League Two preview: Back a basement blockade

 

Paul Cook might have his work cut out winning over the Chesterfield dressing room and we see more problems ahead for the Spireites when they host improving Oxford United at the Proact Stadium on Saturday. Take some of the 11/8 available on Oxford (draw no bet).

Cook was something of a left-field appointment when he was unveiled as successor to John Sheridan last month but chairman Dave Allen pulled no punches in his assessment of the working environment that had developed under the previous regime, vowing that the players could kiss goodbye to a cushy lifestyle.

So we can only conclude that Cook made certain promises to that effect and it's strange that he should be thrust into the role alongside Sheridan's former assistant Tommy Wright, who made no secret of his ambition to land the top job during a three-week caretaker stint before Allen turned to Cook.

Of course, we should be wary of jumping to conclusions about the current mood within the camp but probability says the formula is unlikely to be a winning one and the players have done little to challenge that judgement with their performances under the new man.

Cook did guide Chesterfield to a thumping 6-1 victory over managerless Hartlepool in the FA Cup but knockout football tends to provide its own motivation in an otherwise miserable campaign and a first league win has proved elusive in three attempts, leaving the 45-year-old Liverpudlian bemoaning the culture he has inherited.

Oxford might only be a point ahead of their hosts in 17th place but their season has taken a much more purposeful twist in recent weeks with the return of key players from injury and confidence is steadily being restored.

Captain Peter Leven and star striker James Constable were among those unavailable during a dismal six-match losing streak that spanned the whole of September but results have picked up since those two returned and we see no reason why the U's cannot match the top-seven standards they set for most of last season.

The recovery hasn't been without its setbacks but we find sufficient reassurance in recent defeats to Rochdale and Dagenham. Chris Wilder's men were the dominant force in a 2-0 defeat Spotland, while the Daggers view their 3-2 success at the Kassam as a particular highlight in what's shaping up to be an exciting season for them.

Meanwhile, Plymouth are familiar with the standards being set towards the top of the division after successive matches against Cheltenham, Rotherham, Burton and Cheltenham, so they might be pleasantly surprised by the size of the challenge that awaits at Fleetwood.

The Pilgrims are 4/1 for victory at Highbury Stadium and while most people can't see beyond the embarrassment of their televised ten-man FA Cup defeat to Dorchester, we rate their chances based on reports from those last four league outings and the complimentary remarks being dished out by opposing managers.

There have been questions asked about Carl Fletcher's position but we're convinced he has the support of his players and this could be the perfect opportunity for them to quell the speculation with a result that makes outsiders sit up and take notice.

Fleetwood will field the usual host of familiar names and they appear to be plodding along nicely in third spot, but they remain a side to be opposed while performances fail to match the hype that surrounds them. The Cod Army have seldom been a dominant force in any game this season.

Betting advice...

2pts Oxford to beat Chesterfield (draw no bet) at 11/8 (Boylesports)
Spireites have a dubious set-up and visitors are coming back to something like their best.

1pt Plymouth to beat Fleetwood at 4/1 (Coral)
Argyle have been performing well and look a big price to expose unconvincing newcomers.

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

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker