MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) talks us through his favourite three selections from Saturday’s card with odds provided by our new Football League sponsors Favourit.
Ipswich v Sheffield Wednesday | Saturday 15.00
Both Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday have made solid starts to the new season and I’m hopeful their Saturday showdown will provide punters and neutrals with an enjoyable goal-heavy game.
Town began their campaign with a 2-2 draw at Brentford that must have felt more like a defeat for boss Mick McCarthy. The Tractor Boys led 2-0 going into stoppage time but two late goals levelled the scores. Mick was philosophical about the result and preferred to focus on the positives – a strong 90-minute showing at Griffin Park.
The Tractor Boys manager then rang the changes for their midweek Capital One Cup success at home to Stevenage. Ipswich fielded six full debutants amongst the 10 new faces from Saturday’s fixture and after a sloppy start, soon made their dominance pay with a 2-1 victory.
With both games finishing with Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score winners, I’m keen to follow on that theme this weekend. Town’s date with Brentford featured a divisional high 38 attempts on goal and in the two full seasons under Mick’s watch at Portman Road, Ipswich have seen the BTTS bet bank on 28/46 (61%) occasions.
Opponents Sheffield Wednesday have made the perfect start to life under Carlos Carvalhal with a 2-0 win over Bristol City on the opening weekend before a 4-1 success at Hillsborough against Mansfield in the cup. The new Portuguese coach made nine changes for the cup encounter and has confirmed he’ll be rotating further during a hectic opening few weeks.
The Owls are a different animal this term. Stuart Gray made the side solid but far from spectacular and goals were often hard to come by. Carvalhal has been told he must release the shackles and play more attractive football under the new ownership of wealthy Dejphon Chansiri and a Sporting Director Committee.
So far so good for Wednesday and they’ll fancy their chances of upsetting the odds on Saturday. But I’m more interested in the option of backing Both Teams To Score at 1.92 with Favourit. Despite the defence-first football we’ve seen from the Owls in recent times, they’ve actually scored in all bar 13/46 (28%) road fixtures since the start of 2013/14 with 25 (54%) resulting in winning BTTS bets.
Putting both teams’ relative home/away Both Teams To Score records together from 2013/14 and we should be looking at a 57.5% chance of a BTTS repeat at Portman Road, making the true price closer to 1.73 than the 1.92 on offer. Tie in the new-look philosophy, system and intentions at Wednesday and we should have the makings of a decent value Championship bet.
Blackpool v Rochdale | Saturday 15.00
Yeovil are living and breathing proof that back-to-back relegations from the Championship to League Two are no laughing matter and Blackpool must take note before their season spirals out of control. The Tangerines were fortunate to escape with a point in their opening day 2-2 draw at Colchester before a 3-0 hammering by Northampton on Tuesday.
Neil McDonald’s charges showed encouraging signs at ColU but a poor second-half almost cost the team who were out-shot 18-8 in Essex. And the Seasiders boss pulled no punches when describing their Capital One Cup defeat to the Cobblers as “absolutely rubbish” and claiming the group were ‘outplayed and outbattled’.
The highly-rated coach is finding out fast how tough a gig the hot-seat is at Blackpool and with a section of supporters keen to vent their frustrations at the ownership, the atmosphere for Saturday’s first home outing against Rochdale could be turn poisonous pretty quick.
In contrast, penniless Rochdale are looking to build on their highest ever Football League finish last season under the superb guidance of Keith Hill. The Dale boss has said he’s aiming to improve his squad on the training paddock rather than splashing what little cash he’s been given, an approach that’s already served the Spotland club well.
Hill’s troops defeated Peterborough 2-0 in their curtain-raiser before a beating Coventry on penalties in their League Cup clash on Tuesday night. Unlike their hosts, you can bet your bottom dollar that Rochdale will be impeccably drilled and prepared for their trip to the coast and if last season’s performances are anything to go, it’ll be an all-or-nothing approach.
Dale were held to just six draws across the entire league campaign but took a huge 70% of their points tally off clubs in 16th and below (W14-D2-L2). If, like me, you expect the Tangerines to finish in the bottom-eight, you’ll fancy the visitors chances and I’m happy to make Rochdale my best League One bet at 2.31 with Favourit.
Yeovil v Bristol Rovers | Saturday 15.00
Following consecutive relegations, life hasn’t gotten any easier for Yeovil. The Glovers suffered a 3-2 reverse at Exeter last weekend before barely laying a glove on ramshackle QPR during their 3-0 Capital One Cup exit on Tuesday. Taking purely league results alone, the West Country side have been beaten in 52 of their previous 93 outings.
It’s a shockingly poor record for Glovers fans to come to terms with and their task hasn’t been made any easier with a mounting injury crisis ahead of a visit from newly-promoted Bristol Rovers. Paul Sturrock confirmed there’s eight players on the list of absentees and the Scot suggested ‘five or six’ would be in his preferred XI.
Only boasting 15 fit and available players has posed plenty of problems for the Yeovil boss. Sturrock has already utilised four different formations across their first two fixtures and also alluded to the lack of experience in the squad. The Glovers manager is working overtime to bring in bodies to help plug the gaps, keen to rid the individual errors that have plagued Yeovil’s game in the opening 180 minutes of the new season.
It’s certainly room for encouragement for Bristol Rovers. The Pirates travel south to Huish Park looking for their first win since promotion from the National League and although they were rabbits in headlights against Northampton, manager Darrell Clarke was delighted with his team’s display against Birmingham in midweek.
The Gas went down fighting 2-1 but showed tremendous spirit and tenacity and were a threat on the counter-attack, elements that were ever so lacking against the Cobblers just three days earlier. Rovers have shown plenty of tactical flexibility too, switching from a flat back four to a 5-3-2 wing-back system between both games and with midfielders Chris Lines and Lee Mansell close to returning, there’s a bullish nature about the club and Clarke this week.
Rovers may not be given a better chance to record three points on the road this season and I’m confident they’re more than capable of taking maximum points. But I’ll take out a bit of insurance by backing the Pirates at 2.04 with Favourit in the Draw No Bet market – should the showdown end all square, I’ll get my cash back.
Ipswich v Sheffield Wednesday – Both Teams To Score (1.92 Favourit)
Blackpool v Rochdale – Rochdale to win (2.31 Favourit)
Yeovil v Bristol Rovers – Bristol Rovers draw no bet (2.04 Favourit)
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