With Sunday's game between Oxford United and Coventry City televised on Sky, Alan Dudman thinks the hosts are the solid bet to take the honours......
"Karl Robinson's side might be getting over some of their nerves and fragility - and the Sunderland result will go a long way to boosting confidence and belief."
Saddlers very tempting at huge odds for Oakwell trip
Barnsley v Walsall
The last time I backed and tipped a team at 7/1 for the column was probably Crewe a few years' ago. They would be written off in so many games back then, but occasionally they would pop up at a silly price.
We have one of these on Saturday, and I am going in with Walsall at [7.0] for the Draw No Bet . They are better than that.
Any team in a league match priced as such is considered a no-hoper. But Walsall have the same record as Barnsley this term with four wins and two draws. In fact, had the Saddlers beaten Blackpool last weekend, a win would have seen Dean Keates's side make their best-ever start to a season. They drew 0-0 and it wasn't to be. Maybe the fixtures caught up with them, but they can get back on track.
Make no mistake, Walsall are a good team and are much-improved under Keates. The defence is playing higher up the pitch these days as they have more pace, and they are certainly more aggressive in terms of their attacking play.
Of course, Barnsley could win this, but quite a few backers probably said that before the Wimbledon game this season at Oakwell - and that finished 0-0. Even Sunderland struggled with a 1-1 draw last weekend against Oxford.
The Tykes have faced Oxford, Gillingham and the Dons this season at home. My thinking here is that Walsall will be the best team they will play in that mini-run. It might be a wild price, but the visitors are a handy team that shouldn't be 7/1 chances.
Pompey the solid option at fair odds
Portsmouth v Shrewsbury Town
I was surprised Pompey were available to back at [2.0] on Thursday evening. That's a fair price for a team that have got off to a flyer this season and have won all three games at Fratton Park with 1-0, 4-1 and 3-0 scorelines.
They were rather emphatic last Saturday against Plymouth - a victory that leaves Kenny Jackett's side joint-top alongside Peterborough with 16 points.
The same cannot be said for Shrewsbury - who are playing a bit better than their league record suggests. New manager John Askey is still seeking his first victory in the division, and he has suggested he might tweak his forward line in the hope of turning some encouraging displays into three points.
However, Askey will know that Pompey are a formidable side at Fratton Park and they defend well. Jackett is known for his tactical acumen and disciplined training ground drills. That is now paying off as Pompey are seven unbeaten in the league with four clean sheets.
The hosts will have to do without the brilliant Ronan Curtis. The 22-year-old has been the standout performer so far with five goals and three assists, but he's away on international duty. It's a blow, but there's plenty of experience in the side to overcome Shrewsbury.
I predict a fairly tight game with 1-0 and 2-0 scorelines preferred.
Robinson's men to continue recent improvement
Oxford United v Coventry City
Live On Sky Sports Football
As live games go; this probably isn't the best advert for League One. Neither side are in form with nine points collected combined, and the prices reflect that. Oxford are [2.52], Coventry [3.0], and the draw can be backed at [3.35].
It's a difficult game to call and a case can be made for all three, but I am struggling to get my confidence behind a Coventry side that have scored just once in three games on the road.
Based on the Opta stats, you wouldn't go anywhere near the visitors this weekend. In each of their last three trips to Oxford they have lost all three, failing to score in two.
Maybe if the hosts were around [2.10] I would leave them alone, especially as I have been far from convinced about United this season. However, they have had a tough start and a bit of bad luck with injuries, and they are starting to pick up a little.
They gained their first win recently against Burton (3-1), and produced a marvellous display at promotion favourites Sunderland last Saturday with a 1-1 draw. I was pleased to see West Ham loanee Marcus Browne play well. Mind you, as a Hammers fan, get him in the starting eleven at the London Stadium!
Karl Robinson's side might be getting over some of their nerves and fragility - and the Sunderland result will go a long way to boosting confidence and belief. They look more of a goal threat than Coventry here, so for that reason I am happy to take the [2.52] price.
Alan Dudman's P&L, 2018/19
League One: -0.34
League One regular season 2017/18: +18.48
Back Walsall Draw No Bet v Barnsley 0.5pt @ [7.0]
Back Portsmouth to beat Shrewsbury Town 0.5pt @ [2.0]
Back Oxford United to beat Coventry City 0.5pt @ [2.52]