BSBP & FA TROPHY WEEKEND BETTING PREVIEW
Thursday Mar 15, 2012
BY ALAN ALGER FROM BLUE SQUARE
Fleetwood's draw at Mansfield Town in midweek has resulted in their price for the Blue Square Bet Premier title drifting from 2/7 to 1/2.
Micky Mellon's team are still obviously the clear favourites to win automatic promotion, but Wrexham kept up their pursuit with a thrilling 5-0 success at Ebbsfleet United. That closes the gap at the top of the table to just three points and the Red Dragons have an all-important game in hand to draw level with the current leaders.
The relentless battle at the summit has prompted some in the game to speculate that whoever misses out may set a record for second place. It certainly looks that way on our figures. It also confirms that the bottleneck created by only one automatic spot needs rectifying.
We've often seen the disappointment of missing out on the title adversely affect a team's play-off chances. In fact the two recent winners of the ‘Promotion Final' (Oxford United and AFC Wimbledon) both had enough time to get over the fact they weren't going to catch the eventual winners. I feel that this season's race will be close enough to be settled very close to those important semi-finals and the manager of that team will need every bit of motivational expertise in lifting his charges.
It's something that Micky Mellon has had experience of, in the Blue Square Bet North two seasons ago. His Fleetwood team failed by a single point on the final day of the season, but managed to win that section's final.
Of course Wrexham boss Andy Morrell is experiencing his first season in management and you have to wonder if that will be a factor if they are the ones to miss out. Wrexham have a weekend off due to the FA Trophy semi-finals. Fleetwood have the chance to move six points clear with a win away at AFC Telford United. They are priced as the worthy 4/7 favourites to do so. Morrell's team will then of course have two games in hand to level the gap.
Mansfield will no doubt class their home draw with Fleetwood as a decent marker to lay down in the race for the play-off spots. Indeed their opponents on the night would probably have settled for a point before realising what the result was at Ebbsfleet. Mansfield are one of the form teams in the division and can move to third in the table with a home win over Barrow on Saturday. The Stags are 4/6 favourites to continue their good run and leapfrog Luton Town, who are in FA Trophy action.
Punters who backed Paul Cox's team each-way would not have expected to have been in with a shout of landing the place portion of any each-way bets, but now stand a very good chance of seeing a return.
Barrow are 7/2 outsiders to do Luton, and the other teams around them, a favour.
Southport can move into the play-off positions at the expense of York City, who play Luton in that FA Trophy clash.
Liam Watson's team are seeking a hat-trick of wins this season against weekend opponents Stockport. A home win at Haig Avenue is 8/11, whilst Stockport are 3/1 to record, what would be, just their third road win of the season. Just one win in four matches has seen Grimsby Town's promotion charge stutter and they now find themselves six points off the final berth.
Their home game with Tamworth could be considered a ‘must-win' for The Mariners. They are the very short 1/2 favourites to get back on track.
Kidderminster Harriers are another team who have seen their promotion title wane. They also have a must win game, away at Braintree Town. That's no easy task for Steve Burr's team as plenty of teams have discovered in Essex. Gateshead and Cambridge United are both clinging to slim play-off hopes but the loser of their game at the Abbey Stadium will surely be out of it. Cambridge are the 6/5 favourites with home advantage.
Elsewhere Forest Green Rovers are another odds-on home favourite as they welcome Hayes & Yeading United to The New Lawn. A home win is as short as 4/7. Ebbsfleet will be slight favourites to bounce back from their heavy midweek defeat at the hands of Wrexham as they make the long journey up to Darlington.
Alfreton Town can gain a valuable three points in their survival battle in the six-pointer at Kettering Town.
Bath City remain 12 points from safety with an adverse goal-difference and you'd have to say that even a home win over Lincoln City at 7/5 will not save them.
The FA Trophy semi-final second legs see York City take a slender one goal lead to Luton Town. The Hatters are the 11/10 favourites for the 90 minute game but York are slight favourites to progress to the Wembley final due to their starting position. Newport County are 10/11 to complete a professional job over Ryman Premier Wealdstone. They take a 3-1 lead to London and should see it out.
Alan's Best Weekend Treble:
DRAW - Bath City v Lincoln City
DRAW - Cambridge United v Gateshead
FOREST GREEN ROVERS to beat Hayes & Yeading United
You can follow me on Twitter - @AlanBlueSquare