Opportunity knocks for Mansfield to cement their position in the top seven of League Two.
Orient travel to Scunthorpe on Tuesday night after playing out a goalless draw with the Iron last Saturday. The prize for winning that match now, it turns out, is a trip to Stamford Bridge, which would obviously be a massive deal for Ian Hendon’s men. Therefore, opportunity knocks for Mansfield to cement their position in the top seven by beating the team immediately below them, in doing so landing their first scalp of the season against top-half opposition.
The Stags are 17/10 to pick up maximum points when shot data suggests they should be odds-on. There’s obviously more to the prices than simply keeping count of respective attempts on goal and Mansfield’s clean sweep of nine wins against the current bottom nine goes some way towards explaining their lofty position but Adam Murray is acutely aware of the distribution of results and is viewing this as a moment of truth for his troops.
In fairness, the O’s aren't much different. Six of their eight wins have come against the same makeweights and their record against top-half opposition comprises of just one win in nine attempts. So ultimately, there’s very little being made of home advantage and the fact that Mansfield have enjoyed two weeks to recharge. It’s with those factors where the value lies.
Either way, they shouldn’t be beating Crawley on recent evidence. The Red Devils have come on in leaps and bounds since late September, once manager Mark Yates had completed his recruitment drive via the loan market. The sharp upturn in performances hasn’t fully translated into their league position just yet but Crawley were a 39.6 per cent shot ratio team over their first nine outings, yet have averaged 51.5 per cent in 11 outings since.
A fortnight break should enable them to get back-to-back defeats against Northampton and Carlisle out of their system and odds of 5/4 shouldn’t be sniffed at when facing a team that averages just 0.65 points per game. Daggers are dreadful. They’ve won just one of their last 14 league matches and their shot ratio is just 39.3 per cent.
Indeed, the Robins might have sealed their fate for this game early in the second half of that one. Nathan Baker’s dismissal for a second yellow card means he serves a one-match ban here, which leaves the visitors short on quality defensively. They’ve suffered defeat six times in eight matches without the on-loan Aston Villa man. With him, they avoided defeat in eight matches out of 12.
Steve Cotterill is calling for his players to stay true to their principles of playing possession football and be brave with their passing, particularly in getting past the first line of the Huddersfield press, but it could easily be a recipe for disaster with the home side warming to their new philosophy and benefiting from a another blank midweek to recuperate.
The treble pays over 12/1 with several firms.