Quakers praying for victory
Dave Penney takes his Darlington side to Valley Parade on Monday night to face Bradford knowing that a win would take them up to second and just three points behind League 2 leaders Wycombe.
Darlington have won four of their last five matches including an away win over promotion rivals Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday, but they need to keep the run going as just six points separate nine teams in the promotion race.
Darlo currently find themselves in fourth place with Monday's opponents Bradford in seventh just two points behind. The Quakers are currently priced at 13/2 for the League 2 title with Bradford 12/1 shots.
In the match betting the away side can be backed at 6/4 to claim the three points with the draw at 9/4 and the home win available at 7/5.
Last season Darlington looked well-placed to achieve automatic promotion before a terrible run, which admittedly coincided with injuries to key strikers, meant they faltered towards the end of the campaign and missed out on automatic promotion and instead had to be content with a play-off place. And from there, the Quakers lost to Rochdale in the semi-finals.
After their play-off defeat the new season started with promise as Darlington were third favourites to win the title and on the most part Penney's side have justified their promise.
To aid their promotion push Darlo drafted in the help of strikers Liam Hatch (on loan from Peterborough) and Billy Clarke (on loan from Ipswich). Between them they have scored 18 goals between them in all competitions, but Clarke returned to his parent club before being loaned out again this time to Northampton, but Hatch will remain at the club until the end of the season.
As well as Hatch Darlington's striking options include Danny Carlton, who is on loan from Carlisle, and Pawel Abbott. Ex-Huddersfield and Swansea man Abbott has been absent due to injury for most of the season but returned to fitness in late December.
Abbott looks a cracking bet at 2/1 to score at anytime during the 90 minutes, especially when compared with Carlton and Hatch who are both shorter at 15/8.
Whilst Darlington have so far lived up to their promise, Bradford have started to disappoint in recent weeks, winning just two of their last ten matches. This run has seen them drop from second in the table to seventh.
Although the Bantams did get three points on Saturday at home to strugglers Grimsby, who, if it wasn't for the huge point deductions handed out to Bournemouth and Luton at the start of the season, would currently find themselves bottom.
Bradford have improved since last season, when despite pre-season predictions of an immediate return to League 1, following their relegation, they were on the whole unimpressive finishing in tenth.
Nevertheless the Bradford board stuck with fans' favourite and Neil Warnock's former Sheffield United side-kick Stuart McCall.
Over the summer Bradford brought in the prolific Michael Boulding, midfielder Paul McLaren and defender Graeme Lee amongst others. The Bantams were second favourites for the title before a ball was kicked and although in recent weeks they have been disappointing the players at McCall's disposable are more than good enough to get promotion for the West Yorkshire side.
Out of fifteen league matches at Valley Parade Bradford have drawn an incredible seven so far and the outcome of Monday's match could well be the eighth with the 9/4 about a draw the preference.
Veteran Peter Thorne leads the Bradford goalscoring charts with 11, closely followed by Michael Boulding and ex-Darlington player Barry Conlon who have scored nine each. But Thorne is woefully out-of-form in front of goal as he is without a goal since 1st November.
Therefore Thorne must be opposed in the scoring betting. Wide-man Omar Daley looks a bit of value at 5/1 to score at any point during the match. The Jamaican admittedly hasn't been in the best of form in front of goal with just three to his name this season but if he can use his pace and trickery to good effect then he should deliver the goods.
Whatever happens in the match it should be a great advert for League 2 football as both sides need the points to aid their bids for promotion.
Be sure to join us for the 19:45 kick-off - when the action gets underway you'll still be able to get a bet on. Whatever happens in the match, our betlive service will have all the angles covered.