Saturday, January 14, 2012


Two previews below, the first was written and sent out early Friday morning, the second overnight. Brentford have been well backed in asia, but the preview might still be of interest to some.....

Going to start in League 1 and the Brentford- Walsall match. Let's take a look at the Bees last six starts, just one win and seven points ( four draws), they really should have collected twelve points in that sequence, during which they played very poorly at home to Bournemouth and in the first half to MK Dons, when they shipped three goals and it could have been more. On the road, they completely dominated Bury, Tranmere Rovers and Charlton Athletic and collected two points in the process, they have been all over the league leaders in both meetings this season and lost both times, with Athletic hardly registering an attempt on goal....... only the Bees could manage this ! This sequence of games is a microcosm of their season so far, results at Griffin Park have been terrible, perhaps just three good performances, on the road they are 5-5-2 and should probably have won nine ! As I have said several times recently they are a work in progress, but will improve in the second half of the campaign and I think this improvement has started. If they are to get into the playoff picture, they need to start winning at GP Towers and soon. They have played Charlton twice and also both Sheffield clubs, Notts County and Carlisle on the road, so in therory, their run in should be significantly easier.

They have been unfortunate with injuries, losing Logan and both starting central defenders, plus Harry Forrester, who was brought in to help them play a certain formation, for most of the season. They create a lot of chances, but Donaldson really needs a striker with a little pace to play alongside him, Alexander is strong and will score his share, but is slow and the Bees desperately need a third striker, or fourth if you count Grella. I am sure that the funds will be found, if the right man is available, this could probably be funded by the sale of Karleigh Osbourne, who is likely to be sold in the next week or two, KO had one fantastic season at the club and has a lot of potential, but he is not certain to make it at a higher level and there is plenty of cover for his position, with four players vying for two starting spots. Better that Brentford take the money now and use it to strengthen elsewhere.

Brentford took a lot of confidence from the comeback against Dons and the performance (despite the result) at Charlton. I have not watched highlights of the Tranmere game last week, but someone who's opinion I respect wrote "we were substantially better than Tranmere, and whilst we had a mare with conceding goals, we created chances and looked in control. We passed the ball well, the movement up front was very good, and on that performance, it is hard to understand how we underperform so badly at home ". "Second half, and other than the own goal from Dean, Tranmere rarely threatened, whilst we really piled on some pressure, with Clayton playing extremely well to bamboozle their defence. In my opinion, we lost because of the own goal, no other reason. The performance was a good one, and we clearly can dominate teams away from home, so if Uwe works it out at home, then we can really go places."

Logan should be back in the squad tomorrow, Forrester is fit and getting a run of games, but needs to find some consistency, despite the own goal at Rovers and the debacle in the opening 45 minutes to Dons the defence looks very solid and one day very soon, someone is going to be on the end of a hammering.

Walsall have won just two of 16 starts, one of those came in extra time and in the other, they were losing entering the 92nd minute( !) and hover just above the relegation zone, they have a lack of creativity in midfield and their forwards have managed the lowest shot accuracy percentage in the whole Football League. They are one of the poorest teams Brentford have faced so far and the players signed in the summer, do not look up to League 1 level and confidence from supporters and players alike appears shot. If the Bees can get in front early, they could get a confidence boosting big win and I take them to do just that. 1.5 units Brentford -0.5 ball 1.80 + .

Onto League 2, where I am going to stick with Accrington Stanley, whom we have discussed several times recently ( three are at the foot of this email), they entertain Barnet at the Crown Ground. The hosts are unbeaten in eleven starts and have won six of their last seven, scoring at least two in everyone of those victories and it is looking more and more like a mirror image of last season, something we picked up upon pretty early.

Confidence is sky high at the club, as you might expect and midfielder Luke Joyce, speaking on the club website echos that and feels his club match up well with the North London club. They beat them 3-1 here last April, just like they had in five of the last eight meetings, the reverse fixture back in September ended 0-0, but Stanley had the better of the chances, despite ending the match with nine men and playing for over 50 minutes with ten. They have strengthened their squad since I wrote the notes for the Burton game, signing Aristote Nsiala from Everton, he played 57 minutes in that game and also made 13 starts for Macclesfield last season on an earlier loan, so knows the division well. The return of talented and vastly experienced Ian Craney to action, he scored two goals in the Lancashire Cup in midweek, gives them further options and it is "all gravy" for Stanley at present.

Barnet have tended to save their best performances for the cup this season and are just 90 minutes away from a Wembley final after a 1-1 draw with Swindon Town in midweek. That hard fought JPT Area final is bound to have taken plenty out of them and it also came at a cost, with right back Danny Senda breaking his leg, they do not have a "natural" replacement for him and will have to reshuffle the backline a little to cover. Big, big game for Stanley, three points will take them right into the playoff picture and with some tough games on the horizon, this is as "easy" as it gets for a while. Accrington Stanley -0.75 ball 1.98 asian line.

