BSP & FA TROPHY LIVE MATCH & WEEKEND BETTING PREVIEW
Friday Mar 9, 2012
BY ALAN ALGER FROM BLUE SQUARE
Once again Fleetwood Town get the chance to shoot first in the battle for the Blue Square Bet Premier title.
Having beaten Grimsby Town on Tuesday night, they watched in anticipation as promotion rivals Wrexham played Luton Town the following night. The Welsh side didn't fluff their lines as they reduced the gap at the top back to five points (with a game in hand) in a professional 2-0 win over the Hatters in a live game.
It's Fleetwood who face the scrutiny of the Premier Sports' cameras on Friday night as they visit Kidderminster Harriers.
Micky Mellon's team should be in for a real slog for three points at Aggborough but you could argue that this is the right time to play Steve Burr's side.
Harriers have won just two of their last eight league matches, both of those victories achieved against sides in the bottom five. They haven't scored more than two goals in any of those matches and you feel they will need at least three in this game to compete with the free-scoring title favourites.
The last time Fleetwood failed to score in the league was on October 8, three days later on October 11, they inexplicably lost 4-1 at home to Newport County. That shock defeat has been followed by an astonishing run of 21 unbeaten matches in the division and a points haul from those games of 57 out of 63. Just to illustrate their firepower, those 21 matches have seen the Cod Army average 2.8 goals per game.
One potential area of weakness has been in defence where clean sheets have been few and far between, but that only sticks out when compared to their title rivals, otherwise they sit in a respectable sixth place in the table for the least goals conceded. Mellon's team did have to battle for the three points at home to Grimsby on Tuesday and were fortunate to get the penalty that fired up their comeback. Kidderminster have had a free midweek to reflect on a home defeat at the hands of Barrow last Saturday.
They will be without impressive striker Jamille Matt who has time off for personal reasons, which is a huge blow for Burr. For that reason an away win makes plenty of appeal at 4/5. Fleetwood forward Jamie Vardy has been in the kind of form that will continue to turn the heads of sides in the Championship and beyond. He can be backed at 7/2 to score the first goal of the night, but a better bet is to invest in him scoring in any Fleetwood win at 6/4 on the ‘wincast' market. Over 70 per cent of Fleetwood's games this season have featured ‘over 2.5 goals' and that suggests we are getting a little bit of value on that selection at 8/15 on the ‘total goals over/under' market.
On Saturday we have a reduced programme of eight Blue Square Bet Premier fixtures due to Friday's live game and the Semi-Finals of the FA Trophy.
Wrexham could once again be kicking off their match with an eight point gap to leaders Fleetwood Town. The Red Dragons are 4/9 to get revenge on opponents Barrow for a 3-1 defeat at Holker Street earlier in the season.
The visitors will have had an extra day to get over their shock home defeat at the hands of Bath City in midweek, whilst Wrexham were deserved winners against promotion rivals Luton Town. Racecourse boss Andy Morrell does not have the largest squad to choose from but should have enough in his pack to justify the short price and keep the title race open for the time being.
Mansfield Town moved nicely into the play-off zone with their fourth straight league win on Tuesday night, away at Cambridge United. The Stags have a good chance of matching their five game winning streak from earlier in the season with an away victory at Tamworth. Paul Cox's side are the 5/4 favourites to win away from home, whilst Tamworth are offered at 7/4 to get back to winning ways after just 1 point from their last three matches.
Southport are still in there fighting to extend their season with a shot at the play-offs. Liam Watson's team are given a respectful favourites quote of 13/10 to win at AFC Telford United on Saturday afternoon.
Telford themselves sit precariously above the relegation zone with just two wins in their last 13 league matches and make very little appeal at a price of 7/4. Gateshead have been inconsistent of late but they are still managing to get on the scoresheet. Only once this season have they failed to score in a league game. They are the 13/8 slight outsiders at Braintree Town this weekend.
The Essex outfit reaching their safety target of 50 points with 10 games left, having lost just three of their last 12 matches. They are unbeaten at home since early December and are worthy 13/10 favourites. The harsh competitive reality of the league will not be lost on Grimsby Town who probably deserved a point at leaders Fleetwood in midweek. Instead a late 2-1 reverse sees them drop to ninth in the table, despite a preceding run of 15 games unbeaten.
It's tight at the top and they'll need to react positively to that blow if they are to land odds of 5/6 at home to away draw specialists Forest Green Rovers. Another stalemate on the road for Dave Hockaday's side is priced at 12/5, and if it happens will be their ninth in 18 matches away from the New Lawn.
Elsewhere in the division Cambridge United need to halt an alarming run with some kind of result away at Stockport County. The U's are the 8/5 outsiders to win at Edgeley Park, where the home side are also licking their wounds.
County were defeated 6-1 at Alfreton Town on Tuesday, off the back of what could have been considered as an improved run of form. Jim Gannon's team are unbeaten in their last six games at home though, so are worthy favourites at 7/5.
Alfreton, no doubt buoyed by that comprehensive midweek victory, will be looking to leapfrog Lincoln City with a win at Sincil Bank. The Imps are struggling for form and they are hard to recommend at an odds-on price of 10/11 against Nicky Law's team. Neither outfit can be relied upon for consistency but an away win looks a value call at 5/2. Hayes & Yeading will be slight favourites for their relegation six-pointer at home to Kettering Town.
The FA Trophy semi-final first legs take place this weekend with three Blue Square Bet Premier sides still in the competition along with a Wealdstone from the Ryman Premier league.
A fantastic achievement already for Gordon Bartlett's part-timers. They have earned the right to play Newport County over two legs and Justin Edinburgh's team will be taking nothing for granted. Newport are at home in the first match on Saturday and are priced as the 4/7 favourites to travel to London with an advantage in the tie next week.
The other pairing sees BSBP promotion rivals York and Luton face-off for a place at Wembley, something they could also be doing in the division's play-off race. In the meantime the first leg of this FA Trophy tie is at Bootham Crescent where York are the 5/4 favourites, Luton Town have drifted to 15/8 outsiders after a lacklustre display at Wrexham in midweek. Although the Hatters remain the favourites to win the tournament outright at 11/8.
Alan's Best Bets for Kidderminster Harriers v Fleetwood Town:
FLEETWOOD TOWN to win at Kidderminster Harriers
JAMIE VARDY to score in any FLEETWOOD TOWN victory - Wincast
OVER 2.5 GOALS - Total Goals Over/Under
Alan's Best Weekend Treble:
ALFRETON TOWN to win at Lincoln City
MANSFIELD TOWN to win at Tamworth
WREXHAM to beat Barrow
Kidderminster Harriers v Fleetwood Town is live on Premier Sports TV - Friday 9th 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: firstname.lastname@example.org OR Twitter: @steveandsnods.
You can follow me on Twitter - @AlanBlueSquare