With the FA Cup first round proper kicking off, I’ve backed home wins for the dynamic trio of Bournemouth, Torquay and Gillingham as part of a segment I like to call the Beautiful South.
And before anyone gets too excited, I must stress that I have dubbed this delightful threesome as such because of their geographical location, rather than any affiliation to the Paul Heaton-led band of the same name.
To be honest, I could do with a break from the action in League One and League Two after an ill-timed first-half red card put paid to Crawley’s chances against Oldham, thus ending my hopes of delivering a perfect Home Heroes treble.
This time out though I’m more confident of success, with my treble bringing together what should be an easy win for Torquay against non-league minnows Harrogate, a likely victory for top-of-the-league Gillingham against an out-of-sorts Scunthorpe and highly-fancied Bournemouth ahead of their meeting with Dagenham & Redbridge.
Available at odds of just over 4/1, these picks could bring returns of £81.69 for anyone using bwin’s free £20 bet for registering. If the treble comes in, I’m off on holiday. I’m thinking Rotterdam or Liverpool. Or Rome. Or anywhere, really. But enough of that: here are this week’s selections:
Torquay United to beat Harrogate Town @ 11/25
Make no mistake, an impressive run of four games unbeaten which has seen them claim three wins and a draw means Torquay are the team to beat at the moment in League Two.
The Gulls have been flying at home too, having gone eight games without defeat at Plainmoor. The last four of these have been wins, with the most memorable coming against Gillingham, when the south coast club managing to put a leash on Mad Dog Martin Allen’s team with a 2-1 victory.
They should have little to fear against non-league Harrogate Town, who should be afraid – very afraid – ahead of their away trip.
A home win looks assured at 11/25
Bournemouth to beat Dagenham & Redbridge @ 11/20
Perhaps it is the influence of a certain Harry Redknapp, or maybe just the return of local favourite Eddie Howe as manager, but things have been looking up at Bournemouth in recent weeks.
The Cherries have been scintillating in League One, claiming ten points from a possible 12 in their last four games, with the highlight coming via a home win against league leaders Tranmere Rovers.
Bournemouth are another team in fine form at home with wins in their last two matches at Dean Court. In contrast, Dagenham & Redbridge have claimed just one win in their last ten away games and are currently on a run of three games without victory.
Howe’s team will therefore be confident of further success, particularly as they have won their last three meetings with the Daggers, including two victories at Dean Court.
They are looking good for a win at 11/20.
Gillingham to beat Scunthorpe United @ 83/100
While we may be away from League Two this week, it seems my love affair with Martin Allen and Gillingham has spilled over into the FA Cup.
Top of their division, the Gills remain strong favourites for promotion to League One having lost just one of their last six competitive games.
And Allen will be confident of a win against strugglers Scunthorpe, who are without a win in seven league games in a run which appears likely to ensure the two teams swap divisions next year.
The Gills have been particularly strong at the Priestfield Stadium, with four wins in their last five at home and four goals in their last two matches there.
Expect an upset with a Gills win at 83/100.