League Two Betting: Back Mariners to reset with a draw
Grimsby need to stop the rot, while Tranmere look in a good place to win at Oldham with Paul Scholes gone, says Ian Lamont, who also thinks Notts County are a bit short against in-form Morecambe...
"Taking 19 points since Neal Ardley's arrival 19 games ago doesn't bode well for Notts County. Although in another sense, with four wins, that's 11 out of 19 games in which they have earned points. But also eight games in which they haven't scored."
Jolley's men can hold in-form Cobblers
Grimsby [3.1] v Northampton [2.6]; the draw [3.5]
It must be hard to take the positives out of a 4-1 defeat that was the biggest margin of three straight losses. But Michael Jolley tried after Grimsby lost 4-1 at Tranmere.
He didn't sound too convincing, but said the size of the scoreline didn't reflect there was more to like than in last Saturday's loss at Crawley - and they kept a second half clean sheet.
Wes Thomas missed a penalty, Tranmere scored largely in a 10-minute devastating spell and Jolley had made four changes - bringing in Alex Whitmore, Reece Hall-Johnson, Harry Clifton and Jordan Cook.
He clearly felt Elliot Embleton, 19, who has made 25 starts on loan from Sunderland, needed a rest. The midfielder, nonetheless, has been called into England's U20s squad.
Jolley says it is essential Grimsby do not overreact to their recent bad run. They go through these spells. And then they go through periods where they win a string of games. They lost four, before winning four (and drawing one) from the end of January.
Three of those four wins were at Blundell Park, without conceding. So there will be a sense of feeling sure at home again.
Northampton, who defeated Newport in midweek with the only goal of the game, still feel like the ultimate draw collectors, even if only five of their 15 have come away.
Keith Curle's men are doing their best, points wise, to make up what is now a six-point gap to the play-off places and they have only nine games left to achieve something which remains a tall order.
They might have five wins (and two draws) in seven, but only once in that period have their won by more than one goal. And they have never scored more than two. Am I being picky? Well, if you only win by a single goal, then you are always vulnerable to dropping points through an equaliser. Opta emphasise they have four straight wins and last went on a better run (10 straight wins) ending in December 2015.
As well as Joe Powell and Andy Williams being on the ball up front, Charlie Goode and his defensive team-mates will have to be equally on their guard.
Rovers can take advantage of Oldham's woes
Oldham [2.4] v Tranmere [3.3]; the draw [3.5]
You know those awkward moments when someone is staring at their phone and laugh out loud at something they've read, in a crowded public place? Well, that was me between appointments at parents evening when I read that Paul Scholes had quit his dream job at Oldham after 31 days.
There are those Premier League greats - or average but famous players at that level - who make a success of lower league football - Justin Edinburgh, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink - and there are those who don't, like Teddy Sheringham and now Scholes.
Just 31 days doesn't seem to be giving it a chance, especially starting in the middle of the season. Staying till summer would have allowed him to reset, even if, so far, he "wasn't being allowed to operate as I intended or was led to believe". Whatever that means and hides. The Daily Mirror suggests owner Abdallah Lemsagam interfered in player recruitment and possibly team selection. Well, as a manager you can't have that.
The whole episode leaves the Latics red faced, having sacked Frankie Bunn for one 6-0 reverse - or perhaps two defeats in Christmas week - after a seven game of four wins and three draws.
After Bunn was axed, they won three in a row including winning at Fulham in the FA Cup, proving that the experienced hand (if not first team manager) Bunn's methods were sound. Scholes won one and drew three of his seven.
Nine points off the play-offs with nine games left, Callum Lang and Chris O'Grady still have initial 10-goal targets to chase, while the hosts will be without suspended Jose Baxter against Tranmere.
The visitors are on a high, having stuck four past Grimsby, taking James Norwood's goal tally to 25, two more than Oldham have scored away in total. Micky Mellon's side still have a chance - fairly slim - of a second automatic promotion in a row, but look secure in a play-off position.
They have worked their way through a patch of narrow wins to be seven games unbeaten (six wins) with five clean sheets. Connor Jennings has helped Norwood in the scoring department. Mark Ellis, Jake Caprice and Emmanuel Monthe have shut the gate at the back sufficiently to allow the latter to roam up the other end and score. Everything considered, Tranmere are quite a big price, especially as Opta emphasise Oldham haven't won in six and Tranmere have won five, last winning six in a row in the league as long ago as 1991.
As Oldham will be looking to impress yet another manager, and as Tranmere always seem to score, I don't see why a little nibble on
Over 2.5 goals at [2.2] as well.
No disrespect, but Notts County are too short
Notts County [2.16] v Morecambe [3.8]; the draw [3.6]
You've got to love a headline that gives you a misleading impression. "Morecambe will give Notts County their due respect" - despite being second bottom of the league, seemed to be the suggestion.
Hang on? The Magpies would surely be forgiven for (mis)thinking that facing a team in the bottom eight was an easy chance of points.
Yet Jim Bentley rightly suggested that nobody disrespects the Shrimps, just because they are the smallest club in League Two (the only club with an average home gate of under 2,000).
Form suggests the visitors are in better nick, having won twice in a row and scored seven goals, Richard Bennett and Aaron Collins both scoring twice. In fact, in seven of the last eight matches, at least one of them has scored. The other match was the only one in which Morecambe didn't score.
Neal Ardley's men, in contrast, finally got to grips with the concept of having to win to stay up, with a surprise 3-1 win at Carlisle on Tuesday putting them some way back on track. But 19 points since Ardley's arrival 19 games ago doesn't bode well. Although in another sense, with four wins, that's 11 out of 19 games in which they have earned points. But also eight games in which they haven't scored.
At least Kane Hemmings has got into double figures (11) with three goals in two games (and four in five), with Lewis Alessandra also contributing.
Ardley has had to operate against a backdrop of Alan Hardy putting the club up for sale, the chairman's other business collapsing and the club "assuring" supporters that a winding up petition issued by HM Revenue and Customs will be dealt with "in good time".
Hemmings says beating Carlisle means nothing if they can't follow it up, especially as they are still four points off safety, behind third-bottom Yeovil who feature in the day's other basement battle, at home to Macclesfield.
Among the changes on Tuesday, Richard Duffy caught the manager's eye. Craig Mackail-Smith should be back. Jon Stead will take longer. Hemmings, replacing Stead, led the attack well. But the hosts look a short price. What to do? Despite the fact they are above evens and it goes against my policy, I am going to lay the hosts. It's worth noting, as Opta do, that no side has lost more points from winning positions than Notts County (24).
Back Grimsby and Northampton to draw [3.5]
Back Tranmere at [3.3] to win at Oldham
Back Over 2.5 goals at [2.2] in Oldham v Tranmere
Lay Notts County @ [2.16] against Morecambe