Football specialist Tom Love (@TomLove_18) has examined this weekend's League Two action and delivered us with his best bets.
- 2019/2020 Season Profit & Loss: +30.25pts
Salford v Cambridge
Salford were priced up as a top 3 side in the antepost markets and I for one couldn't believe it. I'm not sure whether the bookies we're pricing them up so short because of the media attention they get for being part owned by the class of '92 or what, but it just seemed a strange price considering they were in the national league last season and only came up via the play-offs.
Anyway, they've started how I'd of imagined with a W3, D5, L4 record and currently sit in 17th place. Adam Rooney was one of the favourites for top scorer too and he's underwhelmed, scoring just 1 goal so far this campaign. I'd imagine they'll improve a bit and probably end mid-table but I'm happy to get against them again as Cambridge visit the Peninsula Stadium.
Cambridge gave a fresh contract to gaffer Colin Calderwood recently and they have probably done better than most would've expected this season. The Amber army haven't been over-enamoured with Calderwood and his new deal met with a slight degree of pessimism and it is understandable because their home record is poor. However, when the pressure is off away from home they've revelled. The U's have a W3, D2, L1 record on the road and have avoided defeat at well fancied trio Mansfield, Crewe and Bradford.
Calderwood has seen his side improve on the underlying data too, they are play-off standard on the average expected goals ratio whereas Salford are pretty average. The Ammies are facing the second most amount of shots just behind Morecambe and if Cambridge bring their shooting boots they should score a couple.
They've lost just one of their last five and earlier in the week we could get some 4/5 on Cambridge to avoid defeat, unfortunately that's been snaffled up but we can still get almost even-money on the visitors with a +0.25 start on the asian handicap and that appeals. It would've returned profit in 5/6 Cambridge away games as well as 9/12 Salford games conversely.
Morecambe v Bradford City
As a Bradford fan I'm generally loathed to put up any pro City bet, however there's one I can't ignore this weekend. In fairness it's not a bet based massively around the Bantams, it's more of an anti-Morecambe selection more than anything.
Jim Bentley has done admirable work at his beloved Morecambe for years now, the fact he's steered the Shrimps comfortably away from relegation, season after season is a huge credit to him given the tight finances at the club. They usually start like a house on fire which gives them an instant buffer to the drop zone but this season they have began the campaign in desperate form. Fortunately for them only one team will go down from league 2 this season due to the Bury situation but there's a real chance they will be in a battle to avoid rock bottom.
It's defensively where the problems lie for the Fylde coast outfit, they've conceded 24 goals so far this season, an average of 2 a game and that's comfortably the worst in the division. They've shipped 2 or more goals in 10 of their last 11 games and it's therefore no surprise that they've failed to win in their last 11 (W0, D2, L9). What's more, Bentley's boys have shipped 3 or more in 7/11. Porous.
Bradford on the other hand are showing greater consistency after a mixed start to the season. Gary Bowyer didn't really get the majority of his business done until the latter stages of the transfer window but late signings Dylan Connolly, Harry Pritchard and Callum Cooke are now up to speed and all are impressing. The Bantams put together their most complete performance last week as they deservedly beat Swindon 2-1 at Valley Parade, even without key men Ben Richards-Everton and James Vaughan both of whom we're suspended.
Zeli Ismail once again startled on the right wing and even though he's only managing an hour or so he can be a huge difference maker in the final third of the pitch. Defensively the West Yorkshire side have been impressive too with Paudie O'Connor being nominated for league player of the month and Connor Wood improving game by game at left-back.
I did warn followers on twitter that the 11/10 that was available on the Bradford win wouldn't last, they're now odds-on across the board but I think the 10/11 on the away side notching over 1.5 goals simply has to be a bet. As mentioned, this would've landed in a massive 10 of Morecambe's last 11 games and Bradford have scored 2+ in 4 of their last 6 league games. Competition is heating up and Vaughan is back from suspension to add even more goal threat, Shay McCartan is also pushing for a start after notching the winner on Saturday. The data is backing up the results for City too and they have enough to get a few past a poor Morecambe side.
Macclesfield v Port Vale
There's a good vibe back at Vale Park this season with much maligned owner Norman Smurthwaite making way for local couple Karen and Kevin Shanahan. Even though the new owners have come in, they're not willing to spend their means which is obviously a sensible approach but the mood has been uplifted and they could go for a play off push this season.
Tom Pope is a stalwart of this Vale side and will cause headaches for all defences with his physicality. The ammunition comes largely from Adam Crookes and David Worrall out wide and the trio of Worrall, Pope and Luke Joyce we're superb in the 3-1 win over Morecambe last week.
They've had a relatively mixed start to the season but a W2, D2, L1 record in their last 5 is decent enough going. The Valiants have lost just 3 of their 12 games this season and I think they can at least get a point as they make the short trip north to take on an out of form Macclesfield.
Macc have struggled since Sol Campbell left the club, there's still off the field issues at Moss Rose with players and staff not getting paid and it's starting to be detrimental to results on the pitch. The Silkmen are without a win in 7 and clearly are gettable.
They're losing the xG battle on average 1.5-1.1, Vale on the other hand have a positive xG ratio so the difference in quality chances created and conceded are there for all to see. Confidence must be low for the home side but I do want to get the draw onside since 10 of the pairs' collective 24 games have ended in a stalemate.
Therefore I'll back the visitors off a scratch 0 start on the asian handicap at 41/50 with Unibet. This bet effectively works in the same way as the draw no bet market but is a slightly better price. Should Port Vale win we take a full profit but if it ends in a draw then we get our stakes back which looks fair.