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.

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

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'