Weblog: The football punter

The JPT is more exciting than watching paint dry

I’M COUNTING down the hours until Azerbaijan and Croatia kick off another hugely absorbing (okay, paralysingly dull) round of international matches, but luckily there’s a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy card to tuck into first.

This is good, honest, blood-and-guts, early-season cup sparring, played out between teams making all the right noises about dreaming of a day out at Wembley next spring. The right noises that is until the teams are announced. At that point it will become abundantly clear that most managers couldn’t give two hoots about the JPT and will make as many changes as are humanly possible without incurring the wrath of the Football League’s fines panel.

So given that the season is still at a fledgling state, I think I need some historical guidance before parting with some hard-earned.

And you don’t need a degree in trawling through footy-related stats to realise that Shrewsbury are a lay at home to Oldham.

The Shrews have gone out at their first hurdle in the last four seasons and while they might be good enough to take leads against the likes of Blackburn and Palace, they can’t seem to cut it against teams on their own level.

Mansfield haven’t even scored a goal in seven of their last eight JPT games so with that level of contempt for the competition seeping through the woodwork at Field Mill, they’re going down at Notts County.

Carlisle, in contrast, have a ridiculous love affair with this ridiculous tournament. They’ve been to the final six times for heaven’s sake and any club who take it that seriously must be worth a bet at long odds at Port Vale.

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Match in Focus

19:45 Th 3Sep SS1

Cyprus v Wales

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Cyprus have won just one of their last nine home games
Expert verdict
The draw is a decent runner in this contest, but Cyprus really must win to maintain contact with third place and their limited home attack will have to press forward as the game progresses. That could allow Wales to do what they do best and nick it on the break late on thanks to the counter-attacking speed of Gareth Bale.