Stags' strike duo can blunt Cumbrians

Carlisle 3.20 v Mansfield 2.34; the draw 3.60
If you are looking for a cracker away from the FA Cup third round this weekend, look no further than Brunton Park, where a pair of League Two's most in-form teams collide.
The Stags are unbeaten in 17 games - a remarkable run in any division. They have 14 points from the six-game table on which I place a fair amount of stall. Carlisle, however, sit one place above them on top of that table, on 15 points.
John Sheridan's men have really got it together in the past month or so, their only defeat in that time an excusable loss to Milton Keynes, who are many people's favourites to win the division.
The Cumbrians have thrown in plenty of goals since that early December defeat, but had hinted at doing so when thrashing Swindon 4-0. Another came along against Colchester, a side who shouldn't be suffering losses of that magnitude, and then there was that 6-0 mauling of Oldham.
Jamie Devitt and Hallam Hope have continued to help Carlisle push into the top seven - and how bunched it looks. Three more points and they could leapfrog Mansfield into third - but only if they won by four goals! I think, however, that even recent scorers Jerry Yates and Jack Sowerby will have quite a bit of difficulty breaking down the Stags' defence as easily as they did Oldham's.
Danny Grainger, another semi-regular scorer, will probably be too busy at the other end, with Anthony Gerrard and Gary Liddle, against Mansfield's midfield. Another clean sheet, to add to three in their past six games, will be needed here to win.
However, it's going to be a tall order to overcome David Flitcroft's men, who have three clean sheets as well in that time, but who have also only conceded three in that time, too. One at a time.
In fact, in their unbeaten run, there were only two games in which they conceded more than one. They were both 2-2 draws, at Bury and Cheltenham. Ten goals in 17 games is pretty good going. They don't always seem to be guaranteed to bang in goals though, netting 26.
The key task now for Flitcroft is to hold on to Tyler Walker, on loan from Nottingham Forest, for the rest of the season. He's scored 11 league goals (three of their last five, add Opta) and CJ Hamilton, next best, only has five but is highly rated, with Preston reported to have had a £750,000 bid rejected.
If Walker and Hamilton are still around on Saturday (and the tip is made on the basis that they are), it could be the day that Carlisle's unbeaten run ends, as the visitors improve on the Opta stat that they have won just once in five trips to their hosts.

Expect goals as Robins make feathers fly

Crawley 2.90 v Cheltenham 2.66; the draw 3.60
It sounds like Joe Maguire is really enjoying his time on loan at Crawley from Fleetwood. The defender has opted to extend his deal.
Back in mid-October, the 22-year-old praised manager Gabriele Cioffi, saying the players were learning "so much" under him. That was after five straight home wins.
After their subsequent poor run of form, it is easy to wonder if the Reds have stopped listening to their esteemed leader! Mind you, defeating Colchester on New Year's Day made an impressive statement. The U's might not have great away form, but they are making a strong battle for automatic promotion.
Victory also allowed Crawley to cast out a winless December run from their minds (a goalless point at Newport last weekend was all they had to show for a dreadful month).
More impressively still, the Reds (and Luke Gambin) netted both their goals in the second half, having played since the 32nd minute with 10 men after Joe McNerney's dismissal.
Defender Mark Connolly praised their character, and hard work over Christmas, in putting their poor run to bed. And now they have one of non-league's most prolific recent goalscorers, Hendon's Ricky German, who will be eager to impress. Previously with Chesterfield in League One, he didn't scored in one start and eight substitute appearances for the Spireites, so the 19-year-old will be keen to make his mark and prove he is now league quality.
So can they overcome the Robins? Michael Duff's men have improved of late, with one defeat in 10 games (three wins and three draws in their last six) with three wins and three draws in six, and in fact one defeat in 11. In their previous 10, they had one win and three draws.
Duff says the early transfer window will be a busy few days. A couple have gone back to their parent clubs, while striker Manny Duku has returned from his spell at Barnet and Bristol City's Cameron Pring, 20, who came through Cheltenham's youth system, has returned on loan.
The visitors have been scoring, too. In those past 10 games, they have netted 21 times, mostly two or more per game. They've conceded 14 too, so there should be plenty of goalsat the Broadfield on Saturday.
With Alex Addai earning praise in recent times for creating chances, Luke Varney and Conor Thomas have been able to concentrate on scoring in consecutive matches. Tyrone Barnett must wish he can rekindle the half season he spent at Crawley in their first League Two season.
Crawley will do well to continue their revival here but they could well earn a draw. Opta reminds us that this fixture ended 5-3 to the visitors last season, and I think there should be goals again - over 3.5 goals is the pick at 3.60, with the visitors making much of the initial running. Maybe the high-scoring wager is the main bet here, but the game finishing a point apiece seems equally possible in a draw-strewn division.

Shrimps can take advantage of Crewe's away woes

Morecambe 2.90 v Crewe 2.74; the draw 3.40
Crewe are a mystery at the best of times, with David Artell striking me as someone who spends a lot of time not being able to put his finger on problems. They must "pray" aboutPaul Green's injury, for example, after the midfielder came off against Bury with a recurrence of a knee injury.
He strikes me as a grafter, though, who will find answers eventually. I think that sums up Crewe's patchy form - with no goals for three games running, then two clean sheet victories, one of them over Lincoln, and a defeat.
Bury boss Ryan Lowe accused Crewe of trying to "spoil the party" on New Year's Day, which was more about ruining the Shakers' home form rather than anything nasty about their opponents. Chris Porter scored for the visitors, who only have one away win this season.

Jordan Bowery might be suiting his new role out wide, but Morecambe have their own specialist wing man in Kevin Ellison and will most definitely be looking on this as a chance to pick up points.
They haven't scored in two matches, and need to find the magic they found to defeat Cambridge 3-0 and draw 2-2 with Port Vale, when A-Jay Leitch-Smith scored the last of his six goals. Rhys Oates could do with finding the net again, too. Shrimps boss Jim Bentley is now looking for January bargains, especially after not renewing 37-year-old winger Garry Thompson's contract.
The stats men at Opta say that Crewe have won three of their last four trips to Morecambe, with a 0-0 draw in January 2017 the exception. Their current away record counts against them, however, and Opta add killer stats that they have lost five on the bounce on their travels, netting the fewest number of goals (four) in the entire English Football League in the process. 
RECOMMENDED BETS
Back Mansfield @ 2.34 to win at Carlisle
Back Crawley and Cheltenham to draw @ 3.60
Back over 3.5 goals in Crawley v Cheltenham @ 3.60
Back Morecambe @ 2.90 to beat Crewe

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