League Two Betting: Back Ameobi and the Magpies

Shola Ameobi has scored recently in Notts County's good run
Shola Ameobi has scored recently in Notts County's good run

Ian Lamont finds plenty of positives in the stats to think that Notts County and Crewe can win, while giving Carlisle a chance of a positive result at Yeovil...


"Victory at Plymouth in a run of one defeat in nine (winning six) is also a big scalp for Notts County and Opta point out that they have won four of their last six home league games."

Notts County 2.6413/8 v Colchester United 3.185/40; the draw 3.39/4

Chairman Alan Hardy says he has no regrets in buying Notts County in January, despite admitting it will take until 2022 to even break even. Unless, of course, the Magpies get lucky in the giant money fest (for lower division clubs) which is the FA Cup. Or they sell all their players for £1 million each.

The first scenario is more likely than the second, especially given that Kevin Nugent's men remain in the lower reaches of League Two. In one sense Hardy knew what he was taking on - a business he needs to turn around, in some ways no different to handling our national deficit or a mortgage.

Except football is no ordinary business. It offers the shallowest potential for profit and is full of short-termism, because a few bad results can bring utter disaster such as relegation out of the Football League. What's important is for the fans to have a relationship with their board or leader, otherwise their ire quickly becomes the story. See Blackpool and Leyton Orient.

On the positive side, Hardy tweeted on Thursday night that he'd had an unprecedented number of agents whose players want to join next season.

Anyway, to the action. County actually have another good chance of winning here, having been in decent nick with one defeat in nine, winning six.

Narrow margins were often involved, mind, such as when Shola Ameobi netted the only goal at Wycombe, or Matt Tootle, a defender, did the same in the home win against Barnet. Victory at Plymouth in that run is also a big scalp and Opta point out that County have won four of their last six home league games. They also drew the seventh to last, which was Nolan's first game in charge.

Four clean sheets in their last six games won't do their confidence any harm either, unlike Colchester, who the stats men add haven't stopped opponents scoring in any of their last eight away games, failing to win their last seven.

Add to that Colchester have earned a positive result in every other game in their last seven, and the pattern suggests a defeat. Without scoring either, having drawn blanks in those losses. It's a slightly spurious pointer, because those opponents (Grimsby, Portsmouth and Crewe) are much better placed than the Magpies.

So Ben Dickenson, who has had a hand in four of Colchester's last five goals, emphasise Opta (and who has 10 this season), and his team-mates including fellow recent scorers Chris Porter (13 in total) or Sammie Szmodics (5) have some way to go to convince me they can earn anything here.

Recommended Bet
Back Notts County 2.6413/8


Newport County 2.26/5 v Crawley Town 3.711/4; the draw 3.55/2

One wonders how teams have been preparing to face Newport on a reportedly terrible pitch. I can remember hearing tales of the club near where I grew up, Aldershot, training in the local park. But that was because they didn't have any money - this was decades ago, before they went bust.

But it sounds like it might have been good preparation for Rodney Parade. Even Graham Westley resorted to having one method for playing there and another for away games.

How will it affect Crawley's pretty decent recent away record of four unbeaten? Skipper Jimmy Smith is hoping the Reds can earn back-to-back wins for only the fourth time this season, having defeated Leyton Orient.

More consistency in the remaining seven games is what Smith demands.

Will that be enough against a side showing remarkable signs of life and six points from safety. The Exiles are not ready to be annexed from the Football League just yet if manager Mike Flynn has anything to do with it. He says continuing speculation about the ground, with the Welsh RFU wanting to take over Newport Gwent Dragons and potentially call the shots over County, has not affected the players.

I would imagine they have enough to worry about, such as whether they will have a livelihood to continue if they are relegated. At least if they were in the Conference they would be allowed to play on a planned 4G pitch (planned by the WRFU to clear waterlogging), which isn't allowed under Football League rules.

County, who top the League Two Opta stats for yellow cards with 93, just have to find a way to turn one goal - or a maximum two - into definite victories. Alex Samuel has two of those, Sean Rigg is capable of providing or scoring, while Ryan Bird also needs to find a purple patch again. It's not so hard to imagine a home win as necessity dictates.

Recommended Bet
Back Newport County @ 2.26/5


Yeovil Town 2.568/5 v Carlisle United 3.185/40; the draw 3.55/2

It is amazing how a few weeks and a sale of your top player in the January transfer window - something every manager fears - can do to your season.

Carlisle were flying high at Christmas the only real criticism that seemed to be levelled against them being that they drew too much instead of winning. Well, at least it wasn't losing, which is what Keith Curle's men have done in six of their last seven games (one draw).

I think I read something Exeter based that said they were now only just in the playoffs, "only above Carlisle on goal difference", as if the Cumbrians were a dragon-type beast fast charging up to take their precious top seven spot away. Far from it. The visitors to Huish Park have huffed and puffed without scoring for seven games - and their once healthy goal difference is now -2.

It's a far cry from sitting second in the division for much of the season and looking like they could push on possibly even to win the title. Now it seems as if they seem to be apologetically driving against the traffic in a one way street.

The last side to play eight games without scoring were Hartlepool in March and April 2013, say Opta, a statistic they neatly juxtapose with Carlisle having won more games from behind than any other League Two side this season (5). Not recently, though, clearly.

Three of them have been away from home - a league high, Opta add. So does that give the side that signed two players to replace top scorer Charlie Wyke a chance against the Glovers? Without Shaun Miller as he starts a four-game ban? Without Nicky Adams who has joined the injured list?

There is a lot resting on the likes of Jabo Ibehre, injury returnee Jamie Devitt, who was substituted in his first game back to protect him, and the new faces signed in January who have not played yet, such as Ben Tomlinson, who needed more time to get fit.

At least midfielder Samir Nabi's international clearance has finally arrived. If he is now fit enough to play, could that be the tiny turn of luck to change their fortunes? Or is it that falling out of the top seven will finally inspire them to grind out a positive result, with a goal in tow?

Darren Way's men will have other ideas, with three straight draws being scoring ones at least. They have only won once in 11 however, drawing eight. Even when 3-1 up through Francois Zoko, Shayon Harrison and Alex Lacey they managed to draw, at Exeter.

That brings Carlisle's "comeback" statistic into sharper focus - if they haven't forgotten how to implement it. The best option might be to plump for the draw, as Carlisle try to prevent themselves feeling like April Fools as well as March ones.

Recommended Bet
Back Yeovil and Carlisle to draw @ 3.55/2


Crewe 2.568/5 v Cambridge 3.211/5; the draw 3.39/4


Changing a style of play - according to halted opponents Stevenage last Saturday - perhaps didn't do Crewe any good after their 0-0 draw, because they then lost at Accrington in midweek. To be fair, Stanley have shot up the table and could leapfrog Cambridge who would have to lose at Crewe.

I think the U's might slip up, even if Accrington have a very tough ask to take three point at Plymouth.

Reasons to think the Railwaymen can win include that they have won four of their last five games and kept a clean sheet in each win, stress Opta. In the other game they contributed to helping Newport keep their survival chances alive, by losing 2-1.

Chris Dagnall and co have put that right since, netting seven goals in their next three games, Leyton Orient loanee Jordan Bowery, once of Aston Villa, also netting his first goals of the season (from 13 starts). The playoffs are now a bridge too far for Cambridge's patches of form and, for me, they have far too many recent zeros in the "goals scored" charts, failing to net in four of their most recent six games. 2.568/5 looks like a decent price to me.

Recommended Bet
Back Crewe @ 2.568/5

P/L 2016-17

+38.89pt

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