Good Luck.

Written 06/01
I am keen on Accrington Stanley as a club ( they are incredibly well run on a tiny budget) and team in Division 2, we talked about them ahead of the trip to Morecambe ( see below) and again before they went to Hereford United ( also below). That second game was odd, United were backed off the board, for reasons that were not entirely clear, luckily we picked up on that early and were not officially involved, it ended 1-1, since when United have won 2-0 at, yes you guessed it ..... Burton Albion, whom Stanley face today, at the same time Accrington were putting four unanswered goals past Morecambe in the return fixture. That makes nine league games unbeaten and they have won five of their last six, scoring at the rate of 2.5 per game in that sequence, they have not been prolific winners ( 2-8-2) on the road, but are very tough to beat and improving week upon week. Burton created a lot of chances against the Bulls, but couldn't find the back of the net, that is very dangerous as they have been conceding far too freely at the other end of the pitch and allowed two or more in seven of their last eight starts, that included games against AFC Wimbledon ( who have lost seven in a row), basement club Northampton Town and Hereford ( twice), which is about as bad as it gets, from a defensive point of view. Stanley have a good record here, being unbeaten in five visits to the Pirelli Stadium and travel in very good spirits, Andy Proctor, who is Mr Accrington and epitomises everything that is right at the club, gave an interview on the club website and was oozing confidence, he noted that they were in a stronger position than at the same stage last season, said they had "nothing to fear in this division", talked about how "very solid they were with the new formation, which allows more goals from midfield" and also how the blistering pace of Micah Evans ( on loan from Blackburn Rovers), had given them an extra dimension.
Hosts are 6-4-2 at home and in the playoff places as I type, but do not look in the best of places at present and Stanley can close to within a point of them and the top seven with a win. Albion are very leaky as discussed and no team in the top 16, let alone the post season places has conceded more, hard to see the visitors not scoring at least one, problem is, I do not like the current asian quote of +0.5 ball 1.70, I really do not like quotes below 1.80 much at all and prefer to reduce my stakes and take the draw no bet/ level ball option at odds against ( 2.25/2.30) or the +0.25 ball at 1.95 + if that is an option to you.


Stanley were another team we discussed on Boxing Day, they won 2-1 at Morecambe recording a fourth straight victory for the first time since 2006. They were perhaps not at their best in that local derby game, but battled really well in very difficult conditions and the team spirit at the club is sky high at present, this was touched upon by hugely experienced midfielder Bryan Hughes who scored the winner, his second goal in as many games, after not scoring for three years ! He also added that "we don't fear anyone in this league,I think it's one of those games that people will forget but I think it's a massive win for us. We leapfrog Morecambe now and they've had a wonderful start to the season ,we have some momentum now and we just have to stay focused ."

A win at Hereford today would take them to within three points of the playoffs and they will fancy their chances facing a United side that have already lost eight home games and are only a point off the bottom of the table. They looked to be heading towards a rare win on home soil against Port Vale on Monday, leading 1-0 with just 12 minutes to play, but still found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Supporters of the home side are at a very low ebb, they feel the club budget has been wasted and they have a crop of young inexperienced players, some of whom are at the club only to get some experience and they lack any guidance or leadership on the pitch.In spite of which, I think I will leave this one, the odds seem just about right ,Stanley do not have the best record here and seem to lose their way halfway down the M6 motorway. Having said that, they are a team I want to keep on the right side of in early 2012, but a watching brief for me today.

Just as I was about to send this I saw that the Stanley odds have drifted out to 2.28 ( -0.25) from 1.96 overnight, that is increasingly tempting, but also a little worrying, as there is no real reason, at least team wise, a couple of knocks for Stanley and possible late tests, but all are expected to pass and another hugely experienced player in Ian Craney is now fit to join the squad..... pretty odd. I think I will stick with the original two selections.


These two clubs look to be heading in opposite directions at the moment. hosts have not won in six and lost their last three, Stanley have won their last three with an 8-1 goal difference and after another slow start to their capaign, which was understandable as they lost half a team and arguably their five strongest players in the off season. I say "another" slow start as last year as we entered November, Stanley had posted only three wins and were languishing in 18th place, they only lost another four over the rest of the season, made it into the playoffs and only lost out on an automatic promotion spot because of a few too many draws. John Coleman has done a terrific job to get his club up and running again and once more he has found some classy, albeit relatively cheap , footballers who play the game in the right way and can produce results, they are not a side I would rush to oppose in the coming months. They have a good record in this fixture, are unbeaten in four visits ( winning three) and three have come in either Christmas or New Year games between the near neighbours. I take them to get another result. Accrington Stanley +0.25 1.86 asian line.

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