Friday Feb 22, 2013
FA Trophy & Blue Square Bet Premier - Weekend Betting Preview - by Alan Alger from Blue Square Bet
FA Trophy Semi-Final 2nd Legs
Grimsby Town and Wrexham are almost neck-and-neck in the market for the Blue Square Bet Premier title and the results from the first legs suggest that they will be meeting in the FA Trophy Final at Wembley on March 24. The Mariners travel to Dartford with a 3-0 lead and are as short as 1/50 to make it to the national stadium. An away win is priced at 5/4, with a Dartford victory priced at 15/8. A draw is offered at 23/10 but it's unlikely to be a goalless one at 9/1. The Kent side will have to come out and attack from the off if they are to have any chance of turning the tie around. A three goal home win would set up the prospect of extra-time and possibly penalties and that looks the only realistic route for a remarkable comeback. Grimsby have the best defence in the league by a long way and have conceded 3 or more goals just six times in their last 77 BSBP matches, with just one of those occasions happening this season. Gainsborough Trinity of the Blue Square Bet North start their home game with Wrexham two goals behind, but Red Dragons boss Andy Morrell has warned his troops not to be complacent. Wrexham are 4/7 favourites to win the game, with Gainsborough big outsiders at 4/1. A repeat of the 3-1 scoreline from the first leg is just 10/1. Morrell has seen his team concede less than two goals in a game on an incredible 63 occasions in their last 78 regular league outings. Which all points to Trinity having a mountain to climb to reach the showpiece final.
Blue Square Bet Premier
Friday night's game in the Blue Square Bet Premier sees Macclesfield Town host struggling Gateshead. The visitors have endured a disjointed campaign after problems with their pitch and the departure of Ian Bogie and this fixture is one they cannot afford to lose with survival in Non-League's top-flight at stake. Defeat could see them drop to the bottom of the table if other results go against them between now and next Wednesday, a real departure from their play-off challenge of last season. Macclesfield harbour outside hopes of a play-off spot but must start turning draws into wins soon. Steve King's team have won three and drawn three of their last six matches to remain unbeaten since mid-January, but still sit 8 points off that all-important fifth place. They are 4/6 to beat Gateshead and keep that run going and that looks the best play on this game with the away side arriving at Moss Rose with just one win in their last 11 league matches.
It's another Saturday in the BSBP which sees the top two otherwise engaged in the FA Trophy. The chasing pack all took their chances last week to keep up the pressure on the leading duo. Kidderminster Harriers stormed into third place with away wins at Hyde and Forest Green Rovers in the last few days and now receive a quote of just 6/1 to win the title - having drifted to an incredible 250/1 after failing to win any of their first ten games. Steve Burr's team host Alfreton Town on Saturday and a home win is priced at just 1/2. Alfreton's away form has been reasonably good on the whole this season, but one win in their last five matches on the road tempers any confidence in them at 9/2. Newport County are another promotion chasing team who are odds-on at home. The Exiles are chalked up at 2/5 to beat bottom club AFC Telford United whose fans must be getting sick of the date ‘October 9'. That night they won 4-1 at Dartford to go 8th in the table but now find themselves propping up 23 teams, having not won since. The price of 11/2 for them to end that sequence at Rodney Parade suggests they might be waiting a little while longer.
The game of the weekend is at Kenilworth Road where Alan Neilson takes over Luton Town for a third time as they look for the manager that can put an end to their stay in Non-League. Paul Buckle departed ahead of the draw with ten-man Macclesfield on Tuesday and the likeable Neilson finds himself picking up the pieces once more. Luton appear at one of the biggest prices they have ever been for a home game in the Conference. A quote of 6/4 for both sides suggests that Mansfield Town could extinguish the last remaining hope of a promotion push and put the top five out of reach with a third of the season to play. Whoever does come into the Hatters' hot-seat might need those remaining games to fire up a charge for Luton to make it fifth time lucky in the 2013/14 season. A sobering thought for their fans. The visitors arrive in good form with six wins in their last seven games, but there is a sense that Paul Cox's team are not as good away from home. This seems to have ‘draw' written all over it from my point of view and I'll be backing a stalemate at a price of 23/10.
Elsewhere Cambridge United need to shake-off a hat-trick of league defeats as they host Hereford United. A home win looks as though it should be swerved at a restrictive 6/5. The Bulls, who can leapfrog Cambridge with a win, have lost just two of their last nine league matches and are worthy of consideration at 2/1. Southport and Woking are also side-by-side in the table and it's the Sandgrounders as hosts who feature as the Evens favourites for the visit of Garry Hill's team. The home side are unbeaten in four league matches and one look at Woking's away from suggests that they do not travel well. A table based on just away games would have them in the relegation zone. Tamworth are in good form under their new manager Dale Belford and can enhance their safety prospects with a win over Hyde at a price of 4/5. Scott McNiven's Tigers are lingering just outside the drop-zone with just one win in their last 8 league matches. There's a real six-pointer at Sincil Bank where home side Lincoln City start life without David Holdsworth. The Imps are Evens favourites to beat a Barrow side who have valiantly kept their survival hopes alive with three wins in their last 6 league matches. The Bluebirds could be worth backing to take another vital three points at 23/10.
Alan's Best Weekend Treble:
DRAW - Luton Town v Mansfield Town
SOUTHPORT to beat Woking
BARROW to win at Lincoln City
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