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BILLY BUNTER

Weblog: The football punter

Five things we learned from the weekend

1 Clever Cowley can continue climb up leagues 
Lincoln have made history by reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals but their main target is promotion back to the Sky Bet Football League and whatever happens to the Imps, manager Danny Cowley is ready to make the step up.

Cowley's side are extremely well-organised and the successful pressing tactics used to eliminate Burnley, Brighton, Ipswich and Oldham can only come from meticulous training ground work.

Sean Raggett's match-winning header at Turf Moor was further evidence of their preparation with a perfect set-piece screen used to create the space for the first header back across goal.

Sometimes cup runs can be lucky but Cowley has already proved himself twice before.

Combining his managerial role with a day job as a PE teacher, Cowley took Concord Rangers - the second biggest club at the time on Canvey Island - from the Essex Senior League to the National League South.

That earned Cowley and his brother Nicky a chance at Braintree where the duo combined to take a part-time team in a mainly full-time National League to the brink of promotion. They conceded only 12 goals in 23 home matches.

Lincoln - seventh favourites at 16-1 to win the National League ante-post - sit top of the league in Cowley's first season and he clearly loves nothing more than upsetting the odds.

2 Kightly making Burton fly
Burton took a step towards Sky Bet Championship safety with a key victory over Norwich on Saturday and on-loan Michael Kightly is making a big splash at Albion.

The winger, borrowed from Burnley at the end of January, has scored in all three matches since he signed for Nigel Clough's side and the winning lob against the Canaries was a thing of real beauty.

Cauley Woodrow, another loanee, has bagged two in three games and Burton's new-look side could have enough about them to survive.

3 Overrated Dons desperate to be laid
Milton Keynes Dons are well respected by bookmakers but they have not scored in their last three matches and at some stage their decent shot and possession statistics need to be overlooked.

The Dons were almost favourites at Oxford and lost 1-0, they were 23-20 at Bury and drew 0-0 and they went off 5-4 against high-flying Fleetwood.

The impressive shot stats that were evident under Karl Robinson's tenure are disappearing too with only seven attempts on target in their last four matches and while Milton Keynes are better than 16th place suggests, that is more than reflected in the match prices.

4 Pompey need to show more attacking intent on the road
Many of the teams towards the top of Sky Bet League Two are faltering but Portsmouth have been unable to take advantage due to their tepid performances away from Fratton Park.

A last-gasp equaliser saved a point at Barnet on Saturday but it was their only attempt on target in a game for which they were odds-on for victory and Paul Cook's side have gone four road games without success.

5 Colchester can't cope with injury crisis
John McGreal apologised to Colchester fans after their poor performance in a 2-1 defeat at Accrington in which the hosts played the second half with ten men, but most teams would struggle with an absentee list as long as the one facing the Essex side.

They have been decimated, particularly defensively, and other players are having to start despite knocks, which isn't ideal in this hectic period.

Wycombe have been playing better than recent results suggest and look a worthwhile bet at odds bigger than 2-1 at Colchester on Tuesday.

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