League Two betting preview: No happy homecoming for Paul Sturrock


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The Independent Football

Paul Sturrock is doing a sterling job at Southend but his association with the club still has some way to go before he reaches the status he achieved at Plymouth and his former employers could do further damage to his promotion bid on Saturday.

Sturrock spent a combined six years at Home Park in two separate spells and he will be using all of the knowledge gained when guiding the Pilgrims to the basement title in 2003 to aid the Shrimpers' attempts to get out of the division this term.

However, their hopes of topping the pile come the end of the season suffered a serious blow at Roots Hall on Tuesday when they were overwhelmed by a rampant Swindon side and that result could really knock the stuffing out of them.

The Essex club had previously suffered defeat on the road at Crawley, Swindon, Cheltenham and Shrewsbury, now a 4-1 defeat on home soil against Paolo Di Canio's men could do some serious damage to their self-esteem and experience tells us that they tend not to bounce back well because two of those previous setbacks were followed by miserable 1-0 home defeats against Burton and Bradford.

We backed a loser when siding with Argyle last weekend and reports suggest they were pretty poor against Port Vale but they deserve another chance based on their prior performances and the 2/1 on Plymouth (draw no bet) is a solid wager in terms of both value and mileage.

Carl Fletcher bolstered his attack with the arrivals of Juvhel Tsoumou from Preston and Alex MacDonald from Burnley on transfer deadline day, taking the total of new arrivals to ten since the beginning of November, eight of whom remain, so this is hardly the team that got the club into the situation they now find themselves.

Meanwhile, Gillingham are all at sea defensively and they look worth opposing at home to Hereford. The Kent outfit have shipped eight goals in their last two matches and the first-half collapse they suffered at Accrington last Saturday is alarming for two reasons.

Firstly, Andy Hessenthaler admitted after the game that the players had worked intensively all week on defending as a unit in the wake of their capitulation against Wimbledon, which can only mean that individuals aren't taking enough responsibility.

Secondly, Hessenthaler and the players have since taken the laughable stance of offering to reimburse the Gills fans who travelled up to the Crown Ground from their own pockets, which essentially removes the sense of debt the team might have felt on the back of that performance.

By easing their own conscience in that manner, they have merely diluted the fuel that might trigger a backlash against the Bulls, so the psychological stakes are definitely in favour of the visitors who will be out to avenge a 6-1 defeat on their own ground back in September.

Indeed, with all of this in mind, it's hard to resist the 10/1 that Bet365 and SkyBet are offering on Hereford to score three or more goals.

Jamie Pitman's men are by no means the most formidable outfit around but they are capable of going to town on sloppy opposition when the mood takes them. They hit this marker five times on their travels last season and have managed it twice more so far this term

Recommended bets:

1.5pts Plymouth to beat Southend (draw no bet) at 2/1 (Bet365)

1pt Hereford to beat Gillingham at 9/2 (general)

0.5pt Hereford to score three or more goals at 10/1 (SkyBet)

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