League Two Midweek Tips: Back Crawley at home



Crawley should continue to crow over home form

Crawley 6/42.5 v Tranmere 11/53.2; the draw 5/23.5
Kick-off, 18:30

Crawley battled away well to secure a point at Salford. A third strike of the season from captain George Francomb, a defender, shows that John Yems does not have to rely on his frontmen to score, having lost strong attackers in the summer.

Max Watters has proved a great recent addition, scoring three times in two games before Saturday, while Yems would love Tom Nichols to be as prolific as he once was with Exeter, where he scored a goal for every other start. At 27, the striker should be at his physical peak.

Jake Hessenthaler seems to be doing a great job in midfield, too, although Sam Matthews won more of the plaudits at Salford.

One thing is for sure, the Red Devils will have to dig in to keep their long unbeaten home record intact once more against Tranmere, but they are very capable of doing so. Yems had them flowing at the Broadfield from January onwards, fearing nobody, and Opta state their 12-game run goes back to November last year.

TOWIE’s Mark Wright, training with the Sussex side to keep fit, seems nonplussed about signing although Yems mentioned it as a possibility. It’s a distraction that has given the Devils a little extra media attention.

The best result Rovers have achieved away is a draw. Mike Jackson’s side defeated hapless Southend on Saturday, after the manager made two swift substitutions to change tactics, Calum MacDonald and Sam Smith seemingly making the difference.

James Vaughan has netted three goals in his five games and much is expected of the former Bradford striker. However I think the hosts should be able to gain another three points.

Exeter have abilities to overcome problems

Leyton Orient 11/53.2 v Exeter 6/42.5; the draw 5/23.5
Kick-off, 19:00

Matt Taylor‘s men have the perfect opportunity to prove their promotion credentials after a somewhat hollow victory against Scunthorpe. The Iron were without six key staff – including the manager – for their 3-1 defeat at St James’s park because of Covid-19. Three absences is enough to call off a game for international call-ups.

The Grecians still had to beat what was in front of them, of course. Jake Taylor sealed a fantastic week, having scored in the win against Crawley a week ago, got married the next day, then scored the last goal.

Joel Randall continues to show good form, while Harry Kite was solid in making what he hopes will be the first of many appearances. The visitors, who will take Covid-19 tests after facing Scunthorpe, could also have to sign a goalkeeper on emergency loan after Lewis Ward finished the game despite turning his ankle.

Nigel Atangana, Rory McArdle, Lewis Page and Jonny Maxted are also injured. With 14 points from their last six games, however, Taylor’s men have shown they can cope with a few setbacks. That puts them second in the six-game form table, which seems a good launchpad to turn away draws (three have three from four) into wins.

In all but two of eight League Two games they have scored twice or more, which puts Orient’s oft-praised goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux under some pressure, especially if Exeter striker Ryan Bowman can find his best form. He has kept clean sheets in the past two matches, at mid-table Tranmere and against struggling Stevenage.

Jordan Magure-Drew and Conor Wilkinson have scored twice each in the past three games, and Danny Johnson has netted three times in recent matches. But boss Ross Embleton is aware that his side are not the “finished article”. Exeter fans expect their team to be exactly that and to finish the job of gaining promotion this season. They haven’t kept clean sheets in consecutive games away since January, state Opta, but they might have to for victory.

Patience key as in-form pair can draw

Walsall 8/52.6 v Cambridge 2/13.0; the draw 12/53.4
Kick-off, 19:00

In two of their three away games this season, Cambridge have won 5-0. That hardly seems likely at Walsall, but nor does a 2-0 reverse, which was the result of their other away game, at Exeter.

Fans surveyed by one media outlet this week felt that Walsall give away one really decent chance a game and get punished for it and were frustrated by only two points from their past two games.

A lack of composure, or perhaps quality, in the final third was perceived. And they were glad that manager Darrell Clarke was forced to dispose of the 3-5-2 formation early in the draw at Barrow.

Attacking midfielder Rory Holden suffered an injury on Saturday, when Caolan Lavery scored twice. The manager would love Elijah Adebayo to score more frequently – and for the Saddlers to turn the wins into draws. He would be satisfied to keep the unbeaten run going as long as victories come.

However, he might have to wait until the weekend, because Cambridge are showing much more resilience than last season, under Mark Bonner. Even without Wes Hoolahan in the past two matches, they have secured a win against Port Vale and a draw with Bolton.

Bonner says his side shouldn’t be too despondent with a point against the pre-season favourites, taking their tally to seven in a week. He shouldn’t be down if his side takes “only” another at Walsall, whose trajectory north in the table is one to watch. Opta say Cambridge have never won in the Football League at Walsall (drawing once) while Walsall have not lost in seven at home (drawing three).

Adams family and Carlisle can create goals

Carlisle 4/51.82 v Morecambe 4/15.0; the draw 3/14.0
Kick-off, 19:00

Derek Adams explained how he adapted his usual 4-2-3-1 formation to counter Forest Green on Saturday – and it almost worked. The Shrimps scored early and the visitors had to fight back against a side adapting to their attacking threats. His preparations, if executed, will surely earn the Shrimps many points this season.

AJ Leitch-Smith netted his first goal on his first appearance of the season, a huge positive for his team and manager, but one mistake (not holding off Jamille Matt) cost them dear.

They certainly have much more resilience under the former Plymouth boss. Adam Phillips has scored four times and Aaron Wildig keeps popping up on highlights shows as a nuisance to his opponents.

However, they have one point from three games and have fallen from top perch to 11th within a couple of weeks as a result. Such is the roly-poly nature of the division. Three away wins, at Cheltenham, Southend and Oldham, are not to be sniffed at. But the latter two opponents are not in good form.

Carlisle, likewise, have just taken the shine off an impressive start, drawing the last two – at Oldham and Grimsby. They will relish a return to Brunton Park, perhaps, where they have won all three games, scored six and conceded two, meaning a 2-1 average win. Colchester were their latest victims there as Chris Beech‘s men have climbed into the top seven.

Jon Mellish, who netted in three straight games, received rave reviews after that victory, but hasn’t scored since. Another goal would be welcome here.

Carlisle might well win a fifth straight game at home, last achieved in January 2019 state Opta. But combine the hosts’ goals return at home and the fact that their away games have featured 15 goals, it seems only right to think that over 2.5 goals is the bet at 21/202.04.