League One preview: Gary Smith to compound Paolo Di Canio's woes at Swindon


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The Independent Football

Paolo Di Canio hasn't reacted well to the news that Swindon have been placed under a transfer embargo and his Swindon side aren't reacting well to the negative vibes coming from their manager, so it's hard to resist quotes of 13/8 about them coming unstuck again at high-flying Stevenage on Saturday.

The Robins appeared to be cruising when Di Canio announced news of restrictions placed upon him by the Football League after the 1-0 win at Bury earlier this month but they have subsequently dropped seven points in their last three outings since and the Italian's erratic behaviour is bound to have a destabilising effect when his every remark is making national headlines.

The removal of chairman Jeremy Wray has only added fuel to the fire that Di Canio's future at the County Ground is in some doubt and while we're inclined to believe it all amounts to a storm in a teacup, it's hardly surprising that performances have dipped over the past few weeks.

Stevenage might be something of a surprise package in League One this season but the Hertforshire club are clearly superior to Coventry, Scunthorpe and Crewe, all of whom reside in the lower echelons of the division and all of whom have frustrated Swindon in the past fortnight.

Gary Smith's men might not be setting the world alight but performances are steadily improving and that should concern anyone due to face them considering how they have tasted defeat only once so far this term without being at their best. Clearly, Smith knows a thing or two when it comes to nullifying given opposition.

Tuesday's 2-1 win over in-form Portsmouth was their fourth in five outings with Portuguese midfielder Felipe Morais the star of the show, now playing in his favoured central role in the well-functioning 4-2-3-1 system just behind Canadian striker Marcus Haber. Morais had been operating as a winger but his brace against Pompey will surely persuade Smith to leave him be.

Meanwhile, Bury rode their luck to finally record a long-overdue win against Hartlepool in midweek and now their survival bid could progress in leaps and bounds. Take the 6/4 on them to follow up with another three points against stuttering Walsall at Gigg Lane on Saturday.

The Shakers have been performing to a decent standard since Kevin Blackwell started cracking the whip a month ago and they might have been off the bottom much sooner had luck not deserted them at crucial moments in games against Crawley, Carlisle and Yeovil.

However, the balance of fortune finally tipped in their favour against Pools when Neil Austin missed a penalty to level-up on 83 minutes as the Teessiders fought back from two goals down in a desperate attempt to save their manager's skin. It was the sort of moment that garners belief that the tide has turned.

Walsall have been much better over the course of 14 matches but their form has dipped alarmingly in October with four defeats and a squandered two-goal advantage against Crewe. The Saddlers went down 1-0 at Sheffield United in midweek, playing nearly 80 minutes with ten men and experienced defender Dean Holden will now be suspended for his red card at Bramall Lane.

Betting advice...

2pts Bury to beat Walsall at 6/4 (Betfred, Totesport)

The tide is turning for the Shakers and they meet the Saddlers at an ideal time.

2pts Stevenage to beat Swindon at 17/10 (Bet Victor)

Di Canio tantrums are destabilising the Robins and Boro look primed to pounce.

For more betting advice, visit Best of the Bets by clicking here.