League One weekend betting preview: Addicks all the way

 

The wobble - if you could call it that - has passed, and now it's difficult to envisage anybody stopping Charlton on their march to the League One title, so let's take odds of 8/5 about the leaders prevailing at misfiring Bournemouth on Saturday.

Draws against Bury, Tranmere and Rochdale last month suggested that Chris Powell's men were struggling to keep everything in order but something more alarming had to follow before we could class it as an outbreak of the jitters.

Instead, the Addicks have since breezed through a couple of thankless fixtures with aplomb, becoming the first team to land a handicap against Stevenage since September before sticking four goals past a much-improved Chesterfield in midweek.

Now it's clearly a case of when rather than if Charlton will complete the formality of a return to the Championship and with the bigger picture taking on a much more relaxed complexion, we should expect the Londoners to make a spirited dash for the line.

The Addicks have been outstanding on the road this season, winning 13 out of 17, and you suspect Bournemouth would have to pluck a stellar performance out of nowhere to upset those figures because they haven't been firing on all cylinders of late.

Hopes were high that Lee Bradbury's men might finish the season with a flourish following Russian investment and a late window spree coming on the back of a mid-season burst of eight wins in 12 league outings.

However, the foreign investment has merely cranked up the pressure around Dean Court, performances have dipped and the public antics of chairman Eddie Mitchell are bringing the sort of unwanted attention that is hardly going to restore a sense of composure.

We shouldn't read too much into idle speculation about the owner's wife giving a half-time team-talk during the 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth but we can stare at three defeats on the bounce and rightfully ask the question of whether that's the sort of form you want to be taking into a game against such formidable opposition.

Meanwhile, Graham Westley hasn't made too many friends in his first few weeks at Deepdale but we shouldn't let that deter us from picking up the thread of what he does best and backing Preston to keep a clean sheet against Colchester at 7/2.

The Lilywhites have mustered just five points from six matches since Westley picked up the reins from Graham Alexander but they've managed three clean sheets during that sequence and the U's don't possess nearly enough guile to cut through a stubborn rearguard action if the visitors get them a foothold.

Scunthorpe, Chesterfield and Rochdale have all frustrated John Ward's men in recent weeks with Steven Gillespie the only man to have netted for the Essex outfit at the Weston Homes since the turn of the year. If North End can keep him quiet, then the shut-out might well be a formality.

Recommended bets:

2pts Charlton to beat Bournemouth at 13/8 (Bet Victor)

2pts Preston to keep a clean sheet against Colchester at 7/2 (Bet Victor)

For more betting news and views, please visit Bestofthebets.com. You can also follow Mike Holden on Twitter: @Miguel_BOTB

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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