Newport Eastbourne 1 (2.63 @Skybet) 5 units
I agree with Newport fans about this being the best possible time to play Eastbourne who aren't title candidates anymore (well how could they be with only one win, two draws and three defeats in the last six matches) Lewes managed to beat Fisher on Wednesday and now they have four points more, but with three matches left (Eastbourne only have two) first one being Dorchester at home. The only team that could put Eastbourne's 2nd spot in jeopardy is 3rd Hampton, but Hampton should win all three remaining matches to do that and it would be hard, they have some tough matches left. But, even if Eastbourne lose their two remaining matches (at Newport and Braintree) and Hampton win all three and Eastbourne end up 3rd, no harm done really the play-off final isn't being played at the team that's ranked highest, but on neutral grounds, at one of the Conference National teams.
Eastbourne's fall began a month ago, when they lost 1:2 at home to Bromley and 0:1 away at poor Welling. After that they only managed to share points (2:2) at poor Weston (then lose 2:3 at mid-table Thurrock, finally win 2:1 away at poor Weston and then again only share points in a boring 0:0 draw at home vs Bath), but something much more important and much worse happened in that first Weston match three weeks ago an incredible bunch of injuries for Eastbourne players (and, as it happened two days before the transfer deadline, they only managed to bring in a couple of kids from much lower non-leagues, to fill up the bench I guess). They had five players out injured last Saturday and another three suspended only defender Jenkins now returns after suspension, but their best three scorers are still out (Atkin who scored 20 is suspended, Ramsay who scored 13 is out injured untill the end of the season and Tait who scored only couple of goals this season, although he scored 14 last season, is injured very often this season and is now injured again), midfielders Kember and Smart are both injured, standard defenders Austin (suspended) and Pullan (injured) are also both out... Some of these guys maybe could return, still no word on the e-street, but I wouldn't risk players' health if they're not 100% fit if I were their manager after all, they are in the play-off's and it would be stupid to lose a player for the three most important matches of the season (two semi-final matches and a single final match) just because of some regular away match at very determined play-off candidates that can't change much on the league table from Eastbourne's point of view. They are where they are. The title is lost, next goal: winning the play-off's.
But, from Newport's point of view, this is the most important match of the season. If they win this, they become the creators of their own destiny. They don't have to rely on other teams dropping points, they just have to win their next two home matches against very beatable opponents and they'll be in the play-off's. Their 2:0 away win at Cambridge this Tuesday was a great morale booster, I just saw the match highlights, plenty of possession for Newport, very determined, no risks, a lot of chances, it was also their second clean sheet in a row and I can see them keeping another clean sheet against Eastbourne. Gurney and Griffin had a great match upfront at Cambridge, both scored and they have to score again if they want a play-off spot. Newport played great in their last two home matches (btw, it won't be a short trip for Eastbourne and some of the away fans won't bother coming after that Lewes win on Wednesday), they've beat Bromley 3:1 week and a half ago and lost 0:1 to Havant a week ago, but only thanx to an unlucky own's goal in the 1st half. I saw both match highlights and that gives me extra confidence here it was one of those days when they played Havant, could've easily won 4:0, had an enormous bunch of great chances. They, unlike Eastbourne, welcomed back a couple of very important players after their injuries recently they only have one injury doubt for this match and now when their creative midfielder Gurney, the best Newport's signing in ages, is back Fowler's injury is not that big of a deal. Newport's season was great, they're the winners of the Welsh FA Cup after beating Swansea, Cardiff and finally Llanelli in the final match, but the season could get even better. If they manage to beat Eastbourne, the play-off spot is theirs to keep and they have what it takes, they're all very experienced and strong players, they will have a great home support and play against demotivated out-of-form ex-title candidates who have three defeats and only one win in the last six. The odds? Well, Newport should be favorites here, not the other way around... Btw, these two teams played at Newport in April last season too, it was 4:0 for Newport...
(2.50 at Sportingbet, BetFred, BoyleSports and Bwin, 2.46 at 10Bet, 2.45 at Expekt, 2.40 at Blue Square, 888Sport, Betway, Stanleybet...)
Vauxhall Hinckley 2 (1.80 @StanJames) 4 units
Vauxhall are already relegated, they're 21st and have 13 points less than 19th Hinckley who will be safe if they win. It's not just a 'motivation' thing, Hinckley have been playing very well recently, but of course, I wouldn't be surprised with a big away win, even 20th Hucknall got a 3:0 win away at Vauxhall two weeks ago. Okay, first things first. Vauxhall will be without two suspended players, midfielder Egerton and very important forward Heler who created the most chances for his team in the last couple of matches. They also have some injury problems, two standard defenders picked up injuries during the last week's match and I'm sure their manager won't be forcing them and risking their health in a situation like this. Vauxhall have six defeats and a draw away at extremely unmotivated Tamworth in the last seven so they haven't been doomed from the start, they had their chances against fellow strugglers and even mid-table teams that have nothing to play for, blew them all. Their goal-difference in the last 9 matches is 3:24 (Heler scored two of those and assisted for the third) and at home it's 1:13 in the last four. The lowest home crowd in the league will be even lower this time not much of an atmosphere there, I really wouldn't be surprised with a bih handicap defeat.
