Fleetwood v Walsall

Jon Whitney has made an instant impact at Walsall, reviving the Saddlers’ automatic promotion hopes with a 4-1 demolition of Chesterfield, and it’s easy to understand why. His infectious positivity and sense of opportunity provides the perfect antidote to the dour and restrictive outlook of Sean O’Driscoll, but it might not prevent the Saddlers from being turned over at Fleetwood.

The market makes Walsall favourites by around 0.15 goals here but my ratings are having none of it. The Cod Army should be at least quarter ball favourites, the verdict is the same on both 16-match and 24-match samples, and no matter how much Whitney has changed the mood around the Banks’s Stadium, a discrepancy of around 0.4 goals is just too big to be ignored.

It’s true that Fleetwood don’t always do their performances justice in terms of results - no team with a shot ratio of greater than 50 per cent should ever be fighting relegation at this advanced stage - but home wins over Burton, Gillingham and Millwall prove what a tough venue Highbury Stadium is for the bigger teams to negotiate and odds of 2/1 about Lancashire side ought to be snapped up.
Fleetwood to win - 1pt @ 2/1

Newport v Hartlepool

Sometimes one player can make all the difference at League Two level and the addition of veteran defender Rob Jones to the Hartlepool ranks is a game-changer of stellar proportions for any team locked in a relegation battle. Take the 3/1 about the Teessiders bagging a third straight win with the six-foot-seven Stockton-born centre back marshalling their backline at Newport.

The Exiles are not a team to be taken lightly. They’ve made significant strides under new boss Warren Feeney just when they appeared to be running out of steam under previous boss John Sheridan. However, Saturday’s monumental 3-0 win at Portsmouth has lifted them 13 points clear of the drop zone and a sense of anti-climax could follow here.

When you look at the table, it’s clear to see the greater sense of urgency is with Pools, yet the market doesn’t accurately reflect the momentum currently with them. This time last week, Craig Hignett’s men were just two points above the drop zone. Win tomorrow and the gap will be ten. A record of seven wins in ten matches against bottom-eight opposition only adds weight to the visitors’ case.
Hartlepool to win - 1pt @ 3/1