BLUE SQUARE BET PREMIER LIVE MATCH & WEEKEND BETTING PREVIEW
Thursday Mar 29, 2012
BY ALAN ALGER OF BLUE SQUARE
THE Premier Sports cameras are at Kenilworth Road on Friday night for the all-important play-off clash between Luton Town and York City.
The clubs could not be closer in the table with identical P-W-D-L records separated by York's superior goal-difference. That puts The Minstermen fifth in the table and that's the spot that means everything when the season is over.
Luton dropped to sixth in midweek and if they remain there they won't be making the play-offs in their third season at this level. That would be a huge failure for The Hatters and it makes the game a ‘must win' for them.
With the clubs below sixth spot also breathing down their necks a draw wouldn't suit either club. Luton, as the home side, are 11/10 favourites with the draw offered at 12/5. York are priced at 12/5 after their FA Trophy semi-final success over The Hatters.
In fact Gary Mills' team are unbeaten in their last four matches against Gary Brabin's side. Luton's last win in this fixture was last year's home clash in the league which they won 5-0, although there were excuses on York's part as they played the majority of the game without a recognised goalkeeper following the 14th-minute sending-off of Michael Ingham.
With red-cards prevalent in live Blue Square Bet Premier games and no love lost between these two sides there could be some value in backing a ‘sending-off' at 9/4.
Andre Gray scored on his Luton debut at home to Grimsby last weekend and he is 6/1 to score first here and 13/8 to score at any stage of the game. If Jason Walker gets over a hamstring injury then he could start for City against his former club.
The striker is 9/2 to score in any York victory. York failed to win all 11 of their games away at their fellow top half teams last season, in contrast this campaign has seen them defeated in just two matches away from home in 18 trips.
Home form has been more of a problem for them, but they still managed to defeat Luton 3-0 in a comprehensive performance back in September. York's defeats in the league this season (seven in total) have come against imposing physical long-ball sides. The way they play this could actually be the kind of fixture to suit them even though they are the outsiders.
Luton have been struggling against the better sides in the division, the ones they are in direct competition with for promotion. The Hatters have just one win from eight matches against the sides above them in the table. I'd expect a low scoring but nonetheless exciting game and ‘Under 2.5' goals has to be a consideration at 4/5. The best value lies with a low scoring York City victory and a 1-0 away win at 8/1 makes most appeal.
Saturday's fixtures feature important matches for leaders Fleetwood Town and their pursuers for the title Wrexham.
Despite playing away at Bath City, Fleetwood are the shortest priced favourites on the coupon at 1/4.
The Romans are averaging just 0.85 goals per game and don't have the profile to threaten Fleetwood's weakness, which I feel is their defence. This could be a high scoring away victory and a price of 8/11 for The Cod Army to beat a one-goal handicap is not off-putting.
Wrexham are 10/11 to keep the title race alive with a win at Cambridge United. The U's have only won two of their last nine games and haven't scored more than one goal within that run of fixtures.
The Red Dragons have won more than 60 per cent of their away games this season so 10/11 appeals as a value price.
Mansfield Town are in third place and are 2/5 to consolidate that berth with a home win over Ebbsfleet United. The Fleet have had a great first season back at this level and their safety is all but assured.
With Mansfield requiring the points and Ebbsfleet's results going slightly off the boil you'd have to fancy a home win.
Southport are hanging on to their play-off place and their result at York last week proves they are worthy of their position. They should account for Hayes & Yeading United at a price of 1/2 at Haig Avenue.
If any of the sides above them in the table drop points then Grimsby's home game with Kidderminster provides a huge incentive for the winner. A home win is priced at 10/11, with Kidderminster offered at 14/5
A draw doesn't suit either team and you'd also have to speculate that the losers of this game would see their promotion hopes disappear. Grimsby look the best bet, despite their indifferent form of late, just one win in their last five games.
Gateshead are on the heels of both teams in action at Blundell Park and would no doubt hope to see a draw occur there. They are slight outsiders at 8/5 for a trip to FA Trophy finalists Newport County. The Welsh side are still in relegation danger with no wins in their last five league matches, they do have the cushion of games in hand but must start picking up victories soon. Gateshead are in better form and make more appeal at the prices.
Barrow's form of five defeats without scoring a single goal would be alarming if they were anywhere near the bottom of the table, thankfully they were in a good position before their slump. Their trip to Forest Green Rovers sees them at a price of 7/2 to return to winning ways but you'd have to fancy a home win at 8/11 under the circumstances.
Alfreton Town look to have secured a second season in Non-League's top-flight with an impressive run of form since the turn of the year.
Their form in 2012 would put them as high as ninth in the table and they are just 9/4 to win at Braintree this weekend.
The Essex side are favourites at 21/20.
Lincoln City have responded to their relegation threat with successive victories and host Tamworth on Saturday. David Holdsworth's team look a value bet at Evens to make it a winning run of three league matches for the first time since February of last year.
The draw also has to be considered at 9/4 too, with Tamworth producing that result in their last four games. AFC Telford United will be a shade of odds-on at home to Darlington who desperately need the points to avoid slipping into the Blue Square Bet North.
Kettering Town host Stockport County in another game in which markets will not be released until closer to kick-off time.
Alan's Best Bets for Luton Town v York City:
RED CARD TO BE SHOWN - Match Specials
YORK CITY TO WIN 1-0 - Correct Score
UNDER 2.5 GOALS - Total Goals Over/Under
Alan's Best Weekend Treble:
WREXHAM to win at Cambridge United
GRIMSBY TOWN to beat Kidderminster Harriers
MANSFIELD TOWN to beat Ebbsfleet United
Luton Town v York City is live on Premier Sports TV - Friday 30th March 7pm (7.30pm kick-off) - visit www.premiersports.tv for subscription details.
You can play your part in the commentary for this game! Contact commentators Steve Bower and Ian Snodin during the action to give your thoughts - email: email@example.com OR Twitter: @steveandsnods.
You can follow me on Twitter - @AlanBlueSquare