MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) picks his favourite treble from the weekend Football League coupon. And there’s another chance to win more Free Bets with our Football League treble competition.
Bolton Wanderers v Blackpool | Easter Saturday 15.00
The international break has given Bolton the chance to try and get their injury-hit squad back to fitness for the final furlong of the Championship season. The Trotters are 10 points above the dreaded drop zone with seven games to play and boss Neil Lennon is well aware Wanderers’ survival status is yet to be secured.
The former Celtic manager moved to bring in Liverpool youngster Jordan Lussey on loan until the end of the season and the 20-year-old midfielder is the eighth player to head to the Macron on loan terms. It really illustrates just how bad that injury crisis has been at Bolton and also the plight of the financial situation at the club.
Still, the Trotters have a fantastic chance to enhance add another three points to their tally and improve on an already impressive home record when beleaguered Blackpool make the short journey south. Bolton are ninth in the home table having W9-D6-L4 at the Macron this season. Take out results against the top-five teams in the league and that record reads W9-D6-L0!
Wanderers can be backed at 8/13 on Saturday, which shouldn’t be sniffed at but Bet365 are offering 4/5 on Bolton to score Over 1.5 Goals. Lennon’s men have scored at least twice in 10/19 (53%) home league fixtures this season, only failing to find the back of the net on three occasions.
We’ve mentioned Blackpool many times on this Football League column in recent weeks and it’s only fair we credit Lee Clark’s side for the point they picked up at home to Leeds in their last outing. The Tangerines deserved the 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Road but relegation will be confirmed this Easter weekend and away form leaves a lot to be desired.
The Seasiders have W0-D6-L13 of their 19 road trips, failing to score in 10. In 12/19 (63%) of those away days have Blackpool conceded two goals or more and the travel blues is nothing new for Tangerines fans. Since the start of last season, Blackpool have W4-D13-L25, keeping only five clean sheets, leaking at least twice in 22/42 (52%).
It’s quite dull, it’s quite unimaginative but at odds of 4/5, Bet365 have given the likelihood on Over 1.5 Bolton Goals banking at around 55% and I think that’s slightly generous. So I’ll back the Trotters to push Blackpool a step closer to League One football.
Barnsley v Sheffield United | Easter Saturday 12.15
Nobody likes an aftertimer but I can’t tell you how close I was to finding a bet to have Crewe onside when they went to Sheffield United last weekend. The Alex were 19/2 outsiders but pulled off a comfortable 2-1 success at Bramall Lane and of course, I wasn’t involved.
However, it was just another example of what the Football League is capable of throwing up. This weekend the Blades make the short trip to Barnsley for a massive match in the League One play-off race. Visiting boss Nigel Clough is beginning to hear dissenting voices from the United crowd as the clear 11/2 League One pre-season favourites continue to stutter their way through their third tier season.
The Blades hold a five-point cushion from seventh-place but should Barnsley bag maximum points at Oakwell, that gap could be reduced to just two points with six games to play. And the thought of the Tykes taking all three points from Saturday’s encounter is a realistic prospect; since a 5-1 pummelling at Crawley on Valentine’s Day, Barnsley are unbeaten in nine.
Lee Johnson was handed the reigns at the end of February and he’s overseen W4-D3-L0 including four clean sheets. Barnsley’s last two results have seen the Tykes hold the top two teams to draws – Preston on home soil and Bristol City at Ashton Gate – so a visit from neighbours United shouldn’t phase the hosts.
I’m surprised to see Barnsley as big as 13/5 for this game. But I’m going to back them at 39/40 (BetVictor) with a +0.25 start on the Asian Handicap line.
Taking this selection means our stake is split equally across Barnsley 0 (effectively Draw No Bet) and Barnsley +0.50. So should Barnsley win, we’ll pocket a full pay-out. If the game ends all square, half of the stake is returned with the other half deemed a winner. The only way we won’t make money is if Sheffield United come out on top.
Since Clough took charge at Bramall Lane, the Blades have W14-D10-L11 on the road in league fixtures with the majority of victories coming against bottom-half clubs. Barnsley boast a W10-D3-L6 record at Oakwell and have more than enough quality and know-how within the ranks to pinch at least a point.
Cambridge United v Bury | Good Friday 15.00
There’s an unwritten Football League rule that states, ‘promoted Conference clubs won’t be relegated in their first season back in the Football League’. The gap between the cream of the non-league crop and the fourth tier is tightening and at least in the past 20 odd years, no side has dropped out of the Football League in the first season after achieving the status.
However, Cambridge are hovering dangerously above the League Two drop zone following a collapse in league form that’s seen the U’s claim just one win in 14. Seven defeats during that spell has seen Richard Money’s men plummet down the table and with all five sides below them starting to collect points and form, Cambridge are just six points above 23rd place and only seven points off the bottom going into the final seven games.
Money kept his players locked in the dressing room for 50 minutes after last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Hartlepool and admitted his team deserved to lose against a more-committed opponent. It’s always alarming to hear those sorts of reasons used against a team fighting for survival and the U’s manager pulled no punches when claiming his team was shot of confidence.
Home results have been disappointing for the hosts all season. Just one home league win has been secured since November and with the hosts holding a near 50% loss rate at the Abbey, it’s hard to find too many positives in keeping Cambridge onside against an in-form and rested Bury team.
The Shakers saw their clash with Southend abandoned after six minutes last weekend but head south on the back of seven wins in their previous eight. David Flitcroft’s team have kept five clean sheets during those fixtures and have won all six trips to teams in 17th and below. In fact, Bury have returned W12-D1-L1 figures when taking on sides in 17th and below altogether.
With four consecutive away victories, the 11/8 from Coral holds appeal on the Shakers making it five on the spin. Cambridge have W3-D3-L4 when entertaining top-half sides and failed to even score in half of those 10 matches. I’ll take the away win.
Bolton Wanderers v Blackpool – Bolton Wanderers to score Over 1.5 Goals (4/5 Bet365)
Barnsley v Sheffield United – Barnsley +0.25 (39/40 BetVictor)
Cambridge United v Bury – Bury to win (11/8 Coral)
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