Saturday’s League Two Best Bets

Andy

Mansfield Town v Northampton Town 

Saturday 2nd April – 3:00PM KO

It is the battle of the Town’s this weekend as Northampton Town take on Mansfield Town in a big game at the top end of League Two. 

The hosts go into the clash on the back of a 2-0 win at home to Hartlepool United last weekend thanks to goals from Sam Hoskins and Chanka Zimba and will be looking to make it back-to-back victories at Sixfields. Their boss, Jon Brady, said it was an “excellent” win and a “good” performance but wasn’t getting carried away with there still being plenty of work to do in order to get promoted. The Cobblers are currently 3rd in the league and are inside the automatic promotion by three points with seven games left to play of the season. In terms of injury news, Northampton are without defensive pair Tyler Magloire and Ali Koiki which weakens their backline and could play into Mansfield’s hands, with Jon Guthrie and Joe Mills stepping in over recent clashes. Their form over recent weeks has proven that they are capable of losing matches and they have only three times in their last eight, failing to beat relegation threatened sides like Scunthorpe United, Rochdale and Carlisle United in those games. 

Mansfield are well in the promotion race and will rise into the play-offs if they can win their games in hand. They drew 2-2 with Hartlepool United on Tuesday night and threw away a 2-0 lead in that one. Nevertheless, their manager, Nigel Clough, said they played “exceptionally well” bar the five minutes where their opponents scored twice. The Stags have been in decent form recently and are unbeaten in their last three, picking up two away wins at Rochdale and Oldham Athletic which will give them confidence they can go to Northampton and get something. Hibernian loan man Jamie Murphy has picked up an injury and will “probably” be out for this weekend according to his boss. This isn’t too much of a problem for Mansfield though as they have depth in attacking areas and are likely to call on Stephen McLaughlin in his position out wide after giving the experienced veteran a rest against the Pools last time out before bringing him on in the second-half. Mansfield are also sweating on the fitness of Newcastle United loanee Matty Longstaff, who has scored three goals since his winter switch, but have Ryan Stirk ready to step in again if he is unavailable. They have players who can hurt the Cobblers such as Jordan Bowery, Rhys Oates and Lucas Akins, but have also shown they can concede goals too by letting in two against Hartlepool. 

Prediction: Both Teams to Score, 1.90 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐)


Barrow v Port Vale

Saturday 2nd April – 3:00PM KO

Barrow have turned to former Premier League boss Phil Brown to replace the sacked Mark Cooper in a last gasp move to try and retain their Football League status. 

The Bluebirds’ new manager lost in his opening game at the helm last weekend away at Leyton Orient. Brown’s side are fully embroiled in the relegation battle in League Two right now and he says that they “don’t want to rely on anybody” as they look to stay up. The Cumbrian side are in a dismal run of form at the moment and have won just once in their last 10 league games, with their previous victory before their win at bottom of the table Scunthorpe United earlier this month coming on 1st February against Northampton Town. They have slipped down to 21st in the table and are only three points above the drop zone with eight matches left to play of the season. Their home form has been dire recently as they prepare to face in-form Port Vale this weekend and they haven’t won at Holker Street since beating Swindon Town back on 11th December, which was nine home outings ago. To make matters worse for Barrow, their small squad is being stretched at the moment and they could only name six substitutes on the bench against Orient in their last clash. 

Port Vale have received a big boost with manager Darrell Clarke poised to begin a “phased return” to the dugout following his bereavement leave. His assistant, Andy Crosby, has done a sterling job stepping in for him over the past month and picked up another win last time out against Sutton United. The Valiants won 2-0 thanks to goals from striking pair James Wilson and Jamie Proctor and Crosby says they will ”attack the rest of the games coming up” which could have the Barrow camp sweating because Port Vale are on a roll. They are unbeaten in their last five games, have lost just once in their last 15 and are currently sat in 4th position, three points off the automatic promotion places as they eye a place in League One for next term. They have a clean bill of health on the injury front bar winger Joel Cooper. The Northern Irishman, who is on loan from Oxford United, has missed the past couple of games with a knock but hasn’t really been missed as his side continue to pick up results. David Worrall plays every week in his position and is having another solid season in the white jersey, picking up four goals and five assists so far. 

Prediction: Port Vale to Win, 2.25 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐)


Forest Green Rovers v Scunthorpe United

Saturday 2nd April – 3:00PM KO

It’s top versus bottom in League Two this weekend as high-flying Forest Green Rovers take on lowly Scunthorpe United. 

This is the game that everyone connected with the Iron has been dreading all season as the highest scorers in the division play against the leakiest defence. Forest Green have their sights firmly set on promotion to League One and are sat top of the tree right now, four points above 2nd place Exeter City with a game in hand. They beat Colchester United 1-0 away on Monday night thanks to Matty Stevens’ early strike and their boss, Rob Edwards, said he was “delighted” with the performance. They have scored 66 goals this term in 37 games and have won 20 games, losing just five. In regards to team news, the Gloucestershire outfit have received a big boost with defender Udoka Godwin-Malife back from suspension which gives their manager something to think about with the versatile Dan Sweeney doing an impressive job in his place. Forest Green have the deadliest attack in the league and will scare the life out of Scunthorpe’s weak backline. Matty Stevens is the second top scorer in the league on 23 goals behind Newport County’s Dom Telford, whereas Jamille Matt is third on 17. 