Hinckley have been great lately and they will fully deserve their mathematical safety if they beat Vauxhall. They had some great results lately, both away (3:1 at fellow strugglers Blyth, 1:1 at promotion candidates Harrogate who barely managed to equalise in the 80th minute) and home (four wins in a row) and this is the last task. They can't count on three easy points in the last match of the season, that's Alfreton away next Saturday and these guys brought in a couple of good players before the transfer deadline and already started to think about next season. This is a lot easier option, I know they know it. They did suffer some injury blows in the last couple of weeks, that's why I didn't bet on them against Hyde, but not only that they managed to beat Hyde (who are a bit unmotivated, just like Vauxhall, but they have a bunch of quality players in their team), but also Tamworth, with a handicap, only two days later. Their best scorer Webster is in great form, he scored 8 goals in the last 9 matches and I expect them to show the same 'hunger and will to win' as they did against Tamworth, get these three points and confirm their safety.
(1.80 also at Bet365, BetDirect, BetFred, Better, Betway, BoyleSports, Expekt, Paddy Power, Primebet, Skybet, Stanleybet...)
Hayes & Yeading Cambridge OVER 3.5 (2.87 @Blue Square) 4 units
Hayes (13th) and Cambridge (14th) are the two teams that are stuck in the middle of the table, can't get promoted nor relegated, but as both teams like to play open, attractive football that produces a lot of goals and there are rumours about Cambridge being demoted next season because they didn't achieve a Ground B rating by the deadline, OVER 3.5 at odds as high as these looks like a very good option.
Let's look at Hayes' home matches in February, March and April first, okay? 3:1 vs Havant, 6:1 vs Bromley, only 3:0 vs Bath (the most 'under' team in the league), 1:3 vs Newport, 2:2 vs Bishop's Stortford and finally, two weeks ago, 3:3 vs Braintree (who are another 'under team' most of the time). Hayes scored 37 goals in 19 home matches not many teams scored more. But, they also conceded 32, almost four times more than Bath. They've been scoring and conceding a bit less away from home lately, but the weather took it's toll in the couple of matches. Take a look at the Dorchester Hayes match highlights for example, the match ended 1:0 for Dorchester, but Hayes had about ten shots on goal, all good chances, somehow failed to score. Ten very good opportunities are really a minimum for them, especially when they're playing at home. Of course, their defence also wanders off from time to time at Dorchester they also could've conceded a few goals more. I wrote a lot about their open, attacking, attractive football when they're playing at home against a team that's not an extreme 'under' team like Bath or Havant and the odds are 2.87, it's always good to bet on OVER 3.5. One other thing Hayes are on a boring winless streak, lost three and shared points three times in the last six. Knight, Palmer, Ledgister and the others should do the job upfront, if nothing else to thank their fans this was the first season for the newly merged Hayes & Yeading and they did alright, stayed in the league for start. This time Hayes will be without as much as three suspended players, Collins, Hendry and Fayed, and that could also help us with this bet. Collins is a standard defender, unreplaceable lately, so their bad defence just got even worse. Other two suspensions aren't that important, but Collins' is. Hendry is a midfielder, he's not that unreplaceable, sometimes sits on a bench if he will be missed, we'll probably see more action from the flanks and that's not bad for this bet at all. Fayed is a reserve player who won't be missed.
Cambridge conceded 37 goals in 19 away matches only a couple of teams conceded more. It was only 0:2 at Bath two weeks ago, but as I said, 'under' is always the most probable outcome when Bath plays a match. Before that, it was 1:3 at Bromley and 2:5 at Thurrock. They had lots of other big OVER's away from home in 2008 2:3 at Dorchester, 1:4 at Newport, 6:2 at Welling... After that Bath match, Cambridge played at home against Weston won 5:1, amazing match. Sheringham, 'the son of Teddie', scored a hat-trick in his first start for Cambridge and Simpson added two goals of his own. And, of course, let's not forget Cambridge's best scorer Gash, 3rd best scorer of the league (23 goals so far). All three have played for Cambridge this Tuesday against Newport, at home. Didn't help, but Newport is a different category, we can't compare their defence with Hayes' defence, that would be silly. Cambridge had some nice chances against Newport and that's good enough I'll say it again, Newport's experienced defence is very hard to break. It ended 2:0 for the play-off candidates, Newport, but this will be a different story. Cambridge could be a bit distracted because of the 'Ground rating' affair, but that leaves a lot of space for Hayes' attacks and, after all, Cambridge's manager is trying to rebuild the squad for next season, mistakes are understandable. It's Palmer & Knight against Gash & Simpson feat. 'the sone of Teddy' Sheringham. Hayes & Yeading who could really use a win and an attractive match to put the smile on their fans' faces against Cambridge who are maybe not safe in the mid-table after all, maybe they'll be demoted, that's a shocker, right? I think we'll see goals here...
