Home comforts in League One
Craig Chisnall brings you his best bets for the midweek action in the Sky Bet Football League with Preston and Shrewsbury both fancied.
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Preston got back to winning ways on Saturday after their mini-slump - and look great value to consign their three-game losing run to the back of their minds when they welcome Bradford.
North End's fine start was brought to an abrupt end when they lost three successive games 2-0 - to Oldham in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, and Peterborough and Crewe in the league.
- 1pt Preston to beat Bradford at 15/13 (bwin) - North End got back to winning ways at Gillingham on Saturday while Bradford have lost two on the trot
- 1pt Shrewsbury to beat Colchester at 15/13 (bwin) - The Shrews have performed better than their points tally reflects
- 1pt Luke James to score at any time for Hartlepool v Wimbledon at 2/1 (bet365) - the diminutive striker has been key to Pools resurgence
- 1pt Mansfield to beat Bury at 9/5 (Sky Bet) - the managerless Shakers are on a horrible trot; Stags are too big to ignore
But Simon Grayson, who has already won promotion from this division with Blackpool, Leeds and Huddersfield, didn't press the panic button and they were good value for their 2-1 win at Gillingham.
Midfielder Josh Brownhill, 17, marked his full debut with what proved to be the winner and he will surely keep his place for the visit of the Bantams.
Bradford have lost their way in the last 10 days with 1-0 defeats to Tranmere and Crawley so would probably take a point, but I'm backing Preston to just edge it.
Staying with home wins, I like the look of Shrewsbury to take the honours in their mid-table clash with Colchester.
Shrews boss Graham Turner is adamant Town have been performing better than their point-a-game ratio from the first 12 matches.
It took a stunning strike from Peterborough's Nathaniel Mendez-Laing to beat them at London Road at the weekend so they can take heart from that as the U's make the long trip.
The arrivals of Cristian Lopez and Liam McAlinden from Huddersfield and Wolves have also boosted their attacking options in recent weeks and I'm going to take them at odds-against to chalk up three points against a side winless since August.
In League Two get on Hartlepool's Luke James to continue his fine form by scoring against AFC Wimbledon.
The diminutive striker has scored in his last two games with Colin Cooper's side having taken nine points from the last nine available.
He was forced to plough a lone furrow in the win over Plymouth on Saturday following the early sending off of Jack Compton but he was still too hot to handle for the Pilgrims defenders.
The 18-year-old drew comparisons with Michael Owen's stunning strike at the World Cup in 1998 by waltzing through the defence to win the game. He's now got five goals for the season and bet365 offer him at a very attractive 2/1 to add to that tally at some point on Tuesday.
Another big price that looks difficult to ignore is the 9/5 offered by Sky Bet on Mansfield to win at plummeting Bury.
The Shakers, who I tipped to struggle at the start of the campaign, haven't won since August and last week sacked manager Kevin Blackwell.
His assistant Ronnie Jepson has taken the reins at Gigg Lane but couldn't arrest the slide at Portsmouth as they lost for the fifth time in seven outings.
The newly-promoted Stags, fresh from winning the Conference, have made a fine start to life in League Two and Saturday's 0-0 draw at Torquay left them eighth in the table. At almost 2/1, Paul Cox's men are well worth considering.