Ram raid the bookies

  • By: Craig Chisnall
  • Last Updated: January 1 2014, 15:03 GMT

Craig Chisnall feels in-form Derby simply have to be backed in the Sky Bet Football League on New Year's Day.

All smiles: Derby are flying under Steve McClaren's guidance
All smiles: Derby are flying under Steve McClaren's guidance

Derby laid down a marker on the first day of December when they went to Wigan and won 3-1 and I'm backing them to end the month in similar fashion by completing a double over the Latics.

The Rams went to the DW Stadium on the back of two successive wins but the manner in which they won that day not only showed how much they had improved under Steve McClaren but also proved enough for Wigan boss Owen Coyle shown the door.

McClaren's men haven't looked back since with another five wins in six games to make it 25 points banked from the last 27 available. It could even have been a full house had Chris Martin not had a penalty saved in the Boxing Day draw at Huddersfield.

They are now up to second and just two points behind Leicester with their free-flowing attacking system producing 22 goals in their last nine games.

Wigan have improved since the arrival of Uwe Rosler as Coyle's replacement - they are unbeaten in four - but such is County's belief and with Pride Park set to be a sell out I really like the look of the 23/20 available about a home win.

I'm also going for a home win in League One with the 21/20 offered by BetVictor on Swindon to beat Crawley a great price.

The Robins have already won eight times at the County Ground and if they had only won more than their paltry total of two on the road they would be safely inside the top six.

As it is, they are still in the mix in eighth, just two places and four points behind Rotherham in the final play-off spot, and boss Mark Cooper deserves huge credit for the job he has done since taking the reins in the summer.

He was a surprise choice, to Town fans at least, following Kevin MacDonald's departure in July but he has worked wonders with a drastically-reduced budget to previous seasons.

Cooper has made great use of the loan system in particular with one of his temporary arrivals Alex Pritchard, from Tottenham, earning them a point at Bradford on Sunday with a stunning strike.

They've won their last two on home turf and I believe a third will follow to start the New Year in fine style.

In League Two, the festive period has been a bit of a disaster so far for Oxford with two home defeats and they must be thrilled to be back on the road.

The high-flying U's lost 3-2 to Plymouth in front of more than 10,000 fans on Boxing Day and also saw Scunthorpe leave the Kassam Stadium on Sunday with all the points.

They have now lost more than they have won on their own patch - five defeats to four victories; if Chris Wilder could only find an answer to that they would be romping clear at the top given their wonderful away form.

United have won six of 10 away games, drawn the other four, scored 20 goals and conceded just seven so they are doing something right on their travels.

Newport don't give away points easily at Rodney Parade but following those two defeats the U's will be desperate for a win and given their away record the 85/40 on offer is more than worthy of consideration if you are looking for value.

  • Posted at 1235 GMT on 30/12/2013.