MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) returns with three bets from the Football League to enjoy this weekend, covering the Championship, League One and League Two.
Fulham v Blackburn | Saturday 15.00
It’s quite easy to look at Fulham and bet against them – just one point from 21 since relegation and yes, Felix Magath’s era looks to be coming to an end very soon. But they do deserve a touch more credit (stop laughing in the corner)…
They fought back well from an awful start at Nottingham Forest in midweek and although they lost, there were signs of life in that 5-3 defeat. And their last home fixture they deserved more than a point against Cardiff.
But rather than risk my money on the match odds, I want a bit of the 10/11 on Over 2.5 Goals with Boylesports this weekend. Fulham’s three home games have all gone Under 2.5 but they are yet to keep a clean sheet with Championship fixtures averaging 3.43 goals-per-game which is encouraging.
And this bet comes to life when you look at Blackburn, who’ve made a very inconsistent start. Rovers’ seven league games have seen both teams score in all seven with 6/7 featuring three goals or more. The average goals-per-game is at 3.86 and if we include the backend of last season, 9/10 Blackburn league games have seen Over 2.5 Goals bank, as have their last 10 away with two or more conceded in eight of those 10!
Swindon v Sheffield Utd | Saturday 15.00
Swindon have been collecting a lot of praise again this season for their style of play under boss Mark Cooper and they’ve made a solid start with just one defeat from their opening seven matches. This weekend Sheffield Utd travel to the County Ground with the Blades sitting just one place above their hosts and again, goals are on my agenda.
Both Teams To Score looks to be priced up on Sheffield Utd’s clean sheet record towards the tail end of last season. The Blades have kept just two shutouts in seven League One games this term (at home to Crawley and Rochdale) and although on the road Nigel Clough’s men have faced tough assignments at Peterborough, Preston, Coventry and then Colchester in midweek, they do look like they can be ‘got at’.
United themselves have scored in 6/7 meaning 4/7 League One games have seen both teams net which tallies well with their hosts. Only Crawley have managed to stop Swindon scoring but the Robins have just one clean sheet to their name – at home to Crewe – making it 5/7 league fixtures that have seen both teams score. Add the two teams’ records together and you’ve got 9/14 Both Teams To Score matches, a healthy 64%!
Mansfield v Carlisle | Saturday 15.00
Mansfield entertain rock-bottom Carlisle and the hosts are odds-against! Yes!
Since relegation, Carlisle have W0 D3 L5. They’ve failed to score in five and leaked 18 goals (averaging over 2-goals-per-game). Away from home, the visitors have taken one point from 12, scored once and leaked nine! It was the same story in their relegation season of 2013-14 – the Cumbrians lost 14 of their 23 fixtures on the road, failing to net in 11 and conceding 44!
Quite rightly, there’s big concerns at Brunton Park that this alarming start could lead to successive relegations and the loss of their Football League status. Graham Kavanagh was axed but caretaker boss Tony Caig can’t stop the rot and has said publicly he doesn’t have the answers.
So let’s have a look at Mansfield. The Stags beat high-flying Morecambe at home in midweek with a last-minute winner but Paul Cox was delighted with his team’s display as they dominated the game for large spells. In fact, Mansfield had 16 shots compared to Morecambe’s two!
They’ve now won three of their four home league games with only table-toppers Burton leaving Field Mill with anything so back the Stags to pile more misery on Carlisle.
Fulham v Blackburn – Over 2.5 Goals (10/11 Boylesports)
Swindon v Sheffield Utd – Both Teams To Score (17/20 Ladbrokes)
Mansfield v Carlisle – Mansfield to win (11/10 Coral)