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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Accrington primed to continue unlikely promotion charge

Boss Coleman working wonders on modest budget

Accrington are third in League Two despite operating on a shoestring budget
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3pm Saturday

Accrington v Port Vale
The gloves are off for Port Vale boss Neil Aspin who has banned his players from warming their hands with mittens in a bid to get them to work harder, but the visitors may still be frozen out at Accrington.

Aspin, a hard-as-nails type during his playing days with Vale, has managed an upturn in their fortunes since replacing Michael Brown in the hotseat, with a 4-0 demolition of Sky Bet League Two leaders Luton the highlight.

However, the Hatters were weakened on that occasion and Vale's recent results have slipped with performances also taking a nosedive during the 1-0 losses to Notts County and Forest Green and last week's disappointing 1-1 home draw with Yeovil. 

Vale forced only six shots on target in those three matches, conceding double that amount, and if Accy can take care of Tom Pope they have the quality in the final third to make it four successive wins.

Accrington's three victories have all come without them conceding and it could well have been four as they led Morecambe 1-0 before their New Year's Day fixture was abandoned at half-time.

Stanley are third in League Two despite a budget which is more suited to relegation fodder than promotion challengers and that is testament to the excellent work of mustard boss John Coleman.

Wily forward Billy Kee is the top scorer in the division and the pace of his strike partner Kayden Jackson can really stretch opponents with the dynamite duo both scoring in each of their last three matches.

1pt 7-5 Betfair

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Shrewsbury v Doncaster
Second hosts 12th in League One and yet some bookmakers can't find a favourite at the New Meadow.

There are reasons for doubting Shrewsbury.

Manager Paul Hurst said his side were "out on their feet" by the end of Tuesday's FA Cup extra-time loss at West Ham, while the Shrews are probably in a slightly false position with their shot stats just below average for the division.

However, Hurst's side have won ten, drawn one and lost one at home this term and Blackburn's Bradley Dack was the last opposition player to score past first-choice keeper Dean Henderson in Shropshire back in September.

Henderson, on loan from Manchester United, is a classy cat and Donny are possibly overrated by the market despite performing well on expected goals. They have won only twice in 12 attempts against those sides above them in League One.

Shrewsbury draw no bet
1pt 5-6 BoyleSports

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Alex Neil has masterminded an upturn in Preston fortunes after a tough start

Preston v Birmingham
Millwall manager Neil Harris said Preston would be around the top six by the end of the season after last week's 1-1 draw at the Den and if so North End should expect to beat Birmingham.

Preston are getting players back after injuries which played a major part in their seven-match winless earlier in the campaign but Alex Neil's men have since lost one in 11 with six wins. Those victories included triumphs over Sheffield United, Cardiff and Bristol City.

North End are a fit team who can press opponents well and in Ben Pearson they have a midfielder who runs the show most weeks, which is a direct opposite to an almost rudderless Blues outfit.

Last week's 3-0 home loss to Derby had been coming despite the formguide showing City had previously won three in a row.

1pt 4-5 Betfair

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2.30pm Saturday

Freiburg v Leipzig
No team needed the winter break more than tired Leipzig, which is ironic considering they are sponsored by energy drink giants Red Bull, but they came out firing on their Bundesliga return to beat Schalke last week. 

Naby Keita is suspended and Emil Forsberg injured but the likes of Timo Werner can earn them maximum points in the Black Forest, even against an awkward Freiburg outfit.

1pt 22-19 188Bet

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Plays of the day

Tottenham 4-6
Spurs look over their mini-wobble with Kane, Son, Alli and Eriksen all on top of their games and look a decent price to frank the form of last month's 5-2 win over Southampton.

Wigan 8-13
The Sky Bet League One leaders are the best side in the division but they have failed to win three of their last four league games at odds-on. Hosts Plymouth are unbeaten in eight.

Fulham 9-20, Luton 2-5, Tottenham 4-6 Betway

Both teams to score
Games at West Ham 4-5, Reading 7-10, Rotherham 4-5, Mansfield 4-5 Betfair

Thought for the week

After Oumar Niasse was banned for two matches for diving against Crystal Palace after the Everton man apparently "exaggerated the effect of a normal contact to deceive the referee" I wrote in this column how wrong it was to use TV evidence for some forms of cheating and not others.

A perfect example of this came just last week when Abdoulaye Doucoure deliberately used his hand to score an equaliser for Watford against Southampton.

Unlike the Niasse situation, this was quite clearly handball rather than an opinion on whether a fall was exaggerated. If anyone should serve a suspension it should be Doucoure.

So I will ask the question once again - why are some forms of cheating seen as more punishable than others? 

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Manager Paul Hurst said the Shrews were "out on their feet" by the end of Tuesday's FA Cup extra-time loss at West Ham
E.W. Terms
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