Since writing these notes early morning, Fleetwood have been backed in a quarter ball, but you might still find the preview of interest and as usual, there is content that might help you target a future winner in any case.
TUESDAY JANAUARY 10TH
TUESDAY JANAUARY 10TH
Steve Striker won the Hyundai overnight, so obviously landed our Top 4 bet, looking at the Monday selections, Jonathan Byrd beat Striker to secure a small profit and there was money to be made on the Arsenal-Leeds United game if you followed the trading hint, with the Gunners securing a 13th win of the season by the minimum margin, courtesy of a late Thierry Henry goal.
Going to start today in the Conference National and the match between Fleetwood town and AFC Barrow. We have covered Fleet many times in recent seasons, most recently on New Year's Day ( see below) and they have rarely let us down, they put six unanswered goals past Southport on that day, but were themselves on the wrong end of a "beating", losing their third round cup tie to local rivals Blackpool 5-1 on saturday. However, there was a big difference between the two defeated teams and there were a lot of positives for Town to take out of their defeat, the first half was very even, but the visitors were very clinical in front of goal and rememebr, they were in the EPL last season, whereas Fleet were in the tenth ( !) tier of english football just 12 seasons ago and have a favourite's chance of playing in the Football League next season.
This is all down to their financial clout and despite lying in second and with a huge squad, which I touched upon in the earlier post, they have already started to invest most of the money from the FA Cup campaign, yesterday they added influential midfieder Lee Fowler from league leaders Wrexham, the 12 times Wales U21 International is hugely experienced and will slot into what is now the best midfield unit in the division. They are also said to be adding Andre Bouchard from York City, these two clubs are probably two of the only three real rivals to Fleetwood for the automatic promotion spot and to sign key players from direct rivals at this stage of the campaign is virtually unheard of, but when Town go after a player they get him and are clearly going to spend whatever is needed to secure that FL place. I also heard that they turned down a circa £1m offer for Jamie Vardy last week, in the current climate, what other non league club would refuse a bid like that ? Or in any climate for that matter !
They will be looking to bounce back today, although to be honest, there is not much to bounce back from and three points would take them to the top of the table. They will also have a little revenge on their minds, Fleet have lost only three games this season and all came early season ( they are unbeaten in three months), including a 4-0 loss in the reverse fixture. That match was lost in the opening 45 minutes and was a big wake up call to Town, who had not conceded a league goal before that debacle.
Barrow arrive in a comfortable midtable position, but have been helped by a nice run of fixtures, they have a tough sequence of games on the horizon starting today and they are very much a "home" team, Holker Street is a tough and at times, intimidating venue and they have posted nine wins there ( only Wrexham have more), but just three on their travels, losing eight. They are short of numbers and whilst they can put out a starting eleven the bench has been thin to say the least recently, on saturday it included three defenders ( one of whom is playing out his contract and unhappy and another with little first tean experience) and also a 43 year old ! They have had to release a couple of key players and are looking to replace them, I understand that they signed a youngster from Burnley yesterday, this has not been officially confirmed, but it pales alongside the transfer news from Fleetwood and the hosts should win this with a degree of comfort. Fleetwood Town -1 ball 2.0 asian line.
Elsewhere I am keen on Yeovil Town making the tough trip to Sheffield United getting a huge handicap start. The Glovers are in the drop zone, but incredibly have not lost on the road in over three months, that is eight matches in all competitions and they have not been behind at any stage in the last five. Their home form has been poor of course, this happens sometimes ( Brentford !) and teams play better away from the pressure of their own stadium. Anyhow, this has led to a managerial change, with Gary Johnson returning to the club and former boss Terry Skiverton moving down to the number two position, it is a sign of the respect that Johnson has at the club that Skiverton would agree to that, the pair have worked together for many years previously and I feel that this switch might just keep Town in the third tier. This was only announced yesterday, but was I understand agreed last week and the pair have already been making plans and looking to bring back the success they enjoyed previously at Huish Park ( two championships in three seasons). They have been busy this week extending the loan of Tottenham striker Jonathan Obika until the end of the season and signing Ryan Dickson (pictured above, albeit not in the "classic" Bees shirt) on an initial one month deal from Southampton, this is exceptional business. Dickson is a player I know very well, despite things not working out for him so far at St Mary's he is without doubt one of the top left backs in lower league football and it is a real coup to get him. Town have had a week to rest since their last game and will travel fresh and keen to mark the return of Johnson with a positive result, United are very strong at home, but rarely thump anyone and have developed a potentially nasty habit of conceding too freely at home (15 in their last 12 starts) and that is going to catch them out sooner or later. I would not be surprised to see the points shared and have seen 26.0 quoted for a 2-2 draw and might "throw away" a couple of euros on that, or on the 5.0 for Town to score two or more, something they have done in three of their last six road starts, but let's keep things simple .... Yeovil Town +1.25 ball 2.03 asian line.
CONFERENCE NATIONAL :
SOUTHPORT - FLEETWOOD TOWN ( written 01/01)
These are the return fixtures of matches played on Boxing Day. These two played out an incident packed 2-2 draw at Highbury Stadium, where Town forced a late equaliser courtesy of the prolific Richard Brodie, despite playing 35 minutes with ten men, after Jamie McGuire was sent off, he is suspended for today's fixture. That would be a significant loss for most teams, but Fleet are a very well financed club and have an incredible 33 registered players, including former Manchester United player Danny Rose, who signed earlier this week, choosing Town ahead of Crystal Palace who were very interested in him, Rose goes straight into the squad and is a direct replacement for McGuire. Back in their BSS days we talked about Fleetwood and how they had funds that other clubs could only dream about, planning a £5m stadium upgrade and £250k on improving the playing surface, to say nothing on the investment in players. They have a dream FA Cup tie against Blackpool next week, who are the nearest "big" club and the one manager Micky Mellon made his name as a player at, so that will be a distraction of sorts and enough for me to scale down my stakes slightly, but it is promotion to the Football League that is the target this season and to those ends, this game is MASSIVE. Three points would keep them, at worse, within two of leaders Wrexham and effectively take Southport and the rest of the chasing pack out of the equation ( 9 points and a game in hand), at least for the time being.
Town missed out on promotion in the playoffs last season, losing to AFC Wimbledon in the semi-finals and are, as you might expect, keen to avoid that lottery this time round. They are more comfortable on the road, having already posted ten wins away from Highbury, in addition to a second round FA Cup win at League 1 side Yeovil Town and have actually won 9 of their last ten ( one draw) away starts in the Conference. In all league starts, home and away, they have averaged 2.5 goals per game and it is hardly surprising given their financial clout, as they can attract players like Brodie for whom they paid a significant five figure sum, just to take on a season long loan deal. Most of the others have either huge Football League experience or know how to get out of the Conference and all that knowledge makes for a very well balanced squad, which should go close to claiming the title. They are also full time and especially at this time of year, that gives them an advantage over part time squads like Southport, who were forced to fit in a Thursday night training session, the only time the players met inbetween the two matches. Fleetwood dominated the second half on Monday even with ten men and I expect them to come out on top today. 1.5 units Fleetwood Town -0.25 ball 2.05 asian line.