League Two Tips: Robins to flutter past Bantams

Micky Mellon, the Tranmere Rovers manager
Micky Mellon has instilled confidence in his players at Tranmere Rovers

Swindon are a big price to improve their home price against Bradford, says Ian Lamont, who sides with Tranmere and senses goals at Hartlepool...

"After a tricky summer behind the scenes for Swindon, Harry McKirdy, Ben Gladwin, Tyreece Simpson and others now have to battle for a starting place. The team knows, having conceded just six at home, that they have a strong footing on which to build."

About time Garner's men got going at home

Swindon 2.447/5 v Bradford 3.39/4; the draw 3.412/5

One Swindon fan's reaction to the Robins winning at Sutton was to reflect that the Wiltshire club will be a real force when their home form kicks in - and that it surely will. A real battering for an opponent is in store, the supporter suggested.

Ben Garner's men have only won once at the County Ground (Opta make that one home win in seven), which makes a rise to third place even more remarkable. At least, it would if they were not in a division dominated by so many draws that stringing a few wins together will shoot you up the table.

Having Jonny Williams back after international duty with Wales doubtless helped, not least because he has scored in consecutive games. However, one of those emphasises the point: Swindon have three draws at home, from six games. And only five goals. Yet they are second top scorers away from home (13) so there's no reason why a glut of players who can score, and whom the manager is happy to rotate, can't boost home fortunes.

After a tricky summer behind the scenes for the club, Harry McKirdy, Ben Gladwin, Tyreece Simpson and others now have to battle for a starting place. The team knows, having conceded just six at home, that they have a strong footing on which to build.

Bradford, meanwhile, are still adapting to Derek Adams, it seems, who said they must learn to do the basics better after their midweek defeat at home to Hartlepool (who previously had no points on the road).

Fans' reaction was not kind. The "biggest no show of the season" by City, said one, after their first home loss this season. A Pools goal after a minute seems to have totally thrown them.

One win in 10 is not what supporters demand - or in fact something Adams will tolerate having left promoted Morecambe for this project. Andy Cook will net goals if given the right supply (he has six already this season) but the Bantams need to find ways of coaxing goals from others apart from Charles Vernam (3). Bradford have just one win away (Opta say one win in nine league games), which adds to the feeling that the price on the home win seems very generous in the circumstances.

Micky's methods have Tranmere feeling mellow

Tranmere 2.56/4 v Northampton 3.412/5; the draw 3.211/5

Feeling secure in your work is always a recipe for success. Tranmere midfielder Sam Foley says manager Micky Mellon's settled tactics have played a real part in their success of late. Not conceding many goals is also a pretty solid foundation.

Allowing Harrogate to score twice on Tuesday must have felt like a shock to the system, being the first time they had conceded once in a game this season! That's quite an astonishing record for 12 games. As is seven clean sheets.

On the downside, they do need the attackers to start outsourcing top scorer Peter Clarke, a defender. But hopefully goals by Jay Spearing - albeit a penalty - and Kieron Morris on Tuesday will motivate the front line.

On the positive side, they have scored twice in four of their past five (and once in the other), meaning that in-form Northampton face a huge challenge even to match them, let alone win.

The Cobblers have six clean sheets themselves, and eight goals in five games, even pausing to draw a blank at home to Sutton. On the plus side, the strikers have some goals. Sam Hoskins has three and Tottenham loanee Kion Etete has a huge sense of relief now he has netted his first senior goal. That came in the mauling of Stevenage on Tuesday. But Tranmere will be far stiffer opposition and I fancy them to find the one goal that should settle this tight match. Northampton are chasing a third straight win for the first time since January 2020, say Opta. I think they will have to wait to out-do that statistic.

Orient have solid platform for victory

Stevenage 3.39/4 v Leyton Orient 2.568/5; the draw 3.55/2

Leyton Orient boss Kenny Jackett wants his side to be more cohesive going forward; to work the ball better and to make the most of their openings. Assistant boss Joe Gallen even felt they could have won against leaders Forest Green on Tuesday when Ruel Sotiriou netted his second League Two goal of the season. Fellow striker Harry Smith has scored four of his six away.

It's a shame the O's lost Danny Johnson to Mansfield in the summer because I feel they could really have kicked on with his goal tally and Jackett's experience in the dugout.

Four draws in five games hasn't helped them rise up the table in the way their supporters would have hoped. The east Londoners have four away draws this season and therefore a solid base of only having been beaten twice this campaign.

Stevenage have slipped after a good start and will be smarting from a 3-0 midweek reverse at Northampton. Another 'local derby' type game will lift the crowd and they hope will inspire Elliott List and Jamie Reid into scoring form once more. Opta emphasise they have won just once in 11 games.

Costly mistakes have to stop, says a frustrated Alex Revell. Of course they do. But saying that the players have to take responsibility after crossing the white line indicates either they don't know how or aren't quite good enough. The last two performances haven't been what supporters deserve, he says.

Not easily beaten at home (three draws and two wins, one defeat) Boro seem to lack confidence in their abilities at present. Conceding an average of twice per game in the past six won't help either. Orient can push for victory.

H-expect a goal-den afternoon

Hartlepool 2.9215/8 v Harrogate 2.8415/8; the draw 3.39/4

A cursory glance at Harrogate's results, lineups and league table statistics would indicate they have plenty of goals in the team. What's not to like about a +9 goal difference, averaging a 1.5-1 scoreline away and 2-1.5 away. That's a basis for a goals based bet.

It will be just my luck that they throw in a goalless draw as they did at home to Stevenage a month ago! However, I think that unlikely with Hartlepool's strong home record and now further confidence having taken their first away win in midweek, at the mighty but fallen Bradford.

Simon Weaver's men will fear no-one. And nor should they with Luke Armstrong striking eight goals already this season, alongside Jack Muldoon's six plus five by midfielder Alex Pattison.

The manager was delighted to see the Sulphurites prove themselves as good as Tranmere in their "biggest test yet", earning a 2-2 draw. It's true that they haven't faced many of the current high-flyers yet, notably fellow top three dwellers Forest Green and Swindon.

Dave Challinor's hosts are to be hugely respected. They have had a fine start to the season, especially at home where they have five wins and a draw.

Mark Cullen scored twice on Tuesday at Bradford, on his first start this season. The former Blackpool striker's presence really could rally them to higher levels. They often name five defenders, which might be the reason they have only conceded three times at Victoria Park. On Tuesday, Luke Hendrie slotted in for the first time at centre-back and looked comfortable.

At home, Pools have conceded to Carlisle, Exeter and Northampton, two of whom are flying high. It will take some quality to break them down but I think Harrogate have that going forward and expect over 2.5 goals at 2.35/4.

P/L 2021-22


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