Port Vale 2.8815/8 v MK Dons 2.245/4, the draw 3.412/5
If you are a backer of the MK Dons for Saturday's FA Cup first round encounter, you must be aware that manager Karl Robinson has hinted at making potentially six changes. Two are forced, as Antony Kay and Darren Potter face one match suspensions, but more concerning would be the fact that teenage sensation Dele Alli will almost certainly be rested. The 18-year-old has been their best player recently, so I'm not sure I want to be a backer at 2.245/4.
Perhaps it's a sign of the times that several League One clubs will be fielding a starting line-up that has been altered with the view to resting players this weekend. Although in Alli's case, he has featured in all bar one of the Dons' matches so far, although fans might put two and two together as the teenager has again been linked with Liverpool this week.
Because the Buckinghamshire club have enjoyed one big pay day already thanks to the 4-0 beating of Manchester United in the League Cup, this won't seem such a priority perhaps? Whereas Port Vale are not an outfit blessed in the finance department, but they have hit form at just the right time, which makes this interesting.
Under new boss Robert Page, the Valiants have collected ten points from a possible 12 on home soil and the former Welsh international defender has certainly improved the squad's ability since Micky Adams left. Page will hope Newcastle allow Remie Streete to feature, as he played well on Saturday in his first start for the club. They will however be missing the physical presence of Tom Pope (who remains sidelined until January), but Dany N'Guessan has good strength, and he can certainly cause the away side problems here.
I just cannot see the odds on the visitors as appealing in any sort of way and it's certainly a laying price considering Vale's in-form streak.
Lay MK Dons to win @ 2.245/4
Walsall 2.021/1 v Shrewsbury Town 3.45, the draw 3.45
Welcome back to the column to my old nemesis Walsall, it's only been about five days since you were last here. They again outplayed their form and odds to end Notts County's remarkable run of five straight wins last Saturday, but that's typical of Dean Smith's side.
With back-to-back successes, they have now moved up to sixteenth in the League, and former Shrews striker Tom Bradshaw has hit seven this season, and for such a low-scoring side as the midlanders, that's not a bad return.
Again, I'm not entirely sure I want to back the hosts at evens, especially given that they haven't reached the third round of the FA Cup in eight years.
Shrewsbury gained a lot of media exposure following their 1-2 Capital One Cup defeat against Chelsea recently, although seemingly not enough coverage in the TV or newspapers as Blues midfielder Eden Hazard called them 'Strawberry Town'. In fact, whilst we're on the fruit theme, hasn't manager Micky Mellon done a good job after their struggles last year? Town are third in League Two, and this is certainly a 'banana skin' tie for their opponents.
Salop have been inconsistent on the road this season, winning two and losing four, and we know of the promoted teams from League Two in recent times that the gap has shortened considerably.
I'm aware that reading the Chelsea game literally is dangerous, as teams in this tier cannot maintain that level on a consistent basis, but if they can match that sort of intensity for Saturday, it might be worth taking the odds on the visitors.
Back Shrewsbury to win @ 3.45
Oldham Athletic 1.981/1 v Leyton Orient 3.052/1, the draw 3.45
What an earth has happened to Leyton Orient? Having been pitched in as one of the ante-post favourites, the Londoners are in somewhat of a muddle currently. New manager Mauro Milanese is the third man at the helm in as many months, following Russell Slade's departure to Cardiff and then Kevin Nugent's career transition of assistant boss to manager and back to assistant boss (with an interim title thrown in there too).
Backing the O's at home this term would have left backers short so far, as they haven't won since last April in the league. Away from Brisbane Road however they have been much brighter, although their 13 game unbeaten record on their travels was ended at Port Vale recently (just as Orient were tipped in this column to win).
Indeed the O's have inflicted the only home defeat of the season against Oldham, although that came in August and since then the Latics have won five times at Boundary Park (excuse me for using the old name). In fact, manager Lee Johnson is working a bit of magic in the north west, and they now sit in ninth position with 25 points.
The hosts do play some good football and are decent at set-pieces so their price is about right considering Orient are far better on their travels. Both have enjoyed cup runs in this competition in recent seasons, and it might be worth using this game to trade the draw.
Back the draw @ 3.45
Gillingham 3.02/1 v Bristol City 1.855/6, the draw 3.4012/5
Like the MK Dons earlier, it appears Bristol City will be making a few changes to their starting line-up this weekend. Promotion is the number one priority for the Robins, and as they sit top of League One with 36 points, an FA Cup run might be an unwanted distraction. This does seem a sorry state of affairs, but increasingly like the League cup, managers just don't want the extra games.
City boss Steve Cotterill will need to rotate anyway as some of his players have featured in every match this season, and this could be seen as a weekend to give them a rest. I'm not sure Gillingham quite have that luxury and they need a pick-me-up.
The Kent side look in trouble, and manager Peter Taylor gave a somewhat fiery series of responses to the local reporter following last Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Fleetwood. The questions seemed perfectly reasonable, with Taylor resorting to monosyllabic responses. Times are worrying, as the Gills are without a win in eight games and have slipped into the bottom four.
Gillingham also had no luck last year, they exited in round one after defeat to Brackley Town and they look in desperate need of something to lift their spirits.
I do worry about the goals, as the hosts have netted only five times from their last 11 games, whereas Bristol City are an attacking, physical team that are averaging two goals per match this season. In fact, the Robins have failed to find the net once in 12 matches so the pressure will be on Gillingham to keep a clean sheet.
However, backing an away side at 4/6 with a potential weakened team doesn't excite me, and I'd rather lay that price.
Lay Bristol City to win @ 1.855/6
FC Halifax Town 3.02/1 v Bradford City 1.814/5, the draw 3.55/2
Live on BT Sport 1, Sunday 12:00
Once again we have a League One side at odds-on away from home, but Bradford are in wretched form with four defeats from their last five and just one victory in nine.
This game has been picked for not only being a west Yorkshire derby, but a chance of a cup upset for the Shaymen, who disappeared from the Football League as Halifax, and have since added the FC at the start. This will be a difficult test at the Shay for City.
Halifax are doing well in the Conference Premier, and beat Chorley 5-0 in the qualifying round to earn a crack at League One opposition. Their home form is strong, scoring 21 goals in six matches and losing just once, although Bradford's diamond system was working well earlier in the campaign on their travels, but their form has dipped. And for that reason, City look ripe for laying at that price.
Lay Bradford City @ 1.814/5
Ian Lamont has previewed the FA Cup ties involving League Two sides