MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) has examined Tuesday’s Football League card to find his three favourite bets.
Middlesbrough v Bolton Wanderers | Tuesday 19.45
Aitor Karanka was understandably frustrated after Middlesbrough’s weekend defeat at home to Leeds. The Boro boss saw his side dominate proceedings after going a goal down early on but an inspired display from visiting stopper Marco Silvestri and a resilient performance from Neil Redfearn’s youngsters managed to see the Whites over the line.
To be honest, I had little sympathy for Karanka and Boro. It was their sixth match of seven across a three-week spell and the Spanish boss chose to make a raft of changes, including leaving Lee Tomlin and Patrick Bamford on the bench. A certain degree of continuity has been lost to Middlesbrough’s play recently and I can’t help but feel the constant chopping and changing has had an adverse effect.
It’s also worth pointing out that, not so long ago the Teesiders were played off the park at Brentford but managed to steal all three points and I’m a big advocate behind the old saying that these sort of results and performances will even themselves out over the course of a season.
So despite sticking the boot into Boro, they are part of my selection process this midweek. They’re back at the Riverside for the visit of a Bolton side that’s been shipping far too many goals of late and I fancy the home side to take advantage. I’ve zero interest in quotes around the 1/2 mark but I’ve been totally seduced by SkyBet’s 4/6 that Middlesbrough score Over 1.5 Goals.
Karanka’s men fired in 27 shots on Saturday and although Kike and Albert Adomah failed to finish the best of their weekend chances, the law of averages suggest Boro will find their shooting boots sooner rather than later. The hosts have won 9/15 (56%) of their Championship games at the Riverside but they’ve actually notched two or more goals in 10/15 (67%).
Bolton were taken apart by Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Saturday as Neil Lennon’s side had Matt Mills sent off plus defender Tim Ream and goalkeeper Andy Lonergan stretchered off. Emile Heskey was forced into a makeshift role in central defence but in truth, the game was up for the Trotters in the first 45 minutes.
Assistant Johan Mjallby hit the nail on the head when he said, “we’re having to score three or four goals just to get a point” because of the catalogue of defensive mishaps with the visitors failing to keep a clean sheet since before Christmas. Bolton’s opposition have netted at least twice in five of their last six league outings (18 in total) as well as in 9/16 away days this season.
With the treatment table full, Mills now suspended and a determined Middlesbrough side with a point to prove lying in wait, I think the 4/6 on offer is a touch too big and I’ll be investing accordingly.
Preston North End v Walsall | Tuesday 19.45
Preston’s 2-0 win over Scunthorpe on Saturday sent my Both Teams To Score punt down the drain and reading the reports from that Deepdale clash it’s clear that Scunny weren’t at the races. Boss Mark Robins claimed his side looked “leggy” and were comfortably beaten on the day.
It was Preston’s third consecutive League One victory ‘to nil’ and keeps the Lilywhites within six points of the automatic promotion places with two games in hand over MK Dons. The first of which is Tuesday’s clash against plucky Walsall and I believe the angle here is to expect few goals.
BetVictor are offering even-money on Under 2.25 Goals on the Asian Goals line and that looks the smartest play. We’ll make money should the fixture feature fewer than three goals; banking a full payout if one or zero are netted or half of that potential payout if exactly two are plundered. Make sense?
Simon Grayson’s hosts boast the fourth best home record in the league (W8-D6-L1) but it’s interesting to see that only 5/15 (33%) matches have broken the two-goal barrier with the 2-2 draw against Leyton Orient on 31st January the only game since November to see goal-hungry punters collect. Home and away, Preston’s games have produced just 3/13 Over 2.5 Goals winners now and they’re unlikely to be given an easy ride from a more than capable Walsall team led by the uber shrewd Dean Smith.
The Saddlers are a serious threat on the road. Their streetwise approach means their a menace on the counter but organised and resolute in defence when giving up possession to more dominant sides. It’s a philosophy that’s reaped plenty of rewards for Smith’s side, who remain unbeaten away to top-eight sides (W3-D2-L0).
In fact, Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Bradford saw Walsall concede just their third away goal in seven outings and was also the 10th occasion in 15 fixtures on the road that the Saddlers had seen fewer than three goals. Six of their previous seven away days would have made us money backing this selection and I’m not going to desert it now.
Accrington Stanley v Burton Albion | Tuesday 19.45
Well, I got Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink wrong. Following Gary Rowett’s departure I thought Burton’s decision to bring in the former Chelsea striker was a huge gamble that could derail the Brewers’ promotion bid. But blimey, he’s galvanised the side and taken them to the top of the table!
Saturday’s 3-1 victory at Dagenham, coupled with Shrewsbury’s defeat at Tranmere means Burton head to Accrington on top of the tree and defending a ruddy marvellous record under their Dutch boss. The Brewers have now W10-D5-L1 of the 16 League Two matches under Hasselbaink’s watch and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of interest in the away side at 13/10.
But I’m going to look elsewhere. It’s the 11/10 (SkyBet) on Both Teams To Score that’s floating my boat as I’m expecting a response from Accrington after manager John Coleman gave his team a rollicking following their Friday draw with Cheltenham. The Stanley supremo laid into his side for their slack defensive errors and wayward finishing but they’re still creating chances, which should encourage home supporters.
The hosts have a nine-point cushion above the relegation zone and snapped a five-match losing streak with seven points from nine so arrive at the Crown Ground in buoyant mood despite Coleman’s stinging criticism. And Accrington have a great record in front of goal, scoring in all bar one home fixture since the opening day.
However, just four clean sheets in 31 outings have hampered their progress and Burton should have no problems netting. The table-toppers have scored in all eight visits to bottom-half clubs this season but can only vouch for two clean sheets in their 16 road trips, 11 of which saw BTTS backers collect.
Accy have seen 10 of their 15 Crown Ground outings feature Both Teams To Score and marry the two home and away trends together and we can see 21/31 games have featured BTTS, which returns a 67% ratio and implied odds of around 4/6. We’re getting 11/10, so snap up a great value price.
Middlesbrough v Bolton Wanderers – Middlesbrough to score Over 1.5 Goals (4/6 SkyBet)
Preston North End v Walsall – Under 2.25 Goals on the Asian Goals line (1/1 BetVictor)
Accrington Stanley v Burton Albion – Both Teams To Score (11/10 SkyBet)
What are you backing on Tuesday night in the Football League? Think you’ve found a corker that Mark hasn’t mentioned?
We’d love to hear your views so let us know in the comments box below.