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An English National League team has nothing overly important for which to play on Saturday, it has failed to win any of its last six matches and its weekend guest is desperate for a positive result in its bid to stave off relegation. And, just for good measure, the manager of the home side is not biting his tongue about some of his club’s other staff.
Forest Green is the English National League team to which one is referring and bookmakers are inviting punters to take relatively short odds about Rovers collecting three points that it does not need from its game against a Halifax side that is one of five teams that may accompany Kidderminster and Welling out of the division. Thanks but no thanks.
Cheltenham ran away with the English National League title and automatic promotion to English League One in large part because Forest Green went to pieces at the business end of the season. Since Forest Green won 1-0 at Gateshead it has gone six English National League matches without a win and its most recent result was a 1-2 home loss to 14th-placed Woking when Rovers had everything for which to play and the Cards, one of non-league football’s big names, had nothing.
Morale in the Forest Green playing ranks is low and Rovers boss Adrian Pennock’s blunt comments about the state of their home pitch have gone down like a lead balloon with club officials. Pennock said that the New Lawn playing surface was a disgrace after Forest Green’s winless run reached half a dozen games. How not to win friends and influence people when everyone should be pulling together.
Statistically there is not much of a case for anything other than a Forest Green home victory. Forest Green is second on the English National League ladder boasting almost double the number of points that Halifax has earned over the first 44 rounds. Forest Green’s English National League home record of 15-3-4 contrasts with Halifax’s away numbers of 5-2-15, plus Rovers are 12-1-0 in divisional action versus the seven sides that could end up occupying the drop zone.
Situationally, however, there is a case for backing Halifax to beat Forest Green, an option that is available at odds of 43/10 5.30 +430 4.30 4.30 -0.23 with Marathonbet. Three points on Saturday would lift Halifax out of the English National League relegation spots because the two teams immediately above the Shaymen on the ladder, Boreham Wood and Guiseley, clash this weekend. Three points on Saturday would place Halifax’s English National League destiny in its own hands and the Shaymen’s 46th and final fixture is at home to mid-table Macclesfield, a side that cannot finish any higher than seventh on the ladder.
Halifax is in similar form to Forest Green – it has won only one of its last seven English National League matches – but the Shaymen did create a stack of goal-scoring opportunties in their last-start 0-0 home draw with promotion-chasing Eastleigh. Halifax fired off 20 shots to Eastleigh’s six, with the Spitfires indebted to their goalkeeper, Ross Flitney, who pulled off at least four excellent saves.
The purpose of one’s weekly column is to highlight bets at big prices that have a good chance of paying dividends. One is willing to take a punt on Forest Green performing below par in an English National League game that will have no bearing on its play-offs prospects and Halifax simply wanting the three points on offer more than its host.
Halifax to beat Forest Green
Saturday 23rd April, 15:00 GMT
Odds: 43/10 5.30 +430 4.30 4.30 -0.23
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