HAVING given us a full house of winners from the Football League on Easter Monday, Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) looks to continue his fine recent form with three bets from Saturday’s card.
Millwall v Watford | Saturday 15.00
Millwall’s unbeaten streak against South London neighbours Charlton stretches back to 1996 and the Lions picked up a precious three points against the Addicks on Good Friday to keep their survival dreams alive. Jos Hooiveld’s 87th minute strike secured the 2-1 victory and Neil Harris will be hoping for more of the same when Watford arrive.
It was only the Londoners second home Championship win in 18 matches. It’s a run that spans more than six months of league football but Millwall were playing against 10-men for over an hour after Chris Solley was sent off for the visitors for a deliberate handball. Performances have certainly improved under Harris’ stewardship but the Lions will be given a serious test on Saturday.
In-form Watford are chasing automatic promotion in one of the tightest battles at the top of the second tier in years. The Hornets were well worthy of their 2-0 success over high-flying rivals Middlesbrough on Easter Monday and having won 10/20 (50%) of their away fixtures this term, are trading at odds-on to win this showdown.
The visitors have won nine of their last 13 outings and have scored at least twice in their last six on the road; avoiding defeat in all six. I expect Slavisa Jokanovic’s men to assert their authority on the game and clinch a vital three points but those that know me well enough will know, I won’t be getting involved on the away side at odds-on quotes.
Instead, I’m keen to take the 2/1 from Boylesports that Watford win and Over 2.5 Goals. The Hornets have seen three goals or more in 12/20 (60%) of their road trips this term, keeping only six clean sheets but plundering two or more themselves on 11 occasions. It would be a surprise if they didn’t add to that tally this weekend.
We’ve already mentioned Millwall’s disastrous form at The Den and in six previous encounters with top-eight clubs on home soil, the Lions have returned D1-L5, leaking 20 goals in the process. Tie that in with their record of 11/20 (55%) home fixtures breaking the two-goal barrier and you can see why I reckon the 2/1 price is well worth a poke.
Oldham Athletic v Sheffield United | Saturday 15.00
I’ve whinged and whined about Sheffield United and Nigel Clough enough in recent weeks to know it’s probably a good time to leave that topic alone. I’m unconvinced, I’m disappointed and I feel a little let down. After all, the Blades were the 5/1 favourites to top League One back in August. Yeah, they were that short!
So rather than dwell on any more Clough bashing (yes, he’s done a great job in stabilising the club. I know, I know), I’m keen to explore a goals angle that’s proven fairly fruitful for this column in recent months. Both Teams To Score has been chalked up at 17/20 by BetVictor and that price just looks far too big. It’s value!
The visitors are unbeaten in seven away days now as they bid to cement their play-off place but it’s their lack of clean sheets that’s again captured my imagination. Only four have been kept in 20 road trips this term and so it’s probably unsurprising to hear that BTTS has banked in 13/20 (65%) of Sheffield United’s away games, including six of that unbeaten seven game streak.
Steven Davies has made a positive impact since his loan move from Blackpool whilst Jose Baxter continues to display talent arguably too good for the third tier. The League One giants snapped up Rochdale’s hot-shot Matty Done at the end of the transfer window and can still call upon Jamie Murphy and Marc McNulty; it’s an embarrassment of riches the bulk of the division can’t compete with.
So firepower shouldn’t be a problem for the Blades but as we’ve already mentioned, Clough’s charges remain unconvincing at the back. They’ll need to be at their best to keep out an Oldham team that boast an excellent record in front of goal at Boundary Park on Saturday.
The Latics have netted in 16/20 (80%) of their home games including against Bristol City, MK Dons, Swindon, Rochdale and Barnsley in recent weeks but their return of just four clean sheets across the same spread doesn’t reflect well. With goals commonplace at both ends, the BTTS bet has proven successful in 13/20 (65%) of Oldham’s matches as hosts.
So with both teams averaging a 65% win rate in the Both Teams To Score column, a repeat should be around the 8/15 mark. BetVictor are allowing us back it at 17/20; you don’t need me to tell you, that’s huge value!
Plymouth Argyle v Mansfield Town | Saturday 15.00
This is probably the easiest selection to explain and it will probably be my weekend NAP. Plymouth are normally solid and strong at Home Park and are entertaining a Mansfield side with the league’s worst away record. Quite simply, it’s a home win.
Coral have made Argyle 5/6 shots and that’s good enough for me. Paul Sheridan’s men have won 11/20 (55%) of their home League Two matches and although their recent run of just two wins in nine could be conceived as off-putting, the Pilgrims have faced a tough run of fixtures.
Burton, Newport, Northampton and Bury were the last four visitors to the Devon club but when the Greens welcome the league’s lesser lights, the outcome is usually fairly straightforward. Argyle have W9-D2-L2 when hosting teams below them in the table and have already kept a whopping 12 clean sheets in their Home Park games this term.
Sheridan’s issued the rallying war cry to Plymouth supporters, describing their next two fixtures against the Stags and Wimbledon at home as “massive matches” with six points “vital” if they’re to secure a top-seven spot and I believe they’re well capable of solving the first part of that puzzle on Saturday.
Adam Murray’s Mansfield men have W3-D4-L13 of their 20 road matches, failing to even score in half of those fixtures. And Town’s record at top-half clubs reads W2-L9 with an aggregate score of 6-20. The visitors have taken four points on their travels in 2015 and head to the West Country on the back of four consecutive defeats.
Sitting just six points above the dreaded drop zone, things should get uglier for Mansfield this weekend with Plymouth looking a tasty option at 5/6 to send more dark clouds over the Nottinghamshire club.
Millwall v Watford – Watford to win and Over 2.5 Goals (2/1 Boylesports)
Oldham Athletic v Sheffield United – Both Teams To Score (17/20 BetVictor)
Plymouth Argyle v Mansfield Town – Plymouth to win (5/6 Coral)