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League Two Betting: Crewe have chance to prove credentials

Dave Artell, the Crewe Alexandra manager
Dave Artell's Crewe have climbed to within a point of the summit of League Two
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Dave Artell's men are riding high and can pin down luckless Stevenage, while Colchester could be held as Crawley look to reset...

"Colchester have started to boss things, with three wins and a draw from five and scoring in each, nine in total. They have conceded in their last three, however, giving the hosts every chance of netting. One defeat in nine though demonstrates why they are on the edge of the play-off places."

Cioffi looks to reset and Colchester can hold them

Crawley Town [2.9] v Colchester United [2.74]; the draw [3.4]
Just when Crawley seemed to be getting their game and consistency together, they go off the boil. A tun of three wins and a draw were added to by two draws - and now their recent run is just two draws in a winless run of four.

How quickly they seem to have lost form. Completely undone early by Walsall a fortnight ago, at least they have continued to score - two goals each in the first three of those games.

Playing the team who went top, Forest Green, last weekend was a tough enough task without giving away two penalties, which really won't have pleased Gabriele Cioffi.

He already wanted them to "start again" after losing their unbeaten record against the Saddlers. This weekend will be just as tough for keeper Glenn Morris and others in defence, whether or not Dannie Bulman gets the chance to boss the defensive midfield.

It's good that the Reds have kept up their record of scoring in every match, although interestingly Opta offer that, despite that indicating they are full of goals, only Exeter's Randell Williams (22) has had more shots without scoring in League Two this season than Crawley's Panutche Camara (21).

If Ashley Nathaniel-George, who replaced Bulman after the hour on Saturday, or Bez Lubala can score then they have a chance of a positive result here.

The trouble is Colchester have started to boss things, with three wins and a draw from five and scoring in each, nine in total. They have conceded in their last three, however, giving the hosts every chance of netting. One defeat in nine though demonstrates why they are on the edge of the play-off places.

They, too, lost at Forest Green - that's the one defeat - but won at Swindon before then drawing at Macclesfield, who are proving difficult to beat especially at home.

The visitors shouldn't be relying on Tom Eastman, returning to the Broadfield where he once played on loan as a teenager, to score, and he has two goals now. Frank Nouble (3), Theo Robinson (3) and Luke Norris (4) need to take the majority of responsibility for John McGreal's side. If the hosts put their game faces on, they might grab a draw.

Silkmen can hold Valiants looking for away success

Macclesfield [3.0] v Port Vale [2.62]; the draw [3.45]

Port Vale have not won away yet this season, in six attempts, and they only won once in their final eight away games last season. A poor goal difference away, 7-13, is largely down to a 5-2 defeat at Grimsby and 2-0 defeat at Exeter.

They have draws at Colchester, Salford and, latterly, at Leyton Orient with a thrilling 3-3 draw. Skipper Tom Pope, once a regular top scorer in this division, has proved he still has some goals in him, and the 3-1 win over Morecambe has given John Askey belief his side can get promotion. One Opta stat should give Pope nourishment too. Since returning to the Valiants in 2017-18, he has scored 31 league goals - at least 22 more than any of his fellow team-mates, who clearly need to up their game!

Picking up more points away is key to that. Currently defender Nathan Smith is joint top scorer with Pope and his fellow forward Richard Bennett. Goals confidence must be high after eight in three games.

However, Macclesfield will be eyeing one - or even three - points from this fixture, even if Daryl McMahon isn't making any noises about promotion. Sensibly, because the Silkmen really lack the resources to compete, which has to be one of the reasons Sol Campbell left. If he was the wrong fish in this pond, McMahon seems to have galvanised and made them tough to get past at Moss Rose.

Or anywhere. Only a 3-0 loss at Swindon sticks out from their results pretty much all season, because the other times they have conceded twice they have also scored twice. But five draws in their past seven games, and no wins, combined with only one defeat at home, suggests that if Theo Archibald or Emmanuel Osabade can add to their three goals each, the chances are their opponents will match them.

Artell's climbers need to prove their promotion credentials

Carlisle [3.5] v Crewe [2.2]; the draw [3.8]

Dave Artell felt his side showed they were a good side against the best opposition they have faced this season, Exeter, last weekend, in the top of the table clash.

However, if he wishes to keep his side thinking they are genuine automatic promotion contenders, it is the likes of Carlisle they have to beat.

If Chuka Anene can keep learning at the rate he has since signing and joining the squad late in the process on loan from FC Midtjylland, then maybe they - and Artell - have the abilities to keep finding those percentages to win games.

They already have League Two's best away points tally, with 13, courtesy of wins at Oldham, Grimsby, Crawley and Leyton Orient, none of who are set to threaten the promotion places but all of who have shown decent form. The Railwaymen have only failed to score in two games this season. Chris Porter and Tom Lowery, both with four goals, seem to be finding an understanding.

Steven Pressley felt Carlisle were hard done by to lose late in injury time at Newport last weekend. Their form has been more prosaic than their visitors', and half of their six goals in their past six games have been scored by one man, Olufela Olomola, taking his tally to five this season. Crewe also have to look out for Harry McKirdy, but such is the tightness at the summit they could leap from fourth to the top with a win. That should at least inspire them to get three points.

Mariners unlikely to let Stevenage off the hook

Stevenage [2.9] v Grimsby [2.8]; the draw [3.4]

As Bradford are too short priced to back - odds-on at Morecambe - and the over 2.5 goals are just below evens too, it's time instead to take a chance on Grimsby winning at Stevenage.

It's a chance because the record of Michael Jolley's men is bitty, having lost at home to Mansfield after wins at Exeter and at home to Macclesfield. Opta point out they are now aiming for back-to-back away wins for the first time since 2018. Their record in their last four away games is won two, lost one and drawn one, so there's a decent chance.

So, if Jolley can not only get Ethan Robson to continue to fire but inspire James Hanson to rediscover his scoring touch (his five goals all came in August) the Mariners could push in to the top seven.

I have a feeling they ought to score. I am not so convinced about Stevenage, who have needed four ties in five games under Mark Sampson, who is still searching for his first win. In fact, Stevenage's first win of the season. He wants to see the "ugly things" as they get desperate.

Two points returned is in contrast to former manager Dino Maamria's four in three at Oldham. And even when Kurtis Guthrie did score twice, they still lost 3-2 at home to Carlisle. The visitors are worth the chance. Guthrie scored twice the last time these two clashed at Broadhall Way, Opta remind us, starting an unbeaten six game run.

P/L 2019-20

-6.3pt

Ian Lamont,

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