Thankfully, the U’s responded positively to the shock of seeing Barry Corr demoted to the bench in midweek, running out comfortable 4-2 winners at Morecambe with a performance full of energy and verve, and it sets the tone nicely for the visit of Notts County this weekend. If it’s a sign of the general standard that’s going to be set, there’s tremendous value in backing Derry to get the better of former club at 2/1.
Derry’s first two matches both ended in defeat but a baptism doesn’t come much tougher than games against Oxford and Accrington, both of whom boast a shot ratio greater than 60 per cent. The win at the Globe Arena, however, was emphatic enough to believe that the U’s might yet get back into play-off contention with more of the same. They certainly have the resources, if Derry can manage the egos.
Notts had their own little epiphany in midweek, putting four goals past Barnet after switching from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 for the first time this season. The Meadow Lane crowd had longed to witness star strikers Izale McLeod and Jon Stead paired together in attack and they weren’t disappointed from an entertainment perspective as they ran out 4-2 winners against the Bees.
However, getting those two front men involved on the road might be a different matter altogether. The Magpies haven’t won away since the opening day and though my 16-match ratings have the market about right, there’s so much more room for improvement where Cambridge are concerned. My 24-match data, incorporating a fraction of last season’s data, tips the balance into favouritism for the hosts.
Moving up into League One, there’s decent value on Bury to end Millwall’s run of success on home soil. The Shakers are 37/10 to triumph at the New Den Derry and that’s a great price in light of their prior achievements in matches of this magnitude. David Flitcroft’s men love a big scalp, they’ve already beaten Wigan (twice), Walsall, Sheffield United, Coventry, Peterborough and Burton this season.
The Londoners are unbeaten in seven on home soil, winning six, but the opposition hasn’t been of the highest standard. Two of those wins have been against lower-division teams in the cup, while three of the remaining four - against Swindon, Doncaster and Colchester - have been against sides in a state of uncertainty, either side of a managerial dismissal.
Bury were beaten at home by Scunthorpe in midweek but, as one of the fittest sides in the division, they will welcome the quick turnaround and have enough brute strength in their ranks to avoid being intimidated by the surroundings and the manner in which Neil Harris likes to turn the hostile environment to his advantage. Knowing Flitcroft and his love of individual game strategy, this will be a mission that truly excites him.
Finally, take the 7/2 about Swindon following up a remarkable win over Walsall in midweek with maximum points at Chesterfield. The Robins were a tad fortunate to edge out the Saddlers with a late winner but it all breeds confidence and an enforced change of system at the Proact Stadium - from a back three to a back four - might just be the platform for improvement on the road.
By Martin Ling’s own admission, standards haven’t been good enough in his first two away games at Rochdale (1-3) and Fleetwood (1-5) but the players have responded well to his appointment and they catch the Spireites at a low ebb, on the back of three straight defeats, conceding eight goals in the process.