No End to Preston's good form
Craig Chisnall previews this weekend's action in npower League One.
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3pts Preston to beat Bury at 6/4 (General).
1pt Hartlepool to beat Carlisle at 11/8 (Blue Square, 888sport).
2pt double Swindon and Crawley at 7/4 (Blue Square, 888sport).
It has taken him longer than he would have envisaged but things are starting to turn for Preston boss Graham Westley - and his side will be full of confidence heading to Bury this weekend.
The former Stevenage manager, who guided Boro from the Blue Square Bet Premier to League One in the space of two years, was lured to Deepdale in January following the sacking of Phil Brown.
The end of last season could hardly have been worse for Westley with dressing room mutiny and a string of dire results leaving many North End fans to wonder if they had the right man in charge.
But after wielding the axe in spectacular fashion over the summer - they had ten debutants on the opening day of the season - Preston are on the up again.
Last Sunday's 4-1 destruction of Swindon, the Robins evidently fortunate to get away with that, will send them to Gigg Lane in confident mood.
New signing Stuart Beavon, a deadline day capture from Wycombe, got off the mark immediately in that rout and looks an inspired acquisition after bagging 25 goals last term in a relegated team.
Bury on the other hand still seem to be reeling from the last-minute departure of boss Richie Barker to Crawley.
Barker's assistant Peter Shirtliff is filling in on a caretaker basis but two points from a possible 12 is hardly doing his job prospects the world of good.
The 6/4 offered by several firms looks too good to ignore and I'll back North End to continue their momentum and darken the gloom of the Shakers.
Buoyed by their first win of the season, Hartlepool will fancy their chances of chalking up a second immediately when Carlisle arrive at the Victoria Ground.
Pools comfortably saw off struggling Scunthorpe last weekend with exciting talent Luke James getting off the mark for the campaign and they had the luxury of sitting out the midweek action.
The Cumbrians were beaten on penalties by Preston in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and have been frustratingly inconsistent for boss Greg Abbott.
The 11/8 on offer with Blue Square and 888sport on the home win looks too good to ignore.
Staying on the home front I fancy new boys Swindon and Crawley to flourish on their own patches and I'll put them in a double.
Swindon, fresh from their mauling at Preston, should bounce back at home to Leyton Orient. There was no shortage of incident at Deepdale with boss Paolo Di Canio and goalkeeper Wes Foderingham involved in a very public falling out - before kissing and making up within 24 hours.
The former Crystal Palace youngster is expected to take his place at the County Ground after playing in the 1-0 JPT defeat to Oxford on Wednesday and it's no wonder - he hasn't conceded a goal in well over 1,000 minutes at home.
Di Canio will have his team right up for this and they should have too much quality for the struggling O's.
A day later Crawley, who followed the Robins up from League Two last season, should build on their early season momentum by seeing off paupers Portsmouth.
Under Richie Barker the Red Devils have shot up to fourth in the early standings, winning their last three in all competitions, including a 2-1 home success over Bolton in the League Cup.
Barker has got former Manchester United youngster Nicky Ajose scoring again after a barren 12 months since joining Peterborough and they should have too much for Michael Appleton's men.