Scunthorpe are slipping into non-league for the first time in their history. The Iron are rock bottom of the Football League and only a miracle will save them now, with them currently 10 points from safety with only 10 games left to play. They were battered 3-0 at home by Harrogate Town side who have absolutely nothing to play for last weekend and their manager Keith Hill, who has only won twice out of 26 games since replacing Neil Cox in November, said he was “frustrated and disappointed” again. The North Lincolnshire outfit have let in 71 goals in this campaign and have scored just 26, which makes them the lowest scorers in the league, with the main reason behind this being they sold their top scorer Ryan Loft to Bristol Rovers in January and replaced him with the inexperienced Sam Burns on loan from Blackburn Rovers. Scunthorpe haven’t won for nine games and have won just four times in 39 this season. They haven’t had much luck on the injury front either and are without defensive pair Lewis Thompson and Mason O’Malley at the moment, with George Taft and Ryan Delaney likely to be handed the challenge of dealing with Stevens and Matt. 

Prediction: Over 2.5 Goals, 1.73 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)


Tranmere Rovers v Carlisle United 

Saturday 2nd April – 3:00PM KO

Tranmere Rovers risk dropping out of the League Two play-offs if they don’t start picking up more wins. 

The Whites lost 1-0 away to Colchester United last time out and conceded a 95th minute goal to Junior Tchamadeu. Their boss, Micky Mellon, said the result was a real “sucker punch” to his side and it sees them clinging onto their place in the play-offs in 7th place by a thread with Mansfield Town breathing down their neck in 8th. Nevertheless, the Merseyside outfit will have confidence they can keep their push for promotion on track this weekend as they take on mid-table Carlisle United. Tranmere’s home form this season and has excellent and has been the key factor behind their strong league position. They have lost just twice on home soil in this campaign and they were against 1st place Forest Green Rovers and 3rd place Northampton Town. They have also received a big boost on the injury front ahead of this Saturday with key midfielder Jay Spearing back fit and ready for selection. Everton loan man Lewis Warrington has been taking his place over recent weeks and has done an impressive job, leading to the club’s chairman Mark Palios to express his interest in signing him permanently. 

Carlisle’s season has been turned around following the return of manager Paul Simpson last month. They were in a relegation battle under former boss Keith Millen but have clawed their way away from danger. The Cumbrians’ 2-0 loss to Rochdale on Tuesday night was their first defeat in eight games but may be a sign that they are taking their foot off the gas now with survival pretty much secured. They are sat in 18th place and are 12 points above the drop zone with seven games left to play. Simpson said they lacked any “real quality” going forward and that has been the story of the season for them. They have scored just 34 goals in 39 matches this term which is the joint-third worst return in the division alongside 23rd place Stevenage. The Cumbrians are missing key player and captain Callum Guy in central midfield due to injury and his replacement, Corey Whelan, lacks the same creativity which was evident against Rochdale as they failed to find the net. Tranmere need a result more with Mellon is under pressure to get one against Carlisle and not many teams have left Prenton Park with a result this year. 

Prediction: Tranmere to Win, 1.80 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)


Hartlepool United v Salford City 

Saturday 2nd April – 3:00PM KO

Hartlepool United don’t have much to play for now after a solid first season back in the Football League. 

The Pools don’t appear to be on the beach just yet though and fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with promotion chasing Mansfield Town in their last game on Tuesday night thanks to goals from Joe Grey and Luke Molyneux, the latter of whom is said to be attracting interest from clubs in League One and the Scottish Premiership. Their boss, Graeme Lee, said he was “satisfied” with the result with the Stags as he looks to carry on rallying his troops until the end of the season despite the fact motivation may be lacking. Hartlepool are leaking goals at the moment and have kept just once clean sheet in their last nine games. First choice goalkeeper Ben Killip returned between the sticks against Mansfield after missing the match before against through illness, however he was powerless to stop himself conceding twice in the space of four minutes which shows their defensive fragilities. Attacker Jordan Cook is out for the rest of the season but that isn’t really an issue for the North East as they have proven they can score goals this term, with January recruit Omar Bogle scoring four since joining and key man Molyneux bagging 12 so Salford City need to be on their guard this weekend. 

The Ammies are on a roll at the moment and are unbeaten in their last 10 league games. Gary Bowyer’s side won 2-1 at home to Crawley Town last weekend with goals from Brandon Thomas-Asante and Jordan Turnbull, with the latter saying after the game that they need to “keep picking up points”. The North West outfit have an outside shot of the play-offs if they carry on getting results with them currently four points off the top seven. Salford have received a boost in attack with forward Ian Henderson making his return to the bench on Tuesday night and he gives them more competition and depth in attacking areas. The veteran has scored 21 goals in 57 games for the club since signing for them in 2020 from Rochdale and is a proven goal scorer at League Two level. At the other end of the pitch, Hartlepool will be confident they can score themselves with Salford keeping just one clean sheet in their last seven matches. Their number one goalkeeper Tom King has been away on international duty so the club were forced to bring in Frank Fielding from Stoke City on an emergency. All that disruption to the team selection could come back to bite them. 

Prediction: Both Teams to Score, 1.85 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐)

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