Taking a break from the doom and gloom surrounding League One and League Two, I’ve picked out Port Vale, Sheffield United and Colchester United for away wins in the FA Cup first round this weekend at just over 5/1.
There’s always something nostalgic about the early rounds of the world’s oldest domestic cup competition, with the minnows of non-league facing off against the lower divisions’ finest in a series of ties that offer thrills, spills and a fair few chills, given the time of year.
It’s a chance for the smaller teams to grab some of the headlines usually dominated by their Premier League rivals and this Saturday should be no different.
Picking out three worthy teams to back for away wins at this stage of the competition is a tricky process though, with an effective treble requiring good odds for each of three sides in action and also meaning any ties in which one team is heavy favourites is probably best avoided.
But a day spent poring over stats has helped me to see the light and I’m convinced that the trio I have picked out offer the perfect balance for those seeking a reliable punt.
With that in mind, I’m backing the unbeaten Blades to defeat lowly Bristol Rovers, while a bang in-form Colchester should dispatch Chelmsford and Micky Adams’ Valiants can be relied upon to defeat struggling Forest Green Rovers.
Available at combined odds in excess of 5/1, this treble offers returns of £129.50 for those using bwin’s free £20 bet for registering. Now, let’s get to the action.
Sheffield United to beat Bristol Rovers @ 17/20
Danny Wilson and Sheffield United are continuing to fly in League One at present and while all good things must come to an end, I don’t see that happening on their trip to Bristol Rovers.
The Blades are on a run of four straight victories both home and away in the league and can also boast a five-match winning streak on the road in what has been a scintillating spell for the promotion pushers.
Meanwhile, Bristol Rovers have fallen back into the form that has seen them win just three of their last 15 games, with back-to-back defeats in their last two fixtures. It all adds up to an away win at 17/20.
Colchester United to beat Chelmsford City @ 3/4
A change of manager at Colchester United seems to have done the trick for the U’s, who have claimed ten points from the 12 available in their last four fixtures.
Joe Dunne’s team have also improved their goalscoring, with two goals in each of their last three league games. A trip to non-league Chelmsford City should therefore prove a relatively easy test for the League One club, given the chasm between the two sides in the football league pyramid.
Chelmsford have won five of their seven home games in the Conference South this season, but have conceded a worrying 12 goals in the process, so Colchester should be able to cash in on these defensive frailties and secure their passage into round two.
Port Vale to beat Forest Green Rovers @ Evens
Micky Adams may be questioning the fitness levels of lower-league officials this week, but Port Vale are continuing to keep pace with the big boys in League Two and could well be in the mix for promotion come the end of the season.
Vale have lost just two of their last ten competitive games, with six wins from their last eight away trips, and should fancy their chances on a trip to Conference challengers Forest Green Rovers.
Forest Green have hit a poor patch of form at a bad time, with just one win from their last six games. Their home form has been poor too, with just one win in their last five games on their own patch and two defeats from their last three.
Vale are a decent price at evens and can be trusted to get the job done.