League Two Betting: Scunthorpe can add to Newport woes

Paul Hurst, the Scunthorpe United manager
Paul Hurst's Scunthorpe should refind their winning feat against beleaguered Newport

The Exiles need an injection of confidence, possibly more recruits, so Paul Hurst's men can take advantage says Ian Lamont, who says there's life after Eoin Doyle for Swindon...

"Salford's famous owners have sunk £2.5million extra into the club this week, which seems odd timing. January isn't the time to build a team, and they are not exactly striking it hot on the promotion trail."

Iron in firmer state than Waters

Scunthorpe 2.3211/8 v Newport 3.55/2; the draw 3.55/2

It is going to take a lot more than one new face to bring Newport happiness, I fear. And Billy Waters, brought in by Michael Flynn this week, may not be wholly the answer the Newport boss is looking for.

By which I mean it is going to take a lot more than a winger who has knocked around Cheltenham and Northampton in League Two without really nailing down a place. After starring in non-league for Cheltenham, he has played in fits and starts for both clubs - and also gone on loan at Cambridge - since the Robins returned to the Football League.

Maybe Flynn can finally get the best out of him. Waters is himself taking a gamble that Flynn is kept on at the Exiles. Plenty of clubs would have ejected a manager on a nine-game winless run, when the ambition is promotion. The Welsh side have just three points from a possible 27.

The visitors' poor award record - scoring just seven times in 10, winning two and drawing three - is in contrast to a decent home return (two defeats) and three seasons of FA Cup runs. But it has been their travels that have let them down in the league last season too, when they scraped into the play-offs having lost 12 times on the road.

Great second half of the seasons seem to be Newport's modus operandi under Flynn, whose side escaped relegation having been long adrift when he arrived in March 2017. Padraig Amond and Joss Ladabie remain his generals, mustering spirit among the other forces such as Jamille Matt. They do need, then, the likes of Waters as his best to share the creative and scoring load.

They face Scunthorpe, however, who are in a far better place, mentally and physically, if only one place above them in the table.

Latecomers to this season's League Two party the Iron have put together several runs of form under Paul Hurst. Defeat to Plymouth, bang back in form, was no surprise. It was in fact their third defeat in four, the others to promotion-chasing Crewe and temporarily in-form Walsall, while winning at Oldham.

Before Christmas, they put together an eight-game undefeated run, five wins. Or even better, one defeat in 12, six wins, five draws. In that run-up to Christmas, they were unbeaten at Glanford Park in eight - four wins, four draws. Their habit, and mentality, is winning.

Eight-goal top scorer Kevin van Veen, who netted as a substitute against Plymouth, feels it. Abo Eisa, another regular scorer, knows it, as do Alex Gilliead and Lee Novak (who the manager has urged fans to stick with after they questioned his scoring rate). One of then, by the laws of averages, will put Newport to the sword. And it very well could just be only one of them.

Stags can hold Rovers on the March

Mansfield 2.546/4 v Forest Green 3.211/5; the draw 3.55/2

Forest Green were toothless against Crawley last Saturday. Centre forward Aaron Collins was annonymous, so few were his touches.

Ebo Adams, debutant Javani Brown and Junior Mondial put in plenty of nice touches, but couldn't find a way to goal past Crawley's stubborn if rather underworked defence.

So it will be a great relief for Mark Cooper to have brought in a striker, knowing full well he needs a proven one to keep Forest Green as a serious force in the promotion picture, with Reuben Reid injured.

Whether 22-year-old Josh March, signed after scoring 24 goals in 27 games for Leamington in the National League North, is the polished product he needs is the question. Rovers could do with pressing early, if Opta are to add to the stat that Mansfield have conceded a league high eight times in the first 15 minutes of matches.

Will March be in the category of those who can score on his debut for a new club? At least Rovers are solid - mostly - at the back, conceding twice in four games, after letting two slip against Swindon, with whom they drew. So, even without a proven goalscorer, it seems they have been either able to win or lose by small margins, or pin opponents to draws.

Put all that into the mix and Mansfield's fortunes also point to this game finishing level. Graham Coughlan left Bristol Rovers to replace John Dempster but since his appointment he has won once in five games.

They even lost to Grimsby (revived a little by Ian Holloway, but only to score once). The Stags showed fight to be the equals of Northampton and Port Vale in scoring draws, before Nicky Maynard finally lived up to his billing with a treble against Cambridge. Four goals in his last four games is as many as his previous 16, point out Opta.

That defeat against the Mariners last Saturday will really sting taking, as it did, their run of games when they have conceded to eight. In fact, they have let in at least one goal in all but one of their past 14 League Two matches.

