THE FA Cup third round takes centre stage this weekend. We asked Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) for his best bet from Friday’s curtain-raiser.
Cardiff City v Colchester United Tips | Friday 19.45 | BBC Wales
Two teams at a low ebb in their Football League quests lock horns for a Friday night scrap in the Welsh capital. It’s not a punting match for the feint-hearted but the bookmakers are heavily favouring the hosts with Cardiff just 9/20 march on to the fourth round.
The Bluebirds’ FA Cup pedigree isn’t anything to get excited about, mind. Their last eight games in the competition have brought about a W2-D1-L5 record. When playing at home it reads W4-D4-L2 dating back to 2005.
Confidence in Russell Slade as a manager is also beginning to dissipate. The former Leyton Orient boss was supposed to sharpen up the Cardiff defence but opposition sides have netted 13 goals in the last four games against the Bluebirds. And they can only boast four clean sheets in 24 league outings since relegation to the second tier.
It’s that fragile defence that I’m keen to use to my advantage. Cardiff have W2-D1-L4 in their last seven Championship games and Slade’s starting to feel the heat. The capital club are a vulnerable beast and averaging 1.50 goals-per-game against when playing at the Cardiff City Stadium, keeping 2/12 home clean sheets.
The home side have also kept just one clean sheet in nine FA Cup fixtures and with Both Teams To Score rated a 19/20 chance with Ladbrokes, I’m happy to have a nibble at that price.
Colchester are just a point off the bottom of League One but will fancy their chances. The visitors are 15/2 to pull off an upset but it’s worth noting they’ve managed just three wins from 17 games against higher-division sides in the FA Cup (W3-D6-L8).
However, we’re focusing on goals and it’s encouraging to see the U’s have notched in 17/23 matches in League One this season and had BTTS winners in all three tips to the league’s leading teams – Bristol City, Preston and MK Dons.
Tony Humes’ team hit the woodwork three times in their goalless draw at Crawley on Sunday and have sharp-shooting Freddie Sears up front alongside Gavin Massey with George Moncur causing problems from midfield. It’s an attack well capable of causing Cardiff’s creaky defence more problems.
Cardiff City v Colchester United – Both Teams To Score (19/20 Ladbrokes)