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League Two weekend preview: Leaders Orient may have to grind it out again

It is another busy Saturday in League Two as leaders Leyton Orient bid to strengthen their position with a home win over Barrow.

Second-placed Stevenage shocked Premier League Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round last weekend and are 10/11 to enhance their promotion prospects with a victory at 16/5 Harrogate while the coupon also includes intriguing fixtures at Crawley and Stockport. 

Leaders can maintain excellent defensive standards

WhatLeyton Orient v Barrow, League Two
WhereBrisbane Road, London
When15:00, Saturday 14th January
OddsLeyton Orient 10/11, Barrow 10/3, Draw 12/5

Leyton Orient look primed for a return to League One given that they are top of the table after 25 matches of the 2022/23 League Two campaign, a healthy 17 points clear of the playoff spots.

Orient have found goals hard to come by since Christmas but their defensive standards remain high and they have conceded only 13 times in the league this season.

The leaders are 17/20 to beat 10/3 visitors Barrow on Saturday although it may pay to back them for a low-scoring victory given their recent performances.

Orient's last four league results have been goalless draws with promotion-chasing Stevenage and lowly Newport County, a 1-0 defeat at Northampton and a 1-0 win over Doncaster last weekend.

They needed a stunning long-range strike from Theo Archibald to break through against Donny, who did not manage a shot on target at Brisbane Road despite the fact that Orient were missing first-choice centre-backs Omar Beckles and Dan Happe. That display suggests the leaders are worth backing at 7/4 To Win to Nil against Barrow.

The Cumbrians are having a fine season, having been ante-post favourites for relegation, and they remain in the hunt for the playoffs although just five points cover 12 teams from fourth to 15th in the standings.

Barrow's record against the top three is a concern, however, as they have lost their three meetings with Orient, Stevenage and Northampton by an aggregate score of 10-1.

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WhatCrawley Town v Doncaster, League Two
WhereBroadfield Stadium, Crawley
When15:00, Saturday 14th January
OddsCrawley Town 21/10, Doncaster 11/8, Draw 9/4

Another new era starts for Crawley Town on Saturday as the Sussex side this week appointed Scott Lindsey as their third permanent manager of the 2022/23 season.

Lindsey takes over a team who have lost four of their last six League Two matches and there could be worse to come when the 21/10 hosts face 11/8 Doncaster on Saturday.

Donny were unable to lay a glove on runaway leaders Leyton Orient last weekend but they had won three of their previous four league matches, including a 4-3 win over Rochdale and a 2-1 victory over fellow playoff hopefuls Carlisle.

Doncaster are struggling for consistency and their last 10 league fixtures have yielded five wins and five defeats to nil. Crawley are 9/2 To Win to Nil on Saturday but they are far less intimidating than Donny's most recent opponents and the away win could be a good bet.

Stockport no shoo-in against promotion-chasing Cobblers

WhatStockport v Northampton, League Two
WhereEdgeley Park, Stockport
When15:00, Saturday 14th January
OddsStockport 4/5, Northampton 15/4, Draw 5/2

Stockport will start the weekend in 14th place in the League Two table but they are just five points behind Carlisle in fourth so a push for the playoffs in the second half of the season is a realistic target.

County were well fancied at the start of the campaign before stumbling out of the traps with four defeats in their first five games. Their form has picked up significantly since then although the 4/5 shots face a tricky fixture at home to third-placed Northampton, who are 15/4 for victory at Edgeley Park.

Stockport have won seven of their last 10 in the league but they lost 1-0 at Grimsby on New Year's Day and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Walsall at home last weekend and those results should encourage the Cobblers.

Northampton are the highest scorers in the division with 40 goals in 25 matches and they have shown their defensive quality in two meetings with leaders Leyton Orient, drawing 0-0 in October before a 1-0 win over the O's on 2nd January.

Northampton could be worth supporting at 12/5 Draw No Bet given that they have already won testing away fixtures at Stevenage, Bradford and Swindon this term.

And Cobblers forward Sam Hoskins is of interest at 17/2 in the First Goalscorer betting as he has scored 16 goals in 20 League Two appearances this season, including one in Northampton's 2-1 home win over Stevenage in September.

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