Defender Matt Pearson voiced his frustration that they could not build on their win over Cambridge; Coughlan says he will be patient in the transfer window, while Leeds have recalled Conor Shaughnessy from his loan. Another win for the hosts might be a while coming.

Swindon must show they have strenth in depth

Swindon 2.546/4 v Crewe 3.02/1; the draw 3.711/4

Now that Eoin Doyle has been recalled by Bradford, we have clarity over Swindon's top scorer's future. It's not with the team he has propelled to the top of League Two, as visiting boss David Artell predicted having "heard from a director" during the Robins' game with the Bantams last weekend. Bradford and Swindon fans, in their different ways, were thankful for a third party imparting this information.

So what of Swindon's prospects now? They were held by the Bantams - who like to draw away, six times in total - thanks to Jerry Yates, their second top scorer who is also on loan, netting. It can only be a matter of time before Kaiyne Woolery gets his fair share of goals alongside him, or Keshi Anderson takes his chance to shine. They are not going to create any fewer chances with Doyle gone - he was just finishing them all.

Richie Wellens' men have only conceded 12 at the County Ground, where they have a plus nine goal difference and where they were last defeated at the end of September. Seven matches at home since, unbeaten with three games conceded. Opta offer a cautionary note though: Swindon lost this exact fixture last year, after six straight home wins against Crewe - who have won the last three games between the sides.

That was then. This season Swindon are vastly improved. That could be to do with Doyle. We are about to find out what Wellens has up his sleeves. Opta also note that these are the two top scoring teams in the division.

Artell's visitors, for their part, have a bigger spread of goalscorers, from six goal Chuma Anene and Daniel Powell to eight-goal Chris Porter. A more rounded team? Their manager would no doubt like to think so as they also vie for the title, being six points behind their hosts with two games in hand.

Powell has four goals in the past two League Two games, which were 4-1 and 3-1 wins over Carlisle and Scunthorpe. At home. Away things are different. Contrast defeats at Salford and Northampton with a 5-1 thumping of Stevenage and against a goalless draw at Forest Green in the past eight weeks. Clean sheets are rare. Five all season. Swindon have nine, including four in the past eight games. They should be able to edge victory in a classic tussle, as the psychology of the Railwaymen not facing their biggest goal threat plays into Swindon's hands.

Cobblers want promotion, Ammies up the ambition

Salford 2.546/4 v Northampton 3.185/40; the draw 3.613/5

There are a few options for decent priced wins left on the board: Macclesfield at home to Oldham at 3.02/1; Grimsby to win at Leyton Orient at 3.185/40. But I fancy the draw between the ambitious Ammies and their equally ambitious visitors.

Salford's famous owners have sunk £2.5million extra funding into the club this week, which seems odd timing. January isn't the time to build a team, and they are not exactly striking it hot on the promotion trail. They are eight points behind the play-offs. And yet...

....on Thursday they signed striker Tom Elliott from Millwall for 2.5 years. They must rate him, not only because he has scored just seven goals in 57 games and barely played this season, but also because contracts that length are not banded about by many teams in this division. Even Accrington had to break their mould with longer than one-year deals before they built a team to go up.

So Graham Alexander's club's ambition is clearly upwards. Maybe not this season though. They don't have the form to sustain a push, surely? Big 4-1 and 3-1 wins over Oldham and - surprisingly - Crewe were against the grain of scoring once or not at all in most matches. They have those two wins, and three draws in their last eight, with one win at home in six, say Opta.

Top scorers Adam Rooney (6), who last scored five games ago, and Brandon Thomas-Asante, 21, who has his four in the last four games, will certainly be on their toes now with a rival. With Jake Jervis adding some from midfield, the hosts certainly have talent and the low-scoring of their top scorers is a reason the club have brought in reinforcements.

However, the Cobblers have had a taste of the play-off spots and are on a wrong upward curve. Starting 12 games ago, they took five wins and a draw, then have had two defeats, two draws and two wins since. And they have just reached the fourth round of the FA Cup, too, with an emphatic win at Burton, earning the prospect of hosting Wayne Rooney and Derby live on BT Sport on Friday January 24.

They had a surprising capitulation at Crawley on Boxing Day - 4-0, the only game in which they have failed to score in 15 League Two and FA Cup games.

Opta state that Northampton have scored seven goals from corners - more than any other League Two team - so set pieces are a big thing. But they don't say how many of Nicky Adams' assists are corners. He has seven assists, the highest among his team.

The P word - promotion - is on the lips of their manager. Keith Curle's men can be excused for being a little weary from their FA Cup exploits. But Jordan Turnbull and Scott Wharton ought to be able to find sufficient ways of stopping the hosts, while Andy Wharton and Sam Hoskins look for chances at the other end.

P/L 2019-20

-7.98pt

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