League Two preview: Trust in the almighty Cod

Betting advice from Michael Holden of Best of the Bets

The prospect of Fleetwood going off at 17/10 for a home game in League Two would have been unthinkable at almost any point in the past four months, yet that's the opportunity awaiting punters against Southend when that the Fylde outfit have got shot of the man chiefly responsible for them underachieving this term.

Micky Mellon was sacked after last weekend's surprise FA Cup exit to Aldershot and we're anticipating an upturn in fortunes for the Cod Army over the coming weeks, just as the bookmakers appear to be taking their projections in the other direction.

We don't wish to be overly harsh on Mellon but he was evidently under-qualified for the job he was now being asked to do. The goalposts moved with promotion to the Football League and the former Blackpool midfielder was suddenly out of his depth with no prior managerial experience at this level.

Driving the club upwards through the non-league pyramid with heavy financial backing is all well and good but you can't chop and change personnel so ruthlessly in the professional game. Once you start managing players of Championship pedigree, you need to bring more subtle qualities to the table.

So we're willing to wipe the slate clean and judge Fleetwood as though we've never encountered them before and what we find is a squad brimming with household names, players who are capable of - and probably have been - negotiating matches of this standard in their sleep, and a team sitting seventh in the table despite an apparent lack of cohesion.

Based on that information alone, you might be inclined declare this a contender for bet of the season but things aren't quite so clear-cut.

For starters, Southend are no ordinary opposition at the moment. They've been playing with renewed confidence in recent weeks, overcoming any prior psychological hang-ups to win their last three league matches in convincing fashion with Torquay, Wimbledon and Rochdale put to the sword by an aggregate score of 11-2.

The Shrimpers have also fared well against League One opposition over the past seven days, holding Bury to a 1-1 draw at Gigg Lane in the FA Cup before dumping Brentford out of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on Tuesday, although it's possible they could be stretched as a result of those additional exertions.

Both sides have injuries to contend with but should be able to field something vaguely resembling their strongest XI and though little is known about Fleetwood caretaker Craig Madden, we're working to the assumption that we'd fancy our chances at the price if a random bloke walked in off the street and simply told the players to go out and enjoy themselves.

Meanwhile, Bradford continued a remarkable season by prolonging their participation in both the FA Cup and Johnstone's Paint Trophy since playing out a 3-3 draw with Bristol Rovers in their last league outing but they could be vulnerable for the visit of play-off rivals Torquay with a mammoth Capital One Cup quarter-final with Arsenal just days away.

The televised clash against the Gunners is, without question, the biggest game to be played at Valley Parade since the Bantams were relegated from the Premier League over a decade ago and it's bound to have a distracting effect in terms of how Phil Parkinson's men approach things against the Devon outfit.

The Gulls are happy to set their stall out on the road and it could suit them to operate within those fine margins here when you consider how the hosts are struggling to cope with the demands of competing on four fronts. Bradford have only had two free midweeks since the middle of September and their six league matches prior to the goalfest in Avon produced a mere six goals.

As such, it makes sense to keep the stalemate onside and a small interest on Torquay (draw no bet) at 9/4 is the recommended play.

Betting advice...

2pts Fleetwood to beat Southend at 17/10 (Blue Square)

Cod Army could be a more formidable proposition with senior players left to their own devices.

1pt Torquay to beat Bradford (draw no bet) at 9/4 (Bet365)

Gulls could be heading to Valley Parade at the ideal time with Arsenal visit just days away.

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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
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

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on