Friday Mar 23, 2012


For the first time in a number of weeks we have a full set of Blue Square Bet Premier fixtures kicking-off at 3pm on a Saturday. And what a set of fixtures they are!
Of course most weekends at this stage of the season will have important repercussions but the fixtures computer (the hand of Dennis Strudwick) has served up a treat for Saturday, March 24, 2012.
Three games involve sides in the top eight of the table facing off against each other. We also have the same situation in the relegation zone, where six of the bottom eight teams will meet a fellow struggler.
In fact it's hard to find a game that doesn't mean anything on a ‘Super Saturday'!
As always we'll start at the top and Fleetwood Town lead by six points from Wrexham who have two games in hand. Those points on the board count for a lot at this stage and for that reason we make Fleetwood our 1/3 title favourites going into the weekend.
A hell of a lot could change by Saturday evening though as I fear that both contenders could drop points. Fleetwood welcome a free-scoring and in-form Mansfield Town side to Highbury.
The Stags have averaged over three goals per game in an unbeaten run stretching back to mid-February. They scored six away at local rivals Alfreton Town in midweek and seven in the game before that at home to Barrow. In that time they have only kept two clean sheets though so that will temper confidence for a trip to a side blessed with as much attacking talent as Fleetwood. Micky Mellon's team are unbeaten in an incredible 24-match run, but they have been susceptible to the odd shaky performance at home this season and that's what makes an away win a value bet at 7/2.
Favourite backers who can trust the Cod Army to win, what will probably amount to a shoot-out, will have to take odds of 4/6 with a big helping of faith. Fleetwood dropping points should open the door for Wrexham but I can also see a ‘shock' result at the Racecourse. Forest Green Rovers have been the model of inconsistency this season as their last two results prove.
A home defeat at the hands of struggling Hayes & Yeading United followed up with a 3-0 drubbing of play-off contenders Luton Town. If we want to back Forest Green for an away win at 4/1 we need to trust that midweek result. Did it say more about the state Luton Town are in at the moment? Regardless of that conundrum Forest Green have been effective away from home this season and in four games away at the top five teams they've only been beaten once.
They complete the set of five with a trip to Wrexham, where the draw is on offer at a value price of 3/1.
Luton Town's haul of just 12 points from a possible 27 in recent weeks would not be enough to threaten fifth place if you dragged it out over the course of the season. It's no wonder that Luton missing out on the top five has therefore been a big topic on Twitter in the last month or so, and also on TV when Premier Sports commentator Steve Bower asked me after their defeat at Wrexham.
The Hatters have only three goals in their last 450 minutes of BSBP football and that's a huge worry as they approach the most important stage of the season. Grimsby Town are the visitors to Kenilworth Road on Saturday afternoon and The Mariners will smell blood. The away side can move within a point of their hosts with a win here at a price of 11/4 and I fancy them to do so.
Another game with huge play-off implications takes place at Bootham Crescent. Sixth-placed York City host fifth-placed Southport in a clash which could decide the fate of the losers.
York have two games in hand on their opponents and can move a point clear of them in the table with a win, which may put an end to Southport's incredible ‘top five' challenge. The Minstermen have struggled at home this season though, where they are expected to take the game to their opponents. We've already seen physical sides leave Yorkshire with a share of the spoils (or in some cases much more) this season. I think York will edge this game at a price of 8/11 but this isn't a match to place too much faith in with plenty of better punting opportunities elsewhere in the division.
Gateshead have put their promotion charge back on track with successive 1-0 victories and I think they can make that a hat-trick of wins with a victory at Tamworth at a price of 11/8. Kidderminster Harriers will be odds-on favourites to beat Darlington at Aggborough, but having played more games than most of the teams around them their play-off hopes are now slim.
With five defeats in their last eight matches Cambridge United have seen their early season promotion hopes all but extinguished. Jez George's side are 6/4 to win away at Alfreton Town, the home side are also priced at 6/4. A market that would have been very different earlier in the season. Alfreton's recent form of five wins in nine matches has given them a fantastic chance of a second campaign in the division.
Barrow boss Dave Bayliss has watched his side suffer four straight defeats without scoring a single goal, a sequence that coincided with being handed the February manager of the month award before his side's game against Bath City.
The Bluebirds need to get back on track and are 6/5 to do so at home to Braintree Town. An away win for the Essex side is offered at 15/8.
Ebbsfleet United will be odds-on favourites to consolidate a safe mid-table position with a home win over Kettering Town.
Hayes & Yeading United have been the scourge of my punting for the past two seasons and without looking at the figures I feel I've barely called a game of theirs right in over 15 or so attempts. The second version of their relegation escape act is well under way and they could move level on points with weekend opponents AFC Telford United with a home win at a price of 5/4 - I'm steering clear though.
FA Trophy finalists Newport County have a few games in hand to cushion their relegation fears, but a win at fellow strugglers Lincoln City would certainly do the trick at a price of 8/5. Lincoln are the home favourites at 7/5, but that's a price that won't appeal to many due to their recent record of just one win in 12 matches.
Stockport County have lost three games on the bounce but are incredibly still odds-on favourites at 5/6 to win at home to bottom club Bath City. The Romans returned to losing ways at Gateshead after back-to-back league wins and surely defeat here would be the end of their brave fight?

Alan's Best Weekend Treble:
MANSFIELD TOWN to win at Fleetwood Town
DRAW - Wrexham v Forest Green Rovers
GRIMSBY TOWN to win at Luton Town

You can follow me on Twitter - @AlanBlueSquare

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