(2.88 also at 888Sport, 2.69 at Stanleybet, 1.96 at Pinnacle for OVER 2.75...)
CONF NORTH/RYMAN DOUBLE: Barrow Tamworth 1 @1.60 & Wimbledon Harlow 1 @1.55 (2.48 @Sportingbet) 4 units
Enough is said about Barrow I think, at least as far as I'm concerned. They were down in relegation zone half a year ago and look at them now, they're in the play-off zone and have two home matches left both against mid-table teams low on motivation. Barrow have 11 wins and 4 draws in the last 15 matches how wouldn't they be in the play-off zone with that kind of form. This is another must-win, but pressure just can't get to these guys the whole town is buzzing, there are no injury problems and that 5:0 win at Redditch showed everybody what happens when Barrow plays against an unmotivated team. Barrow have five wins and two draws in the last seven home matches it was 1:1 against struggling Blyth back in February and 1:1 a couple of days against champions Kettering who announced that they will continue to play for points even though they're already promoted. Tamworth will be a much easier task they just lost 0:2 away at struggling Hinckley and before that, they only managed to share points away at already relegated Leigh RMI and at home against another mid-table team that can neither get promoted nor relegated, Boston. They had a bunch of defeats and draws against poor, unmotivated teams lately and Barrow could easily eat them for breakfast and win by a big handicap if they score early. But, I'd be just as happy with a 1:0 win. Tamworth are one of the worst away teams in the league, 4-5-10, conceded 36 goals in 19 away matches only those two already relegated teams and the biggest relegation candidates conceded more. Barrow, on the other hand, don't concede much at home, only 18 in 19 matches and I wouldn't be surprised with another clean sheet. Barrow conceded only two goals in the last 8 matches. Tamworth were apparently horrible at Hinckley and now they will also miss their standard defender McAughtrie due to suspension. A couple of injury problems as well, I don't think their manager is going to risk it at this stage btw he usually makes at least a couple of changes in the starting line-up lately, sometimes because of injuries and sometimes because some players obviously don't want to stay at Tamworth next season and show nothing on the pitch.
Harlow are 14th, they are pretty close to the relegation zone, but things aren't looking bad for them they have the best goal-difference amongst all the relegation threatened teams by far, they will play at home against East Thurrock (who have one foot in the grave and if they don't beat Ashford which I can't see them doing, they'll be relegated) next Saturday and some of the teams below them have to play against each other. They'll be alright, even a point against East Thurrock will leave them safe, maybe even that won't be necessary. They did what it takes to stay in the league in March, even won at out-of-form Horsham in April, but last Saturday they lost at home to Staines and Wimbledon will have an easier task they'll be playing at home infront of thousands of fans who really want a play-off final match at home. That's a very important part of the story Staines have two points less, but one match more to play and Wimbledon can't do nothing else but winning these last two regular matches, at home against Harlow and away at Hornchurch. That last match will be much harder than this one, but I think they have a good chance for a 2nd spot and a home advantage in the eventual play-off finals because Staines are now playing against play-off candidates Hendon and then on Tuesday their 3rd match in seven days, away at struggling Boreham Wood. Billericay away from home next Saturday is also a tough match for Staines. When Wimbledon lost their away match at Chelmsford in March, it became obvious that Chelmsford are the new champions after that, Wimbledon's manager tried out a couple of players who weren't standard in the next couple of matches, Wimbledon lost another couple of points because of that, but then they finally realised that they have something to play for that 2nd spot, that play-off final match at home. Their last home match was a stubborn 2:1 win against traditionally tough Billericay and last Saturday they won 4:1 away at 5th Ashford who are playing great lately. They have a much better team than Harlow and a long bench this time Shroot scored a hat-trick (after scoring a late winner against Billericay) and John Main played his first three minutes after a bad injury. Wimbledon finally had a whole week without a match, made a trip to Wembley and played a friendly there on Sunday instead it did them good mentally and they will welcome even more players who were injured for this match. I'd lie when I would say that I don't expect a strong handicap win here. Only Chelmsford conceded less than Wimbledon at home and Harlow don't score much on the road only 23 in 20 matches. It was 3:1 for Wimbledon away at Harlow back in October.
(2.47 at Stanleybet, 2.46 at StanJames and Skybet, 2.40 at Gamebookers, Bet365 and PartyBets...)
FT 2:0 / 1:2