IT’S been another fabulous season of Football League action. Into the final furlong, Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) goes in search of more winners from a packed Tuesday card.
Sheffield Wednesday v Brentford | Tuesday 19.45
None of the Brentford players nor management shied away from the big-talking point on Saturday. Having dominated their away fixture at promotion rivals Derby before succumbing to a late equaliser, tempers were raised in the Bees dressing room post-match.
Manager Mark Warburton confirmed heated words were used after the game and quite rightly so. The visitors had numerous chances to kill off the Rams with top scorer Andre Gray boring the brunt of the criticism having squandered three decent chances. Brentford had 17 attempts at the iPro Stadium and I’m certain they’ll bounce back in positive fashion.
The Bees boss will have been thrilled with the performance, despite the damaging result. And although Warburton will be leaving Griffin Park this summer, you’d be a fool to think both he and his squad of players aren’t desperate to, firstly finish in the top-six, and secondly, complete a stunning season by earning back-to-back promotions.
Brentford’s identity under the former city trader continues to impress. Their high-tempo, short-passing game is a joy to watch and their lightning quick transitions and counter-attack is a real danger to opposition defences. And whilst on-loan Spurs magician Alex Pritchard deservedly hogs the headlines for a string of dazzling displays, defensive shield Toumani Diagouraga has been a hugely important cog in the Bees relentless wheel.
You won’t be too surprised to hear that I fancy them at 11/8 (BetVictor) to turn Sheffield Wednesday over on Tuesday night. The Owls record of W4-D11-L6 sees them 21st in the home table and that’s solely down their terrible record in front of goal. Stuart Gray’s men have scored just 14 goals at Hillsborough this season; four of those were penalties with 10 overall being sourced from set-pieces.
Wednesday’s season is as good as over and their tailing off with typical end-of-season form for a middle-of-the-road side. Their last seven read W2-D3-L2 and poor finishing cost them maximum points on Saturday when Charlton visited. And stopper Keiren Westwood was forced into enough saves to suggest Brentford could also have some joy this midweek.
The pitch won’t suit the Bees free-flowing football but their W10-D3-L8 return on the road suggests they have no problem adapting to away assignments. It’s the fourth best record in the Championship and Warburton’s charges have only failed to net three times since October; one goal could be enough against the shot-shy hosts.
With 85% of goals generally coming from inside the penalty area, the Bees are averaging 13.5 shots-per-game on their travels; a very healthy 51% of those efforts have come from inside the 18-yard box. And of the 30 goals they’ve accumulated away from home, 23 have been netted from open play, illustrating how dangerous this Brentford team are. I’ll have them at 11/8 to keep their Premier League dream alive.
Fleetwood Town v MK Dons | Tuesday 19.45
Fleetwood lost vital ground in the race for a top-six finish on Saturday when going down 1-0 at Walsall. Graham Alexander’s men were poor but the Scot was adamant his side should have seen the game out. The 1-0 loss leaves the Cod Army five points adrift of the play-off places with four games to play.
Spirits will certainly have been dampened by the weekend reverse but should Fleet be as big as 18/5 to beat MK Dons on Tuesday night? I certainly don’t think so. The home side have lost just four of their 21 League One matches as hosts and held Preston, Bristol City, Sheffield United and Swindon at Highbury already this season.
In fact, in their 10 fixtures against top-half sides this term, Fleetwood have returned W2-D6-L1 figures. I’m keen to get them onside as I’m sure Alexander will keep the team focussed on the job in hand. Current sixth-placed occupiers Chesterfield still have to face Bristol City and Sheffield United, which should keep Town buoyed and alive in that play-off race.
The Dons head north on the back of a six-game unbeaten streak but a poor performance at free-falling Port Vale on Saturday proved they’re far from the real deal on the road. Karl Robinson’s men managed just one shot-on-target (in the 85th minute) and were second best throughout in a pretty forgettable game.
MK have failed to record three points in 12/21 (57%) of their away fixtures this season and take out results against the bottom-four, the Dons have W5-D7-L5. A 3-0 victory at Swindon recently disguises the fact that Robinson’s team were second-best for large chunks of that game and the scoreline certainly flattered the visitors.
I’m well aware the weekend’s showing was below their normal high standards, the fact Robinson’s now got an almost fully fit squad to choose from again and of course they’re still battling for automatic promotion. But would I be backing them at odds-on quotes against a Fleetwood side that’s lost 4/21 (19%) on home soil? Hell no.
I’ll take the Cod Army +0.50 in the Asian Handicap market with BetVictor. Should the home side avoid defeat, we’ll have ourselves a winner – it’s a bet and market that’s pretty much identical to the Double Chance.
Southend United v Newport County | Tuesday 19.45
I’ve watched extensive highlights of Southend’s home clash with Tranmere from Saturday and I have to say, the Shimpers were a touch lucky that Rovers can’t score for toffee. Visiting boss Micky Adams was inconsolable at full-time as the team from the Wirral again let points slip through their hands when they probably deserved more.
But for Southend, it was another giant three points to keep them on the road for promotion. Phil Brown was full of praise for young goalkeeper Daniel Bentley who equalled a club record with a 10th consecutive clean sheet between the sticks at Roots Hall, but it was in-form forward Barry Corr who netted the only goal of the game.
Corr will be absent for the Tuesday night visit from Newport and I have to say, it looks like County’s own play-off dream is finally dying. Ever since Justin Edinburgh left for Gillingham, I’ve been looking to oppose them and after successive 2-0 defeats to Bury and Exeter, the Exiles have finally fallen out of the top-seven.
It’s now just W4-D4-L9 for Newport in their previous 17 league outings and in eight of those nine matches they’ve failed to even score. But throw four clean sheets into the equation and you’ll notice only five of those games resulted in Both Teams To Score winners. It’s a trend that’s remained relatively constant in County’s away trips too.
On the road this season, only 6/21 of the Exiles’ fixtures have resulted in BTTS, including only two of their last nine on their travels. It’s a trend that marries nicely with Southend’s home games; a whopping 17/21 Roots Hall matches have seen the Both Teams To Score bet fail, winning just twice since October.
That means 76% of those hosts’ home games have featured a big fat ‘No’ in the Both Teams To Score market and the same outcome in 71% of Newport’s away fixtures. Putting the two trends together, we should expect around a 74% chance of a repeat on Tuesday night, the equivalent of a 7/20 shot.
The good fellows at Betway are offering ‘No’ in the BTTS column at 3/4; it’s value and it’s a bet I’m taking.
Sheffield Wednesday v Brentford – Brentford to win (11/8 BetVictor)
Fleetwood Town v MK Dons – Fleetwood Town +0.50 Asian Handicap (11/10 BetVictor)
Southend United v Newport County – Both Teams To Score ‘No’ (3/4 Betway)
What do you make of Mark’s three Football League bets from Tuesday’s coupon? Do you disagree with his selections?
We’d love to hear your views so let us know in the comments box below.