Latics will fancy a point
Harrogate 1.910/11 v Oldham 4.216/5; the draw 4.47/2
Simon Weaver clearly thinks his charges have got ahead of themselves. He didn't like their performance in a 4-0 defeat at Newport, suggesting that the Sulphurites had let a great showing and lots of praise for their FA Cup defeat at Luton go to their heads.
In truth, Harrogate have been slipping. One win and a draw from six games gives them just a point more than their visitors on Saturday during the same period. The Latics have secured three draws, so might be considered to be ahead on fewer defeats! Anywhichway, Oldham and their still temporary manager Selim Benachour will fancy their chances of gaining a positive result at Wetherby Road. Even if it has to be nil-nil.
Christopher Missilou has returned to the club after a two-year absence to bolster the midfield. Alex Hunt, 21, on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, is excited by the relegation battle challenge and says it offers a great grounding for a young player out on loan.
Junior Luamba is raring to go again after scoring his first senior goal in August and then suffering a knee injury in a game soon after.
Left-back Benny Couto, born in Portugal, is apparently on the radar of Premier League clubs and top level ones abroad, including in his home country. And fans are delighted that their owner has indicated his willingness to sell.
Whether that optimism can add up to a great performance is the question. The Latics have drawn their last two away, at Hartlepool and Barrow. Harrogate have not scored in their past two games, and have lost their last four.
Defender Leon Legge must have wondered what he had done, switching from Port Vale as Connor Hall went the other way.
Weaver says 20-year-old Lewis Richards, a left-sided defender, in on loan from Wolves, is "exactly what we need" to make the "unit" stronger. After several comings and goings in recent weeks, they will be happy to defy Opta, who point out that all three matches in the Football League between the sides have been won by the away team - and that Oldham haven't had three straight goalless draws since 2001. A draw might well ensue, at a very healthy price.
In-form Stags too big a price
Barrow 2.915/8 v Mansfield 2.767/4; the draw 3.55/2
Occasionally there are odds offered that just seem a misnomer. The prices for this match are a case in point. Opta will make the points for me. Barrow are looking for their first set of two wins in a row since October (the second one happened to be against Mansfield in the reverse fixture).
Meanwhile, the stats compilers add that Mansfield have won six straight games played on Saturdays, a run last matched in 1986 and only bettered as far back as 1962. On top of that, look at their last 10 games. They have won nine (losing at Sutton), scoring 20 times.
Nigel Clough's men have scored at least twice in eight of their wins and are up against a side which has made their manager Mark Cooper's expression every dourer. In their past 10 games, the Bluebirds have failed to score six times, won twice and drawn twice. You've guessed it, nil-nil both times.
The Stags might have conceded 10 in their 10-game recent spell but it's hard to see Barrow's Josh Gordon or Ollie Banks combining to outscore any number of options you could pick from Mansfield. Harry Charsley added to his manager's delight at the talent he has before him with a double to defeat Walsall.
Rhys Oates, Jordan Bowery, George Maris, Stephen McLaughlin, Ollie Clarke: they all have more than one in the Stags' recent run. It's just that none of them have more than five goals each. So there's a lack of a focal point perhaps - one player to look to for goals - but for oppositions that's a total nightmare. Goals could come from anywhere. The price on an away win seems an anomaly for a side on the march.
Crawley need to show metal against Rovers
Crawley 3.211/5 v Tranmere 2.68/5; the draw 3.55/2
If they keep playing as they are, Crawley Town could make the play-offs. Assistant boss Lee Bradbury said it after drawing at Carlisle. Striker Tom Nichols said it before the match last week. I'm pretty sure I said it in my pre-season column! The Reds are 6.05/1 in the promotion market and 4.216/5 to finish in the top seven.
Of course, everyone talks themselves up. But striker Nichols, who feels he is approaching his peak, points out that the Sussex team have come through a period of injuries and Covid and started to flourish.
An away draw last weekend would have been a disappointment having led from Ashley Nadesan's 25th minute strike until well into stoppage time. And it was against the grain of some impressive away wins by a single goal margin. The chance had been there. Nadesan missed a penalty.
While defeat at resurgent Stevenage on Tuesday should merely have refuelled the appetite for another good run, tackling Tranmere, who have earned 22 points from a possible last 24, will be an entirely different matter. Opta point out the visitors are unbeaten in nine, last enjoying a longer run (13) in October 2012.
The sale of defender Tom Dallison by the Reds doesn't seem to have hindered the recovery of John Yems' side from a six-game run of losses in late autumn. Fans will hope Yems has struck another gem with Caleb Watts, 19, an attacker, on loan from Southampton.
Rovers head south with an away draws record that will give their hosts hope of another - and that would be a good result for the Sussex side.
Micky Mellon's men have six away draws, including most recently at Salford. Two recent away wins have been at the varying strengths of Oldham and Exeter, both 1-0. Can Crawley defenders James Tilley and Joel Lynch, the latter having signed an 18-month extension to his deal in January, resist the confidence of Charlie Jolley, who has three goals in his last three games?
The visitors have not been renowned for scoring in huge quantities this season - and then suddenly posted four past Scunthorpe. Josh McPake, on loan from Rangers and back in this division after last season's spell at Harrogate, has shown his quality on the wing already. Tranmere's last six wins, from their last seven games, have been to nil. Only Salford have breached their defences. Crawley must convert a chance if they are to show their promotion credentials are serious, but it is likely to ensure they secure only a draw.
Yems can't allow to happen what Opta hint at: A league double for Tranmere against Crawley for the first time since 2012-13. Crawley have won their last three against Tranmere, but the honours here should be shared.
Cobblers could struggle to match Sutton goals
Sutton 2.77/4 Northampton 3.02/1; the draw 3.39/4
Boss Jon Brady was glad the Cobblers were able to get over their Covid "hangover" with a 1-1 draw at Forest Green. Even if they have subsequently received an apology from the head of referees for the "ghost" goal they shouldn't have conceded.
Northampton didn't play between December 11 and January 1, when they lost 5-2 at Swindon. Against Rovers they started without a recognised striker. Danny Rose was left on the bench. A four-pronged push from Dylan Connolly, Sam Hoskins, Mitch Pinnock and Paul Lewis ran the attacking lines, to great effect at times. That all might have been a response to losing 1-0 at home to Crawley.
Those reverses - and conceding at least once in their past five games - have pushed the fourth placed visitors' price out for this game.
Sutton perhaps are not given enough respect for their lofty position, one place above them. Maybe the layers are predicting that, in their first EFL season, they could come down with the Christmas decorations.
However, they could well be a lot shorter if the sole consideration was their five straight wins at home, including against teams with promotion ambitions, Mansfield and Exeter. A goal difference of 9-4 on that run suggests Matt Gray's side have great strengths. Indeed, they came from behind twice against Colchester on Tuesday, to win by taking the lead for the first time in injury time.
In their past three games they have scored in the 89th minute or later, gaining five points. Isaac Olaofe, Robert Milsom, Donovan Wilson and Will Randall have been enjoying themselves in front of goals recently. The visitors have conceded in their past five away games, which means they are likely to have to score twice to gain anything, given Sutton's strong run at home. Therefore I rather envisage a home win.