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Monday, 21 January, 2019

In-form Oxford great value to enhance their playoff prospects

Best bets in Saturday's Sky Bet Football League

Oxford celebrate during the FA Cup game against Middlesbrough
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All games 3pm Saturday

Chesterfield v Oxford
Oxford have never been higher than tenth in Sky Bet League One this season but they are playing some of their best football of the campaign and can take closer order in the playoff battle by defeating second-bottom Chesterfield at the Proact Stadium.

Progress in the cups has been an important aspect of Oxford's season and they still have an EFL Trophy semi-final with Luton to look forward to.

Their run to the fifth round of the FA Cup featured victories over Sky Bet Championship clubs Rotherham and Newcastle and they gave Premier League Middlesbrough a scare last weekend before losing 3-2 at the Riverside.

There was a danger that Oxford's FA Cup exit would precede a drop-off in their league performances but just three days after losing on Teesside they won 1-0 at Charlton and climbed to within six points of the top six.

All of the sudden the playoffs are looking a realistic possibility for Michael Appleton's side, who have taken 12 points from the last five league games.

They are one of the division's form teams and are coming up against a Chesterfield side low on confidence after failing to win any of their last six games.

Chesterfield picked up a welcome 0-0 draw at Millwall on Tuesday although they lost the shot-count 16 to six against a Lions side who had made six changes from the previous game.

Goalscoring has become a huge problem for the Spireites, who have netted four times in their last 11 matches, and they are likely to be outclassed by a United team eyeing up a dash for promotion.

3pts Evs general

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AFC Wimbledon v Walsall
Walsall can edge closer to the Sky Bet League One promotion pack by beating AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow.

In mid-December Wimbledon were on the fringes of the playoffs but their focus has switched to survival after one win in the last ten league games.

They operate with one of the smaller squads in the league and received some bad news this week after a scan revealed that captain Barry Fuller's pectoral muscle injury is serious enough to rule him out for the rest of the season.

Left-back Jonathan Meades and midfielder Chris Whelpdale have been ruled out with injuries, leaving manager Neil Ardley short of options as he tries to arrest the recent slide.

Walsall are also absorbing some bad injury news after learning midfielder Florent Cuvelier is out until April but the Saddlers coped well enough without the Belgian during last Saturday's 2-0 win at home to Peterborough.

Jon Whitney's underrated side have lost one of their last eight games – a run which included matches against all of the top three – and look a steal at odds-against with the draw no bet.

Walsall draw no bet
2pts 5-4 Betway, Ladbrokes

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Peterborough v Rochdale
Peterborough's Sky Bet League One playoff hopes are fast disappearing after five losses in the last seven games and the slide may continue with a home defeat against Rochdale.

Both teams have seen their top-six prospects diminish in recent weeks but Dale, winless in six league games, will have been pleased with aspects of last Saturday's 3-3 draw at home to Charlton.

Striker Calvin Andrew, making his second start since returning from injury, got on the scoresheet in a more typical, attack-minded Rochdale performance which ended a run of five games without a goal.

Rochdale's confidence seems to be returning but Peterborough's belief was shaken be a dismal 4-1 loss at home to Southend on Tuesday.

Their midfield was not up to scratch in midweek with Anthony Grant and Chris Forrester suspended and Gwion Edwards injured.

None of them are likely to feature against Rochdale and it could be grim viewing for the home fans.

Rochdale draw no bet
2pts 5-6 general

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Crewe v Stevenage
David Artell has done an excellent job since replacing Steve Davis in the Crewe dugout last month and he can lead the Railwaymen further away from the Sky Bet League Two drop zone by masterminding victory at home to playoff-chasing Stevenage.

It is hard to be critical of Stevenage, who have left their poor early-season performances behind them and have collected 13 points from the last five games.

But the Hertfordshire side have lost three of their last five away fixtures and may become the latest victims of a rejuvenated Crewe, who have recorded wins over Grimsby (5-0) and Wycombe (2-1) in their last two home matches.

1pt 9-5 bet365, Betfair, Paddy Power

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All of the sudden the playoffs are looking a realistic possibility for Michael Appleton's side, who have taken 12 points from the last five league games
E.W. Terms
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