League Two Tips: Robins can clip leaders' wings

Matt Taylor, the Exeter City manager,
Matt Taylor, the Exeter manager, will be aware what happened to another long serving manager last week

Laying leaders Forest Green is the plan this weekend says Ian Lamont, who tips Exeter to have success at Stevenage...

"Harry Kite and Pierce Sweeney were two to be substituted at half-time, Exeter manager Matt Taylor saying it could have been several others. Nombe seemed the only one to come out with any praise, especially from within the attacking department."

Forest Green short enough to lay

Kick-off 12 noon, live on Sky Sports
Forest Green Rovers 1.865/6 v Swindon Town 5.59/2; the draw 3.814/5

You won't get rich backing favourites, a horse racing trainer once told me. Not that he was allowed to bet. Or that his horses were ever favourite for a race! But he was right: this is why I refuse to countenance tipping sides under evens to win. And precisely why I'm taking on Forest Green this Saturday by playing the "betfair way" and laying them.

Leaders will drop points and when better than on TV against their nearest and dearest? Well, almost. I could take the draw, given that Forest Green have taken clean sheets in their past five games as Opta are keen to point out. However, the lay covers the away win. The stats men add that Swindon haven't lost in six away games, winning four. A seventh would be a best run since March 2013.

For all their scoring prowess in the shapes of Nicky Cadden, Jamille Matt and Matt Stevens, Rob Edwards' side have popped out two goalless draws this season, at Exeter and against Tranmere at the New Lawn.

It would not surprise me at all if Swindon, with little pressure on them yet, can contain them and gain a fifth clean sheet of the season themselves. I say little pressure, because in the summer the Robins had just nine players registered at one point, fought off a background of ownership issues and employed a young, ambitious but largely untried manager to sort it all out.

Ben Garner has done an excellent job so far, lifting the visitors to fifth. A tilt at the top of the table team is a free hit in an upwardly mobile curve. I'm glad I hold a pre-season ticket on them to be promoted. Even if Jack Payne, Tyreece Simpson or Ben Gladwin can't find too many chances, Swindon could just hold their hosts at bay sufficiently for a lay on Forest Green to be profitable.

Exeter should have Stevenage's Nomber

Stevenage 2.962/1 v Exeter 2.77/4; the draw 3.39/4

Grecians boss Matt Taylor said a few weeks ago that when Sam Nombe started scoring there would be no stopping him. Now he has three in as many matches.

Exeter are keeping their noses above water in the play-off zone, but Taylor has demanded that some players give him a "performance". Too many under performed as Walsall came back twice to take a draw last weekend.

Harry Kite and Pierce Sweeney were two to be substituted at half-time, the manager saying it could have been several others. Nombe seemed the only one to come out with any praise, especially from within the attacking department.

Two draws after three straight wins without conceding is not what Taylor needs. Last week, he saw what happened with underperformance when Michael Flynn left Newport after 4.5 years. Taylor is one of the division's longest serving managers and Exeter have to decide whether they are a club who develops players to sell on or really take that promotion shot.

Midfielder Tim Dieng and Matt Jay have also netted this season, to boost the chances of victory at Stevenage, the sort of side they ought to beat to underline their credentials this season.

Unbeaten in four away, they only have one win on their travels this season. Boro haven't kicked on in the way Alex Revell might have hoped after a strong finish to last season and a mid-table finish. Just one defeat at Broadhall Way this season though indicates some resilience.

Elliott List has shown some prowess in front of goal with three strikes. Jamie Reid says he "knows the goals will come" after his first for Stevenage. However, Exeter must get their defence in order again and crack on to push for those automatic promotion places. They simply don't want the play-offs yet again. Opta give us a clue to their upward trajectory: Stevenage won their first game in seven against Hartlepool, while Exeter haven't lost in eight, the longest such run in the division (and have one loss in 16).

Goals should abound at Barrow

AFC Barrow 2.546/4 v Leyton Orient 3.211/5; the draw 3.412/5

With Barrow's goal difference 14-11 and Leyton Orient's 17-10 in 10 games apiece this season, is it worth believing that both teams can at least score - giving rise to a wager on over 2.5 goals. Opta add to that sense by saying that Orient have conceded in each of their last nine away games. They further reveal that Barrow hold the unwanted record of most points dropped from winning positions (8) in League Two this season.

Both teams have a smattering of blanks and clean sheets, but both have ambition and a sense of an upward trajectory that should make them both want to attack and stride for victory.

Kenny Jackett will be devastated that his side slipped out of the top three, replaced by Port Vale who beat them with two goals in injury time last Saturday.

After fighting back to level and taking the lead, the positive is that Tom James scored his second goal of the season from right back. If only Theo Archibald or Harry Smith could have added to their season's tally, they might have had a bigger lead.

If the O's score at all, it seems rare that they score only once (away at Salford and at Carlisle). While those early season draws on their travels must have seemed like good ones, Salford have not proven the pre-season favourites they were mooted to be. Port Vale away was a proper indication of how the London side have improved. This is another test in that bracket, with the Bluebirds lifting themselves into seventh courtesy of a 1-0 win at Mansfield.

Ollie Banks notched the penalty against the out-of-form Stags. Mark Cooper's men have only failed to score in two matches this season. Josh Kay and Josh Gordon are leading the way with goals. Ozzy Zanzala rediscovered his scoring boots in the midweek cup game and while this could well end up in a draw (Barrow have two away and Orient three away), I'll be hedging with the over 2.5 goals play at 2.35/4, just like I did last week on the O's.

Stirring Exiles can hold Bantams

Newport 2.829/5 v Bradford 2.89/5; the draw 3.55/2

Amazingly, Michael Flynn's exit as Newport boss this time last week spurred the Exiles into action that could have saved his job. Scunthorpe might not be the toughest prey at present, but Newport still had to pull off a result.

Dom Telford scored his second of the season in a 3-0 win and Opta point out that the south Wales side have a League Two high 11 different goalscorers this season.

The hosts have won one, drawn two and lost once in a belated start to their home campaign so will be eager to make up for lost time.

Bradford, say Opta, have lost nine of their last 13 away, losing in batches of three at a time. They recently completed such a sequence at Crawley, so can be expected to gain a positive result here.

Bradford won't be contained easily. Andy Cook has five goals already and boss Derek Adams makes it quite clear he wants promotion. Defeat with a last minute penalty at Rodney Parade last March still rankles with Levi Sutton and others. The midfielder said "we owe them one" but this could turn out to be a draw.

P/L 2021-22


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