League Two Tips: Back a stalemate for Scholes' Salford

Paul Scholes, the interim Salford City manager
Paul Scholes will rekindle his short managerial career on the ground his football began for Manchester United 26 years ago

The Manchester United legend could help the Ammies to draw, says Ian Lamont, who tips up a Harrogate win in the battle of the promoted sides while also backing goals at Walsall...

"Derek Adams has worked wonders with Morecambe, finding a system in which Cole Stockton - who scored his first of the season - is the sole striker. He has inspired Aaron Wildig into fine form, creating chances and also scoring twice."

Valiants need to step up to hold Ammies

Port Vale 7/42.74 v Salford 15/82.9; the draw 12/53.4

Reports suggest that Graham Alexander was sacked by Salford partly because of a disagreement over the "style" of football. Well, watching the highlights from their draw with Tranmere, their goals by Richard Towell and James Wilson looked pretty stylish to me!

When the first managerial casualty of the League Two season comes after five unbeaten games with the team in the top five, one suspects a hidden agenda.

He had a blast at the team afterwards for conceding two late goals - thus ending with a draw not a win. Did that unnerve them or the board?

The Ammies are on their best run in the Football League (it's only their second season) point out Opta, who highlight an unbeaten run of seven matches.

They have strengths at the back in the form of Vaclav Hladky, whom they have had to overly rely on at times such as in the home draw with Forest Green. They have experienced strength up front, of course, in Ian Henderson.

Oddly enough, they are winning away, but drawing at home. It would be quite a feat to keep that up at Port Vale, however, despite the Valiants' dip in form. Opta point out that after 11 games unbeaten, they have lost the last two.

Paul Scholes, apparently keeping Salford's managerial seat warm for Warren Joyce, the development manager who is isolating, would love a win on the ground where, 26 years ago, he started his playing career in a League Cup win for Manchester United. He has just a handful of games experience as a manager, at Oldham in this division.

However, John Askey's side are more resilient than a year ago - and have the ambition to gain promotion, as do the visitors. Tom Pope should have netted for them in their defeat at injury-ravaged Carlisle, in which Cristian Montano and Devante Rodney had chances.

Home fans are already worrying that the season could be getting away from them. The hosts will have to raise their game a little, but with the 35% draw rate in the division it is worth backing another stalemate here.

Confident Harrogate on a roll

Harrogate 11/102.1 v Barrow 16/54.2; the draw 13/53.6

Of the two sides promoted to the Football League this summer, Harrogate seem in by far the better place. They haven't won at home yet this season, something they will be eager to put right. However, on Monday they took a huge scalp, defeating Bradford City at Valley Parade.

Manager Simon Weaver described it as one of the best results in their history. He also revealed how he had to hold back the enthusiasm of his side at half-time. They were eager with ideas and he had to tell them to use their 15 minutes of rest wisely.

Jack Muldoon, feted as their main forward, worked a wide position to create the killer chance for Lloyd Kerry on Monday. Jon Stead, a seasoned campaigner at this level, also had his chances.

But the plaudits received by many of the team after the victory show a team buzzing after their August climb from non-league, via the play-offs. They had only notched one League Two win in their previous four matches, but that was 4-0 - on the opening day at Southend. Three clean sheets out of five add to their credentials.

Barrow have not kept one yet. They have drawn 1-1 three times, plus lost at Newport (2-1) and Carlisle (1-0). Opta point to their results pattern of DLDLD with all three draws at home. Scott Quigley, now available after suspension, had yet to reproduce his non-league masterclasses up front. Boss David Dunn, who says the team needs to be more ruthless, has recently recruited former Oldham and Blackburn midfielder Jason Taylor, 33, for experience and Courtney Baker-Richardson, formerly of Swansea, up front. It could be a tough afternoon for the visitors.

Saddlers and Grecians in the scoring zone

Walsall 9/52.8 v Exeter 9/52.8; the draw 5/23.5

Getting a "Randall" on progress at Exeter hasn't been easy this season. The start to the campaign was slow for last season's beaten play-off semi-finalists. Their results continue to be inconsistent.

Boss Matt Taylor reflected they "need to be better" after securing a last-minute draw at Southend. It sounded like an understatement. While talk about the club can easily focus on former players now doing well, such as Ethan Ampidu and Ollie Watkins, others from the same academy are emerging.

Alex Randall has made his presence felt this season, scoring three times in League Two matches. Randell Williams, meanwhile, turned down a move to Peterborough in September, deeming it not right for him. Maybe he wants to finish what he started with the Grecians: namely get them promotion.

One huge positive that can be said for the visitors is that in four of their five league outings they have scored twice (the other, drawing a blank) and have done so in all three away games. They have also conceded twice on three occasions, meaning 15 goals have featured in their five games.

Walsall have had 12 goals in their five games. If you combine those averages, it suggests over 2.5 goals could just be the bet here, at 6/52.2.

Boss Darrell Clarke has been "hands on" with the strikers Elijah Adebayo, Josh Gordon and Caolan Lavery (they have all scored), after the departure of a forwards coach. Justifiably, he added that he had to fulfil all jobs as Salisbury manager.

The unbeaten Saddlers are looking to push towards the promotion places this season, he says. He has previous, having taken Bristol Rovers upwards out of this division. The team had to come from behind to beat Leyton Orient and if they fall behind again it will just increase the chances of three goals or more.

Cole's stock rising as main frontman

Crawley 11/82.34 Morecambe 5/23.5; the draw 12/53.4

While many managers defend their players to the hilt when things are going wrong, John Yems was honest in his assessment a few weeks ago. Crawley simply were not good enough at Port Vale. It was only the second game of the season, against one of the fancied sides, and a key striker had just exited the club.

Since then, Tom Nichols, formerly of Exeter, has joined the club. And in midweek against Arsenal U21s Max Watters, who had been training with the club, scored and gave the manager something to think about. Ashley Nadeson, in determined fashion, continues his progress having scored twice in the past few weeks. The squad does have strong, experienced players such as George Francomb.

In my opinion, they cannot, however, expect to compete at present with high flyers such as Cheltenham, where they lost last weekend.

Quite what bracket Morecambe will be in come the end of the season is a mystery. Usually flailing around the bottom by March, they top League Two after a string of fine performances (bar the 5-0 mauling at home to Cambridge).

Derek Adams has worked wonders, finding a system in which Cole Stockton - who scored his first of the season - is the sole striker. He has inspired Aaron Wildig into fine form, creating chances and also scoring twice.

A fourth straight win would match a run most recently achieved in August 2016, say Opta. However, Crawley, they add, have an 11-game unbeaten streak at the Broadfield, stretching back well into last season. They will not want to give this up easily and so a draw could be the answer.

P/L 2020-21


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