to say that the forward is ready for league football.
The home manager doesn't seem to be taking any prisoners - or chances - as his side attempt to climb safely away from the relegation zone, while surely a top seven spot is a bit of a stretch.
This should, however, be the sort of fixture where they have the confidence to press for goals as they seek a bit of revenge for December's 3-2 FA Cup defeat.
Yeovil have scored 13 goals in their seven games since defeating Port Vale, including in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday, while only failing to score once - in the 0-0 draw at Mansfield.
Nobody will want to miss out on the FA Cup fourth round match at home to Manchester United, which gives Francois Zoko and Fela Olomola with the perfect excuse to flex their scoring muscles. This shouldn't be a game that lacks goals.
Back over 2.5 goals in Port Vale v Yeovil @ [2.2]
FA Cup +12pt