BLUE SQUARE BET PREMIER LIVE MATCH & WEEKEND BETTING PREVIEW
Friday Apr 20, 2012
BY ALAN ALGER FROM BLUE SQUARE
WITH second place assured for Wrexham and third place all but certain for Mansfield Town, Friday night's live game on Premier Sports gives us a chance to run the rule over two Blue Square Bet Premier play-off contenders.
With pitch conditions thought to be so bad that the game was in doubt it would be foolhardy of either manager to risk any of their star names less than two weeks before the semi-final first legs.
This should give them an ideal opportunity to look at the fringes of their squads in preparation for that final push for League Two.
Prices for this match could fluctuate dramatically when the team news filters through. Our opening price for a Mansfield Town win is 6/5, the draw is on offer at 12/5 and an away win is priced at 15/8.
Some people talk about momentum at this stage of the season and the need to hit the play-offs in winning form. I don't buy into that at all, and although Wrexham boss Andy Morrell is staring at form figures of DDLDWL from their last six games surely his priority is to have his first choice team fit and raring to go at 7.30pm on Thursday 3rd May at the home of the fifth-placed team. Mansfield boss Paul Cox has seen his team lose just twice in the league in 2012. They've climbed from a low of 10th place in the division to end up on top of the also-rans behind Fleetwood and Wrexham's relentless title battle.
A point against the latter here would guarantee third spot but I think they can do better, and win this battle of the back-up squads. Total goals tend to go up at this stage of the season, especially in matches with little at stake. ‘Over 2.5 goals' in this game is 8/11 and that looks like good value. A correct-score bet on 3-1 to Mansfield at 14/1 also looks like a decent investment.
Whilst Friday's live game doesn't have much riding on it there are plenty of hugely important fixtures amongst the remaining 11 matches on Saturday afternoon. The game of the day is at Kenilworth Road where play-off hopefuls Luton Town and Kidderminster Harriers go head-to-head.
The hosts are two points behind Harriers with a game in hand, as the sides occupy fifth and sixth in the table. A win for Kidderminster at a price of 23/10 could put the play-offs out of reach for their opponents.
The Paul Buckle era at Luton has got off to a decent start with two home wins and a draw away at in-form Alfreton Town.
It could be argued that this is their first big test under the former Torquay boss and we're offering a best price of 11/10 on a home win.
York City can cement a play-off place with a win at Braintree Town. The Minstermen are 10/11 favourites to win in Essex and complete a double over Alan Devonshire's team after a 6-2 win earlier in the season.
Only three teams in the top half of the table have won at Cressing Road this season so it will be a tough afternoon for Gary Mills' men. Braintree have suffered just two defeats in their last eleven games and could appeal to some at a price of 5/2.
Gateshead and Southport both have outside hopes of reaching the ‘top five' and both are priced at 4/6 to win this weekend. Gateshead make the long journey to bottom club Bath City whilst Southport host Ebbsfleet United. Both are expected to win although results elsewhere may make the play-offs an impossibility by the final whistle.
Newly crowned Blue Square Bet Premier champions Fleetwood Town have a number of all-time Conference records in their sights so may not take things easy when they visit Cambridge United.
The Cod Army are 4/5 to secure the points that will put them top of the charts for the most points in a season at this level. Cambridge will be looking to build for next season and still have a number of players missing, as was the case in midweek when they were beaten at home by ten-man York.
Hayes & Yeading United look as if they've failed to pull off a second great escape and they have to turn over an impossibly difficult goal-difference and take maximum points from their remaining games.
I fully expect an in-form Lincoln City team to put them out of their misery on Saturday with a home win at a price of 3/4. Newport County are the only team who could be in danger of a Hayes & Yeading miracle. The Exiles host Alfreton Town this weekend and an away win appeals at 15/8.
Nicky Law's team have been transformed since the turn of the year and should account for a team who may have one eye on the FA Trophy final at Wembley.
Elsewhere Grimsby Town are the slight 11/8 favourites to win at AFC Telford United. Stockport County are odds-on favourites at 5/6 to beat visitors Tamworth.
Barrow will be slight favourites to win away at Kettering and Forest Green will be heavily odds-on to win at home to Darlington.
Alan's Best Bets for Mansfield Town v Wrexham:
MANSFIELD TOWN to beat Wrexham
OVER 2.5 GOALS - Total Goals
MANSFIELD TOWN TO WIN 3-1 - Correct Score
Alan's Best Weekend Treble:
FLEETWOOD TOWN to win at Cambridge United
LINCOLN CITY to beat Hayes & Yeading United
ALFRETON TOWN to win at Newport County
Mansfield Town v Wrexham is live on Premier Sports TV - Friday 19th April 7pm (7.30pm kick-off) - visit http://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