League Two Betting: Lay leaders Plymouth, Oxford and Northampton

Paul Sturrock's Yeovil are getting increasingly desperate to turn their season around but at least have been scoring goals
Paul Sturrock's Yeovil are getting increasingly desperate to turn their season around but at least have been scoring goals

Ever the contrarian opposed to short odds in this division, Ian Lamont says "Cobblers" to the short prices on League Two's top three teams, including opposing in-form Northampton, who host Yeovil after the relief of a takeover...


"Can leaders Plymouth go into a two-week break (enforced after an early FA Cup exit) with a lead at the top still in tact and their tails in the air with a victory at Dagenham? Positive replies are dented by the fact Reuben Reid, top scorer for the past two seasons, Peter Hartley and keeper Luke McCormack are unlikely to return for Saturday."

Hartlepool 6.05/1 v Oxford 1.748/11; the draw 4.03/1

Which chairman of these two sides said this week: "There's no reason we can't be a Championship club."

That's right, Gary Coxall of Hartlepool said that, to howls of derision - and that was just from the locals. Fan opinion forums are no place for angel hearted chairmen.

The cleaner version of supporters' responses was "Give us one reason to think we CAN be a Championship club." Charming! One fan wondered whether Coxall had actually been watching Ronnie Moore's men lately.

Optimism after four wins at the start of the season has long since evaporated, then, as another season of survival in League Two beckons, as done another potential banana skin in the form of next Friday's televised FA Cup trip to Salford City.

If there is any light in the tunnel at present, it is that loanees Jake Gray (Crystal Palace) Kal Naismith and Michael Mandron have all been secured until January.

Midfielder Gray scored twice in the 3-1 home win over Leyton Orient, while the hosts enjoyed a midweek rest (well, extra training) after their game against Accrington was postponed. Michael Duckworth would have played and Scott Harrison will now return having been unavailable with a sore knee.

But whether Pools can cope with the Patrick Hogan, who came on to equalise against Newport, and Oxford's forceful forward line including the highly rated Kemar Roofe, is another matter.

Michael Appleton's side look rather better equipped to make their own planned leap to the Championship, now within four years having started a five-year countdown a season or so ago. However, there's always a nagging doubt about backing teams in this division who are odds-on to win, so the price on the visitors has to be a lay.

However, it might be worth backing over 2.5 goals. Three of Oxford's last four league games have resulted in those types of scorelines while Hartlepool have only kept one clean sheet in 10 league games, so even if they do score and earn reward from the game it is likely their opponents will score, too. There seems value in the 2.111/10 available.

Recommended Bets:
Lay Oxford @ 1.728/11
Back over 2.5 goals @ 2.111/10


Dagenham 4.216/5 v Plymouth 2.01/1; the draw 3.613/5

You know things are going badly when, top of the league, your manager starts whinging that you haven't had a penalty all season. Two other clubs in League Two haven't either, by the way Derek Adams.

The Pilgrims' manager seems to think he is hard done by and so do fans who are still wondering why Jake Jervis was penalised when bearing down on goal against Leyton Orient and why their striker Jay Simpson wasn't sent off for a strong tackle.

Can they go into a two-week break (enforced after an early FA Cup exit) with a lead at the top still in tact and their tails in the air with a victory at Dagenham? Positive replies are dented by the fact Reuben Reid, top scorer for the past two seasons, Peter Hartley and keeper Luke McCormack are unlikely to return for Saturday.

Losing Oscar Thelkeld to the aforementioned crunching tackle doesn't help their injury list. The break might ease the injury list by the time they face Cambridge at Home Park on December 12.

November, with one win from four league and cup games, has been a month to forget for October manager of the month Adams.

Can Dagenham take any sort of advantage? Was the FA Cup replay win at Morecambe a 4-2 fluke? They defeated AFC Wimbledon as well on Tuesday. Is that enough. Jamie Cureton made the Dons pay for wasted chances (in double figures) with the only goal.

James Dunne believes they have confidence now after a first win in 12 - and a decent performance in the 1-0 defeat to Oxford - but he is yet to win at Victoria Road since his switch from Portsmouth. A first home win for Wayne Burnett's side might still be beyond them, but there is reason enough to believe that the Pilgrims are looking forward to the relief a break might bring and could drop further points. A lay is the way to play.

Recommended Bet:
Lay Plymouth @ 2.01/1


Northampton Town 1.645/8 v Yeovil Town 6.05/1; the draw 4.216/5

When does a team become deflated after a seismic event at a club? The last time Crystal Palace went into administration, they fell from certain play-off contenders in the Championship to just above the relegation zone and struggled badly for the rest of the season.
Going into administration takes the wind out of the best flying sales.

Northampton seem to have avoided that dive in fortunes, but only just as Kelvin Thomas, the former Oxford chairman, has completed a takeover.

Relief all round then, but no longer can the players draw on the "bunker" mentality that has produced (in league and cup) an unbeaten six wins and a draw since mid-October, a month in which the players went unpaid by the club.

Just when Cobblers fans think things are safe they could suffer a collective switch off, even just temporarily.

So can the Glovers jam the brakes on the Northampton steam train? Paul Sturrock admitted to selection "errors" for the defeat to Wycombe and it will take much more, long term, than one Tottenham 18-year-old defender (Christian Maghoma) taken on loan on deadline day to sort out their troubles.

He wants to make "the people around Yeovil smile again" and he'd make me - a cynic of circumstance - chuckle if he could halt Northampton's great run, especially if he could give the visitors a first win in 12. It won't take Chris Wilder's men to bounce back from any set back but Yeovil's two draws before Tuesday's defeat (and scoring twice in three league games running) does show some sort of spark as they make increasingly desperate attempts to turn their season around.

Recommended Bet:
Lay Northampton @ 1.645/8


*****


*You can read more League Two tips as well as Alan Dudman's thoughts on the week's League One action by visiting our dedicated English Football League section here on Betting.Betfair.


P/L 2015-16

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