MARK O’Haire’s (@MarkOHaire) trawled the Tuesday Football League card in search of winners. Can he deliver this midweek?
Blackburn Rovers v Millwall | Tuesday 19.45
Rudy Gestede netted a hat-trick with his head on Saturday but it wasn’t enough to give Blackburn three points at home to Nottingham Forest. Understandably boss Gary Bowyer was unhappy with his players efforts and hinted he’s looking to bring in a few experienced heads and leaders during the summer months to aid Rovers’ push for promotion next summer.
Sharing the points against Forest means Blackburn have now failed to win 12/21 (57%) of their Ewood Park matches this term and have W1-D2-L3 of their last six outings in front of their home fans. The FA Cup quarter-finalists have been plagued by injury problems but defensively they continue to let themselves down and having kept just five clean sheets on home soil, Bowyer’s right to be frustrated.
With little left to play for bar a top-10 finish, Blackburn could be the perfect opponents for Millwall as they look to continue the momentum of a survival challenge. Neil Harris has certainly sparked a level of confidence, character and attitude amongst the Lions squad with the Londoners now just four points from safety after a 0-0 draw at Cardiff on Saturday.
Millwall edged a dour encounter and once again had chances to take maximum points, only to fluff their lines in front of goal. It’s been a regular problem for the Lions but with a W2-D3-L1 record from their past six outings, the Londoners head to Lancashire expecting to pick up at least a point at Ewood Park.
Only table-topping Watford have left Harris’ visitors pointless in the aforementioned spell and the Lions have already proven stubborn opposition on the road. Although Millwall have only managed four away wins, defeats in 10/21 (48%) suggest they’re more than capable of grinding out a result.
The visitors were excellent when drawing 2-2 at Brentford a month ago – surrendering their two-goal lead with just five minutes left on the clock – and can again lay a solid claim for a share of the spoils on Tuesday night.
BetVictor have chalked up the Londoners +0.50 on the Asian Handicap line at 6/7 and it’s an appealing price; should Millwall avoid defeat, we’ll have ourselves a winner.
Scunthorpe United v Bradford City | Tuesday 19.45
Youngster Hakeeb Adelakun salvaged a late point for Scunthorpe at fellow strugglers Colchester on Saturday but the stoppage-time leveller failed to impress Iron boss Mark Robins. The Scunny supremo was furious with his team’s performance and pulled no punches in his post-match media commitments.
Robins claimed he was “frustrated and angry” with his side’s reaction to going a goal up before telling his squad they must start taking responsibility for conceding soft goals. It’s bound to have ruffled a few feathers at Glanford Park but I remain unconvinced Scunthorpe’s defensive woes can be solved in 72 hours.
The Iron are five points above the dreaded drop zone and should have League One status in the bag. But a terrible tally of just three clean sheets from 43 league games tells its own story. At the other end, the Claret and Blues have found the net consistently and so it’s no surprise to see Scunny head the Both Teams To Score table with 29/43 (67%) League One matches going that way.
I’m happy to follow those trends on Tuesday with BetVictor offering 5/6 on a BTTS repeat for the visit of Bradford. The Bantams were a shambles last midweek when losing 6-0 at home to Bristol City but clawed back plenty of creditability at the weekend after 1-1 draw at Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United.
Centre-half Rory McArdle saw red in that encounter and will be missing for the trip east, weakening the Bradford rear-guard but Phil Parkinson’s charges displayed plenty of attacking prowess at Bramall Lane on Saturday to suggest they’re good enough to take any chances Scunthorpe throw their way.
At Glanford Park the Both Teams To Score bet has proven successful in 13/21 (62%) of league fixtures whilst Bradford have played their part in BTTS winners in 11/21 (52%) of their road trips this term. With neither side looking capable of keeping the goals out, I’m happy to get on the 5/6.
Bury v Southend United | Tuesday 19.45
The biggest game from the Football League coupon takes place at Gigg Lane on Tuesday night. Both Bury and Southend arrive at this pivotal promotion battle bang in form and their eyes set firmly on a top-three finish. Wycombe’s wobble means a win for either side would see their current points advantage relinquished and so it’s all to play for between the Shakers and Shrimpers.
Since Valentine’s Day Bury have bagged 11 wins from 13 games, keeping nine clean sheets in the process, to storm into fourth. And it’s their record against their promotion rivals that’s really caught my attention. When hosting top-10 teams, David Flitcroft’s troops have W6-D1-L1 with the Newport defeat coming in the midst of their mid-season form loss.
Shrewsbury were the last visitors to Gigg Lane and Bury ran out 1-0 winners and repeated that scoreline on Saturday at Portsmouth to prolong their club record of seven straight away successes. And post-match, Flitcroft admitted he and his squad are excited by the prospect of taking on Southend in front of a packed home crowd.
It’s bullish talk from the home side who’ll come up against Phil Brown’s visitors on the back of their own impressive spell. The Shrimpers needed a stoppage-time winner from Michael Timlin at Exeter on Saturday to stay in the automatic promotion hunt but that goal extended their winning streak to five.
Like their hosts, Southend are on an outstanding run of clean sheets that stretches to six after that Exeter result but unlike Bury, the visitors’ record when travelling to League Two’s elite is far from impressive. The Shrimpers have W1-D2-L6 of their nine clashes at top-half teams; their weekend win at Exeter the only three-pointer earned.
It’s going to be tight; it’s a real six-pointer but I’m going to take my chance on Bury edging the game. Bet365 have priced up the home side at 11/8, which seems more than fair, especially when taking into account both sides’ record against fellow high-flyers. I’m on.
Blackburn Rovers v Millwall – Millwall +0.50 Asian Handicap (6/7 BetVictor)
Scunthorpe United v Bradford City – Both Teams To Score (5/6 BetVictor)
Bury v Southend United – Bury to win (11/8 Bet365)
What’s your best bet from the midweek Football League coupon? Disagree with Mark’s best bets?
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