HOW will FA Cup semi-finalists Reading react when they return to Championship action on Wednesday night against Birmingham? Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) checks out the best bets.
Reading v Birmingham City | Wednesday 20.00
Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici suffered a Wembley nightmare as his battling Royals suffered extra-time heartbreak in their FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal on Saturday. The Championship outfit fought back from a goal down with Federici making a string of outstanding stops before the Aussie keeper’s error brought an end to the underdogs’ gallant resistance.
It was Reading’s first FA Cup semi-final for 88 years and Steve Clarke’s men acquitted themselves superbly despite turning up at the home of football with just one win in 10 league fixtures previously. Their record post-FA Cup football isn’t too encouraging either, mind (W1-D2-L2).
The Royals have had their eyes on that FA Cup prize for quite some time and so league results can be taken with a pinch of salt. However, failure to score in five of their last seven as hosts and just W3-D3-L5 from 11 games under Clarke’s watch at the Madjeski Stadium and it’s hard to invest your faith or cash on Wednesday night at 21/20 quotes.
Birmingham were edged out 1-0 by Watford on Saturday and a run of five defeats in six on the road certainly isn’t encouraging. But four of those fixtures came against top-six clubs and it’s worth noting the Blues have netted at least twice in four of those six matches. Decent, eh?
After his appointment, Gary Rowett guided the second city club to 10 points from 15 on their travels. But since their last away win in December, Birmingham have W0-D4-L5. It’s enough to put you off the visitors too, right? Yep.
So what’s the angle? I’m keen to explore the goals markets. Reading have kept just 3/11 home clean sheets under Clarke’s watch whilst Birmingham have recorded only 4/11 shutouts under Rowett’s tutelage (and none in their last eight). It’s a good start for a goals-based bet.
The Asian Goals line looks to hold the best value bet with BetVictor making Over 2.25 Goals a 4/5 shot. With this selection, our stake will be split across two bets – Over 2 Goals and Over 2.5 Goals.
What this means is, should the match feature exactly two goals, we’ll get half our stake returned with the second half deemed a loser. But if the game produces three goals or more, we’ll win both parts of our bet. The only way in which we’ll lose our full stake is if the encounter finishes with zero or one goal.
Reading’s Madjeski matches under Clarke have featured Over 1.5 Goals on 6/11 (55%) occasions and Over 2.5 Goals 3/11 (27%) times. But Birmingham’s are much more friendly with Over 1.5 Goals banking in 8/14 (57%) away league games and 5/14 (36%) proving profitable for Over 2.5 Goals punters.
Throw in the fact this could be a fine example of an end-of-season clash with little to play for and both sides could play their part in a decent encounter.
Reading v Birmingham City – Over 2.25 Goals (4/5 BetVictor)