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League One latest: Grayson good for another promotion at Preston

| 03.11.2014

Blackpool, Leeds United and Huddersfield Town have all benefited from having Simon Grayson as their boss in League One. Those previous promotions from English football’s third-tier are compelling evidence that the Preston North End manager knows his way around this division.

Preston, who are 3/1 title chances and odds-on at 8/11 to go up with Coral, can close the gap on league leaders Bristol City (13/10 outright) and increase their cushion in an automatic elevation place by beating Swindon Town away.

The West Country club sit fifth among a chasing pack of seven sides headed by MK Dons. Mark Coopers’ men, who are 10/3 for promotion, are not even favourites to beat North End in their November 4th encounter, despite the lengthy trip Grayson and company face.

Swindon are 17/10 for three home points here, but Preston are just ahead of them in the match betting at 8/5. Grayson will be looking to belie North End’s poor record against Town, with odds of 9/4 for a draw.

In Joe Garner, Preston have a proven scorer at this level, and he is 5/1 to finish the season as League One’s leading marksman. He will be a danger that Swindon’s defence must try to stop.

Karl Robinson and the Dons’ promotion chances (13/8), meanwhile, may hinge on hanging onto talented teenage midfielder Delle Ali, as well as loan star strikers Benik Afobe and Will Grigg. Rochdale are perhaps the surprise package of the division under Keith Hill, with their shoestring budget proving no obstacle to Spotland’s small but loyal support dreaming of going up (6/1).

While punters may rightly feel neither they nor Notts County (14/1) will have the stamina to maintain a promotion push, there is definitely more to come from Peterborough United (4/1) and Sheffield United (2/1) in this regard. Both were among the pre-season favourites to go up, and only sit outside the play-off places on goal difference a third of the way through this term.

Posh are in a relative slump of three straight defeats, while the Blades would be in the automatic promotion picture had they not lost local derbies to Barnsley and Chesterfield in recent weeks. Oldham Athletic (10/1 to go up) join ambitious Fleetwood Town in completing the top half and those currently in contention for a top six finish.

There’s little notion of mid-table in the way this division is shaping up this season, with the aforementioned Spireites and Tykes among seven sides that are three to five points above the drop. While there’s more to come from Bradford City and Doncaster Rovers, among others, teams from Colchester United (2/1) and down are in real relegation danger.

Leyton Orient look temptingly long, for example, at 7/1 for the drop, because their fortunes have dipped dramatically since reaching the play-off final in May. Influential manager Russell Slade has gone, so the Brisbane Road boys could see their slide continue.

While the odds suggest sides like West Midlands pair Coventry City and Walsall will be alright, Crawley Town (7/4) could take a tumble from a perch of relative safety, with manager John Gregory considering his poistion. Four go down from League One, and current incumbents Scunthrope United (13/8), Gillingham (10/11), Yeovil Town (7/4) and Crewe Alexandra (odds-on 2/5 favourites) should all continue to struggle.

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Jamie Clark

Athletics aficionado, die-hard snooker fan and Crystal Palace supporter Jamie has written for Coral since February 2014 after spells with Soccerlens and the Press Association as a digital journalist and copywriter. A former East Midlands sports correspondent and Bwin tipster, he is a graduate of both the University of York and University of Sheffield, with a Masters in web journalism from the latter.