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Blue Square Bet weekend preview

Friday Dec 7, 2012

FRIDAY'S LIVE MATCH - Barrow v Hereford United

With both sides one game away from a valuable tie in the third round of the FA Cup, managers Dave Bayliss and Martin Foyle will want to focus their players' minds on gaining an important three points in Friday's live Blue Square Bet Premier fixture on Premier Sports. The home side haven't won a league game for nearly two months and have dropped to 23rd in the table. The tight nature of the league is illustrated by Hereford United occupying 13th place, but only six points better off than the Bluebirds. The Bulls do have a game in hand though and a win tonight could briefly put them as high as 9th in the standings. It's unusual to see Barrow with just one home win to their name from 10 league games this season. An overall win rate of 38% at Holker Street in the previous four seasons peaked at a whopping 52% last term. Bayliss knows that their survival in Non-League's top flight will depend on his squad quickly addressing that paltry 10% figure for home wins this season. Hereford have been beaten four times on the road, winning two of their ten matches. They've lost just two of their last eight league games, but any promotion charge has been slowed down by far too many drawn games (4 in their last 8). The Bulls still warrant narrow favouritism and backing going into this tie though at a price of 6/4, Barrow are the outsiders at 13/8 and a draw is priced at 12/5.

Hereford's away games have been averaging nearly 3.5 goals whilst Barrow's home games have been averaging exactly 3. In such a high scoring division it's no surprise to see ‘Over 2.5' goals quoted at a restrictive 4/6, with the price on ‘Both Teams to Score' also odds-on at 4/9. A 2-1 away victory looks the best value on the ‘Correct Score' market at 9/1. Something I've noticed this season (more than most) is that lots of goals are being scored towards the end of a half in matches. At Blue Square Bet we offer a special market on the ‘Time of the First Goal' and speculating on 31-45mins inclusive (a bet that would also include first half injury time) at 4/1 might be a very good bet on the recent stats.

Saturday's Matches

Newport County went back to the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier table last week with their impressive home win over Gateshead. Justin Edinburgh's side face a real test of their title credentials as they travel to the division's form team Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday afternoon. It's not often that you can back a team leading a division at a price as big as 11/5 when playing a team in 8th place but one look at the table since the 1st September tells you why. Since that date Harriers have lost just one match and have performed at 1.81 points per game as opposed to the visitors who after their very good start have dropped to 1.60 points per game in the period. At that rate Kidderminster would catch them up by late February and it's no wonder that people keep nibbling at the huge price for Steve Burr's team to take the title or an each-way place. A figure that has dropped from an astonishing 250/1 to just 33/1 in the last couple of months. Losing five straight league games and not winning until game number eleven would be the most incredible title turnaround in British football history but one stat should keep the Aggborough faithful level-headed. They are yet to travel away to 9 of the top ten teams in the title betting, so a very tricky second half of the season awaits. They are the 11/10 favourites to keep up their good form with a win, but a draw looks best to me at 9/4.

Grimsby Town continue to pick up points at a decent pace and boast the best defence and the joint-best loss rate in the division. They are one of an incredible seven odds-on home teams amongst Saturday's eleven matches in the division. Their weekend opponents Tamworth have won just two of their last ten games and have failed to score in five of their last seven. It should all be straight-forward for The Mariners at a price of 8/15, but cautious punters should note that they have already failed at prices shorter than 11/10 on 8 occasions already in this campaign. Forest Green Rovers have got their title push back on track with a four game unbeaten league run and are 8/11 home favourites against Macclesfield Town. According to reports Steve King's side were fortunate to end a three game losing run with a victory over Hyde in midweek and therefore might struggle at The New Lawn. Wrexham are the shortest price on the coupon at 1/3 to see off Nuneaton Town at The Racecourse. With three defeats for the Red Dragons in their last six league games, the price looks more like accumulator material than a one-off single. On top of that Nuneaton have two wins from their last three league games and may have turned the corner.

