Low-scoring Tranmere could be vulnerable to the Silkman on Friday, argues Ian Lamont, who picks MK Dons to pile the pressure on Joe Dunne at Cambridge on Saturday, and lays Carlisle at home...
"Cambridge can't keep using the "we've been unlucky" excuse, especially when they concede so many, giving them a goal difference of -14. Conceding goals is a fundamental flaw."
Silkmen showing heart - and goals
Friday October 12,
Tranmere [1.78] v Macclesfield [5.3]; the draw [4.0]
I've often plumped for a "Friday night is shock night" - and here's a case in point. Something tells me Macclesfield have a chance of achieving what would be a shock result at Prenton Park.
The Silkmen actually seemed to be getting better before Monday's announcement that they had "parted company" with Mark Yates, the fifth managerial change in League Two this season. Two early season draws had been followed by a string of League Two reverses - four in a row, sandwiched between the League Cup win on penalties at Walsall after a 3-3 draw and the next match in the competition, the 8-0 thrashing at West Ham.
They had already beaten Bradford on penalties after a 1-1 draw, too. Often, players will be distracted by a big cup game looming or a cup run. It's human nature - whether in their conscious thinking or sub-conscious, that they don't want to get injured and miss out on the big day. That can often account for a form loss.
And, yes, I am arguing that Macclesfield did have some sort of form - those two draws and some other goals in their first five games. They only failed to score in one of them. So, while "returning to form", is relative, Yates' men had proved the point with a 1-1 result against draw kings Forest Green and then a 3-3 draw at Newport, where they led 2-0 (early on) and 3-2 in the 82nd minute, only to concede in the seventh minute of time added on. They followed this with a narrow defeat to Notts County, who are back in form.
Macclesfield noted, in their announcement, that Yates had suffered huge doses of ill-luck with his team, especially on the injury front. They only appointed him in June, and yet they seem to want to bring in someone else to work miracles on the same basis, with the same injured players and presumably same bad luck.
Well, good luck. It worked for Notts County after all. And if it can work for the Magpies, the "new broom" theory, even under a temporary manager, might just work on an autumn evening at Tranmere.
Only Fiacre Kelleher's poor back pass (and subsequent penalty) cost Macclesfield at Notts County. Which isn't so much bad luck as an avoidable error. The defender is on Macclesfield's short list of scorers this season (including in the League Cup), which goes some way to making up for it. Harry Smith and Scott Wilson have to start firing more than a goal each in the league. Peter Vincenti still has goals in him, proven in the 4-1 Football League Trophy defeat on Tuesday.
Tranmere, by much logic, should win here. They beat battling Morecambe 4-3 at the weekend, but their home record is a little bit odd. They have scored either one goal or no goals in their League Two fixtures at home this season - three wins, two draws and a defeat (also only conceded one). They have scored just four and conceded two. So they are there for the taking, even with the likes of James Norwood on board.
As the Silkmen look to impress a new boss - whoever that may be - their tails should be up to make a fight of it. They have at least been scoring. I'm tempted by laying the short-priced Rovers, but I can't resist a big Friday night price. Back it in the hope of cashing out if you must.
Saturday kick offs, 15:00
McGreal's marauders look formidable up front
Colchester [1.8] v Crawley [5.2]; the draw [4.0]
Crawley's form looks impressive, if you look at the six-game form table, in which they lie third. The trouble is they only have 12 points. So the top end of that particular form line is not a great reflection on those occupying it. Usually a third placed team would have 14 points.
In addition, Crawley have a poor away record (two wins from six, four goals and seven against) - and certainly not a good enough to rival Colchester's at home, which is won four, lost two, with a 16-5 goal difference.
Even without the 6-0 drubbing of Crewe the goal difference is good. As is the fact they have scored in every game bar one - on the opening day.
Luke Norris (5), Frank Nouble (3), Sam Szmodics (3) and Harry Pell (3) make the U's formidable opponents.
Crawley have also scored in most games - all but two, with both those blanks fired away from home. In their other away games, they have scored only once at a time, apart from the 2-2 draw at Swindon.
Ollie Palmer (4) Dominic Poleon (1) - he's a better strike than that tally - and Ashley Nathaniel-George (2) don't seem to be hitting the heights of their hosts, making this one England trip relatively new boss Gabriele Cioffi won't enjoy. However, I can't back Colchester at a short price, therefore I am going to go for over 2.5 goals @ [2.04].
Dons to add to Dunne's Cambridge woes
Cambridge [3.3] v MK Dons [2.4]; the draw [3.55]
With five managerial changes in League Two already this season, the Cambridge board must be thinking about whether they can justify a sixth. Joe Dunne must have a sense of impending doom every time he looks at a league table, given that the U's are second to bottom with just two wins and two draws and the worst goal difference in League Two, being -14.
They have led in two of their most recent three defeats, 2-0 at Newport but losing 4-2, and scoring against Forest Green but losing 3-1 and having Jake Carroll sent off.
Jevani Brown is enjoying himself, having penned a new contract, Reggie Lambe scored the goals against Newport, but they can't keep using the "we've been unlucky" excuse, especially when they concede so many. That's a fundamental flaw.
MK Dons will expose this at most opportunities. Kieran Agard and Chuks Aneke are doing their best to fulfil their manager Paul Tisdale's aim of promotion. Cardiff loanee Rhys Healey is finding his feet now, too. Defenders like Jordan Moore-Taylor won't have much trouble soaking up the Cambridge attacks.
Injury-hit Shrimps must still have a chance in local affair
Carlisle [1.92] v Morecambe [4.2]; the draw [4.0]
I weighed up whether to go for the win for Lincoln, at [2.2], or victory for Morecambe at [4.4]. The value is with the Shrimps. However, it might be better to lay Carlisle.
I can't be having Morecambe at such a long price, especially as they have found some wins recently and also scored nine times in four games - two goals in three of those and three against Tranmere before suffering a sucker punch with a minute to go and losing 4-3.
Jim Bentley is right: they shouldn't be scoring three at home and losing, but they have one of their shorter trips of the season to put that right. AJ Leitch-Smith and Rhys Oates having confidence from scoring in recent games, while Liam Mandeville is capable of chipping in too.
The trouble is the club's injury list - Bentley says it is the worst he has seen - now might include Kevin Ellison, injured in the Football League Trophy, and Aaron Wildig, who took a knock against Tranmere last weekend. The manager hopes they will be alright for Saturday, even playing through pain.
Carlisle have been inconsistent, losing their last three home games without scoring a goal, while beating Bury and Oldham away. You could understand that record if it was the other way around.
Mike Jones is glad to be back after two months out with injury, but finds strong competition in United's midfield. John Sheridan's men will look to put their home form right, but both sides will see this as a great opportunity for points. The hosts seem short to me, so I'm going to lay them, which covers the draw.
Ian's 2018-19 League Two P/L
Back Macclesfield to beat Tranmere (Friday) @ [5.3]
Back over 2.5 goals in Colchester v Crawley @ [2.04]
Back MK Dons to beat Cambridge @ [2.4]
Lay Carlisle at home to Morecambe @ [1.92]