CHRIS Graham (@ChrisGraham79) and Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) are back in the pub to dissect this weekend’s best Football League bets…
Nottingham Forest v Brighton | Saturday 15.00
Nottingham Forest have surprised me. Topping the table after eight games, reaming unbeaten with five wins – it’s been impressive. They’ve also scored 17 goals in that period – 12 of which have come in four games at the City Ground. They hit Fulham for five, Reading for four, scored twice against Blackpool and once in the derby with umm… Derby.
I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to oppose Forest but it won’t be this week. Reports suggest they haven’t actually been all that good and a Millwall supporting friend said they were very ordinary last time out. But next up is Brighton and the Seagulls have been well below their standards of the last two years.
Yes, the budget has been cut, yes the squad is weaker and yes they’re in a bit of transition but I thought the Sami Hypia appointment wasn’t quite what they required and they’re in an odd position. Results have been ropey – just two wins in eight – and on the road they’ve lost three from four, including at Birmingham! Nobody loses at St Andrews, apparently.
But the bet here is to be with Forest to score Over 1.5 Goals at 23/20 with Coral. It’s been a winner in 5/8 of the Tricky Tees’ games including 3/4 at the City Ground whilst Brighton have conceded 2+ in 3/4 matches now themselves. Forest hit 2+ in 11/23 home games last season and they’re a much more threatening attacking unit now with the twin threat of Britt Assombalonga and Michail Antonio carving up Championship defences.
Barnsley v Swindon | Saturday 15.00
Swindon trounced Sheffield United 5-2 last weekend to give us a winning Both Teams To Score bet and the Robins were a feature in our Weekend Debrief too. Why? Well, they look a touch undervalued in the promotion betting stakes IF they can sort out their wobbly away record (they’ve won just 6/26 away league games).
That stodgy road record is enough to ignore them at Barnsley so instead I’ve opted for a bet in the goals market with BetVictor offering some outstanding value for Over 2.5 Goals at 39/40. The Tykes have had a rough ride since relegation, winning just two of their eight league outings but the goals trend has remained constant.
Barnsley have scored seven and conceded seven in their three home fixtures and last time out they were 5-0 down to MK Dons before making the scoreline a little less embarrassing with three late goals. It means Danny Wilson’s men have seen 5/8 matches feature Over 2.5 Goals as they’ve now scored in 6/8 and kept just the one clean sheet.
Mark Cooper’s visitors may have recorded four wins and one defeat from their first eight games but 6/8 have seen Both Teams Score and they’ve fired in two or more goals in 6/8 League One fixtures too. Those trends have led to 5/8 of Swindon’s games seeing the Over 2.5 Goal barrier broken including their last three.
Exeter v Bury | Saturday 15.00
I’ve had nightmares picking my League Two bet. There are so many great betting opportunities – Accrington are a huge price against a Plymouth side that could be missing Reuben Reid and Peter Hartley, Portsmouth are chunky for their trip to Hartlepool and then Bury are attractive for their trip to Exeter.
Exeter-Bury gets the nod but even here there are many options – back Both Teams To Score at 10/11 with BetVictor? Bury to win at 23/20 or even Bury + Both Teams To Score at 17/4? They’re all runners but in the end I went for a play on both teams netting.
The hosts have had their transfer embargo lifted and manager Paul Tisdale’s proving why he’s such an excellent lower league boss. After three draws and four defeats he’s guided them to back-to-back wins and they’re now unbeaten in three. They’re no easy nut to crack at home either – just one loss from four outings with Pompey and York both failing to come away with maximum points.
So looking at the BTTS stats then… the Grecians have yet to keep a clean sheet in League Two football this season but scored in all four games at St James’ Park and scored twice in their last two outings on the road. They’ll also be encouraged by the fact that table-topping Bury have kept a modest three shutouts in their eight games thus far.
Worryingly, all three came on Bury’s travels and they were outstanding when ripping Hartlepool and Carlisle apart in away games but this is a rejuvenated Exeter side who should pose more problems. The visitors Shakers have scored at least twice in 6/8 league games and shouldn’t have too many problems fulfilling their part of the bargain.