Two wins from their last eight league games has seen plenty of people write-off Dartford's chances of maintaining their position in the play-off zone. Tony Burman's team are still in fifth place though and without any other team making a real charge they are still in contention. A lot will depend on whether they can regain the form that put them there. On Saturday they host Lincoln City who suffered the ‘manger of the month' curse in midweek with defeat at home to Woking. Dartford are the 11/10 home favourites with The Imps quoted at 2/1. Luton Town haven't won a league game since the 27th of October, but still cling on to favouritism for the title. With at least one game in hand on the sides occupying the top five and no team running away at the top, The Hatters have been handed an almost level playing field to re-assess their assault on the title. In the last few season's their chance would have been almost gone by now. They are the 4/9 favourites to avenge an early season 3-0 defeat at the hands of Alfreton Town. Paul Buckle's team with home advantage now but showing overall figures which suggest they are better away, apart from that blip at the Impact Arena in September. It's a tricky game to call and there's no doubt that Nicky Law's visitors will have their supporters at 11/2 and especially on the ‘First Team to Score' market at 2/1, considering the home sides knack of giving teams a goal start.

It has been a strange season for Mansfield Town with just as many negatives as positives for manager Paul Cox to weigh-up. One thing that he will be happy about is their home form in the league which is by far the best of all 24 teams. The Stags are 8/15 favourites to beat Ebbsfleet United at Field Mill on Saturday afternoon. The Kent side arrive in the East Midlands with just three defeats in their last eleven league matches and will provide a stern test priced at 9/2. Gateshead find themselves just six points off the play-off zone despite winning just two of their last 13 matches. Another statistic that screams out that a consistent run could sew up promotion for any team in the top half. Ian Bogie's team go to Cambridge United as slight 9/5 outsiders, with a home victory priced at 5/4. It's hard to know if there was any kidology in Richard Money's quotes after his side won 4-2 at Ebbsfleet in midweek, the Cambridge boss saying that the performance was not good enough. Mind games or not he will be pleased that The U's are unbeaten in three league outings and have a relatively easy run coming up in which they could make up some ground. Up until the last two matches Woking were becoming a ‘Both Teams to Score' backers dream, with 18 of their previous 20 matches going that way. A 7-0 defeat at Hyde, spectacularly overcome with a 2-0 win at in-form Lincoln will have all punters, let alone BTTS fans scratching their heads. At 6/5 at home to Stockport County it's hard to know if we can trust Garry Hill's team, but the visitors do not come with any cast-iron guarantee of performing even at an inflated price of 9/5.

Elsewhere AFC Telford United manager Andy Sinton has fired a warning shot at his squad stating that players will be sold in the next few weeks to make way for new arrivals. An away trip to Hyde becomes vastly important for a number of reasons and the tight nature of the early exchanges around the bottom means that nobody can rest easy. Hyde are the worthy 10/11 favourites to win this ‘6-pointer', with Telford offered at 12/5 to halt their slump and respond to Sinton's unorthodox rallying call. Braintree Town had a disastrous Tuesday when their FA Trophy exit to Havant & Waterlooville was followed by news that they'd gone to the bottom of the BSBP pile after league results elsewhere on the same night. Alan Devonshire's team are the 13/5 outsiders to win at Southport, with the home side rated as my best bet of the day at a price of 10/11.

On a day Saturday of short-priced favourites it's worth pointing out that a four-timer (accumulator) on Grimsby, Luton, Mansfield and Wrexham will pay just over 7/2 for ambitious odds-on backers!

Alan's Best Bets for Barrow v Hereford United:

HEREFORD UNITED to win at Barrow

2-1 to HEREFORD UNITED - Correct Score

31-45mins inc. - Time of First Goal

Alan's Best Weekend Treble:

SOUTHPORT to beat Braintree Town

HYDE to beat AFC Telford United

FOREST GREEN ROVERS to beat Macclesfield Town

Barrow v Hereford United is live on Premier Sports TV - Friday 7th December at 7.15pm (7.45pm 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: steveandsnods@premiersports.tv OR Twitter: @steveandsnodsps.

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