…..by Alan Alger from Blue Square
A second home game within four days and a second chance for Fleetwood Town to secure the Blue Square Bet Premier title in front of their own fans at Highbury on Friday night.
The nation will also be tuning in on Premier Sports to witness their clash with Lincoln City. The Cod Army are strong odds-on favourites at 2/7 to claim the three points they need to get over the line in the title race.
Tuesday’s exciting game with Wrexham saw them face a real battle for 90 minutes so punters will have to take on trust that they have recovered to do their jobs against the Imps. Lincoln are not mathematically safe from relegation and boss David Holdsworth will be looking for a performance on a par with the 5-0 thrashing of Darlington on Easter Monday, rather than Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at Stockport which led to him reading the riot act – not for the first time this season.
The former Mansfield Town boss must have been delighted with the response but tonight’s task is illustrated by their price of 15/2. Even a point, which would delay any trophy presentation is priced as big as 4/1. This will be Lincoln’s last game against the 12 teams that will occupy the top half of the final league table.
Their record against those better teams leaves a lot to be desired. Just 16 points from a possible 69 in the 23 matches they’ve already played and only three wins. Just one of those away from home at Forest Green Rovers. Their overall record for the season includes just three other wins on the road.
Fleetwood are not immune from dropping points at home and the fantastic unbeaten run that they are now on is bookended by a shock 4-1 home defeat at the hands of struggling Newport County back in October of last year. The statistics show that Micky Mellon’s team are at their peak in the second half of matches. It’s hard to oppose a home win, but the best bet may come from speculating that nerves take hold and Lincoln manage to prolong parity until half-time. A ‘draw half-time / Fleetwood win full-time’ ‘Double Result’ bet could represent good value at 10/3.
The other eleven fixtures from this round of games take place on Saturday afternoon, at this stage of the season we’ll often see our fair share of meaningless games but with a thrilling play-off race in progress and a few teams not safe from relegation there’s plenty to play for in the majority of fixtures.
If Fleetwood secure the title on Friday night then it may be in the best interests of Wrexham, who cannot finish lower than second, to focus on the play-offs. That could mean getting some much needed rest into the legs of their relatively small squad. For that reason Grimsby Town look a good bet to win at the Racecourse at a nice price of 5/2. A win at Hayes & Yeading United would secure an extended season for Mansfield Town and they look very backable at 4/5 for their trip to Kingfield.
The home side have a four point gap to overcome to move out of the relegation zone so will still be in the bottom four even if they win this game at 3/1. York City meet Newport County in the middle of a Spring triple-header culminating in the FA Trophy final. County won the first league fixture a couple of weeks ago at Spytty Park and with the chasing pack closing in on the top five positions York need to win this one at 4/6. Whether they can be trusted at that price is a different matter after a number of odds-on failures and patchy form. Gary Mills team deserve a top five spot but will have to earn it in the next few weeks. Newport are 7/2 to complete a double over the Minstermen. Kidderminster Harriers occupy that precarious fifth place at the moment and will be hoping for victory under less nervy circumstances for their home game with Kettering Town. They will be odds-on to win the game, but have a number of late shows to thank for their lofty perch in the standings.
Southport are 11/10 favourites despite a tricky looking visit to Tamworth. The home side are entitled to expect a fourth consecutive season in non-League’s top-flight, with their safety all but assured. Their manager Marcus Law would not want them to take their foot of the gas though so they may appeal at 2/1, despite Southport’s need for points.
The Paul Buckle era at Luton Town started with a win over Hayes & Yeading United. The Hatters doing what was expected at a very short price, but also a chance for their new boss to see enough weakness in their defence to make it the theme of their training for the past few days.
They are 11/10 to win at Alfreton Town, who secured their safety in the division with games to spare, something that looked unlikely at the turn of the year. In fact, as stated in recent weeks, their form from January 1st onwards would put them just outside the play-offs if stretched over a whole season. They can certainly give Luton a game considering the freedom safety will bring to Nicky Law and his squad. A price of 2/1 illustrates their good chance and we are once again keen to take Luton on with a best price of 11/10. The winner of the match between Gateshead and Forest Green Rovers may still harbour hopes of the play-offs by 5pm on Saturday, but overall it looks unlikely for either club. Gateshead are the 5/4 favourites with home advantage.
Elsewhere, Cambridge United visit Barrow as the 11/8 favourites for an away win following the Bluebirds’ recent slump.
They did at least manage a point in their last game and more importantly ended their long goal drought. They may not have turned the corner sufficiently to appeal at 13/8 to beat the U’s though. AFC Telford United are in need of the points at Stonebridge Road where hosts Ebbsfleet United are already safe.
An away win is priced at 9/5. Stockport County were halted in their quest for four straight wins as Mansfield beat them 2-1 on Monday.
That defeat was no disgrace and reads well amongst their recent form, they could be a good bet to get an important three points at home to Braintree Town at a price of 11/10. With Darlington able to reach a maximum of 43 points, their survival hopes look grim, regardless of the outcome of their home game against already-relegated Bath City.
Alan’s Best Bets for Fleetwood Town v Lincoln City:
DRAW HALF-TIME / FLEETWOOD TOWN FULL-TIME – Half Time / Full Time Double Result
FLEETWOOD TOWN TO WIN 2-0 – Correct Score
SECOND HALF TO HAVE MOST GOALS – Half With Most Goals
Alan’s Best Weekend Treble:
GRIMSBY TOWN to win at Wrexham
MANSFIELD TOWN to win at Hayes & Yeading United
ALFRETON TOWN to beat Luton Town