Football League Tips | 18th February 2015

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MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) picks out two bets from Wednesday night’s domestic card.

Birmingham City v Middlesbrough | Wednesday 19.45

Middlesbrough’s 10-match unbeaten streak was ended by Arsenal on Sunday with boss Aitor Karanka suggesting his side might have suffered from ‘overconfidence’ at the Emirates. Next up is a tough trip to Birmingham as they bid to win back their place at the top of the Championship table.

Boro had bagged eight wins in that 10-game spell, including six on the spin, but I’m not prepared to invest my faith in the Teesiders at 23/20. Wednesday night’s duel is the fourth match of seven across three weeks for Karanka’s men and the Spaniard is expected to rotate his squad.

Middlesbrough stayed in London after Sunday’s defeat and have been using Chelsea’s training facilities before heading to St Andrews and although the visitors boast the second best away record in the division, holes can be picked in their recent results.

Their last league fixture on the road ended in a 2-1 success over rock bottom Blackpool that required a late winner and previously they were outplayed by Brentford despite stealing the points with a penalty. Head back further and Boro have been held to goalless draws at Reading and Blackburn as well as a 2-0 loss at Ipswich.

Yes, their last 11 away days in the Championship have ended in W4-D5-L2 whilst their road trips to top-half clubs have resulted in W1-D1-L3. With Birmingham level on points with 12th-placed Leeds, I’m happy to bung Gary Rowett’s hosts in as a top-12 team.

The Blues can be backed at 3/4 with 888 Sport in the Double Chance market and that appeals. The Second City club have W9-D4-L1 in their last 14 against the Teesiders at St Andrews, scoring at least twice in seven of their previous 10 when entertaining Boro. I don’t envisage anything quite so emphatic but I’ve plenty of faith in Birmingham getting a result.

Rowett’s team were distinctly second best in their last outing (0-1 at home to Millwall) and it’s rare to see the former Burton boss oversee successive poor performances. In his 16 league games in charge at the Blues, the new man has returned impressive figures – W7-D6-L3. It’s play-off form over a 46-game season and is hugely encouraging for Birmingham supporters.

The hosts are without a win in six matches now but they should be good enough to shake-off the off-field distractions and collect at least a point on Wednesday night. Middlesbrough are an excellent side, but don’t write off the Blues.

Leyton Orient v Bradford City | Wednesday 19.45

Bradford’s fairytale cup run shows no sign of stopping after they convincingly saw off Sunderland at Valley Parade. It was just another feather in the cap of manager Phil Parkinson but the Bantams boss will be determined not to let their league form dip.

The last time the Yorkshire side enjoyed cup success they married League Two promotion alongside a League Cup final appearance and I’m hopeful Parkinson can keep Bradford on the right path in League One this season. The Bantams are two points off a play-off place with their trip to Leyton Orient the first of two games in-hand.

There’s certainly no way I’m willing to walk away from Parky’s charges. 888 Sport are offering 5/6 on the away team in the Draw No Bet market and that’s good enough for me.

Bradford can call upon the fourth best away record in the third tier (W6-D4-L3), keeping clean sheets in five of those 13 fixtures. What’s more, the Bantams have suffered defeats in just two of their last 18 outings (W11-D5-L2) in all competitions.

Hosts Orient stopped the losing rot with a 3-2 away win at Chesterfield on Saturday but Fabio Liverani’s men benefitted from a surprisingly subdued performance from the Spireites. Dean Cox’s stoppage-time winning was just their third win in 12 but eight of those 12 matches ended in defeat.

The rumblings coming out of Brisbane Road are of huge concern for O’s fans too. Reports suggest the players are needing to hold their own team-talks and tactics sessions, (in some cases, in the tunnel before matches) due to the lack of preparation from their Italian head coach and with nine defeats from 14 home games, I just can’t find a reason not to oppose Orient this midweek.

Best Bets

Birmingham City v Middlesbrough – Birmingham City double chance (3/4 888 Sport)

Leyton Orient v Bradford City – Bradford City draw no bet (5/6 888 Sport)

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After starting his career in newspaper journalism, Mark soon found his way into the online betting world, forging a career in content, social media and marketing production. With a huge passion for stats, the Football League and European football, Mark’s other interests include playing rugby, following his beloved QPR and travel.

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