ANOTHER strong 2/3 haul from Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) with last week’s Football League selections. Can he continue his fine form this weekend?
Sheffield Wednesday v Fulham | Saturday 15.00
It doesn’t take long for football fans to form opinions nowadays. The sport is all about the short-term and new Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal is already finding that out the hard way. A section of Owls fans are already questioning the appointing of the Portuguese boss a full seven games into his tenure in English football.
For me, it’s a touch harsh. Wednesday have spent £9m this summer, making it the most expensive off-season in 16 years at Hillsborough and new billionaire owner Dejphon Chansiri has pledged Premier League football by 2017. The W1-D3-L3 return may not be convincing but the Owls have had to face three of the top five teams already.
Title aspirations looked a little generous pre-season with Carvalhal having to deal with a complete squad overhaul and whilst the first-half showing at home to Middlesbrough was woeful before the international break, there have been signs of life. They were competitive in defeat at Burnley last weekend and had they showed more composure in the final third, they would have been out of sight inside the opening 20 minutes of a 0-0 draw at Bolton on Tuesday night.
That was the Owls’ first clean sheet since their sole Championship success on the opening day. It was also the first fixture of the new campaign that the blue side of Sheffield had failed to net. Five of those seven outings have resulted in winning Both Teams To Score bets and a repeat has been chalked up at 1.79 (Favourit) for this weekend’s duel with Fulham.
It’s a Fulham side that I just can’t trust or be confident about under Kit Symons’ care. The Cottagers were rampant in the opening exchanges of their televised clash with Blackburn on Sunday and led 2-0. But the Londoners inexcusably stopped playing and were very fortunate to escape with three points. It was a second successive victory and lifted them to 13th, in my opinion a false position.
One thing that Fulham can count on is a mightily consistent BTTS record. All six of their league matches this term have featured goals for both competing sides whilst 13/22 (67%) away encounters under Symons’ watch have also delivered for Both Teams To Score punters. The visitors have managed a paltry four clean sheets in that run and a repeat on Saturday looks more likely than the 1.79 on offer.
Colchester v Gillingham | Saturday 15.00
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Marvin Sordell’s signing could be a total game-changer for Colchester. Having cost Bolton £3m just 18 months ago, the former England U21 was snapped up by the U’s on a free transfer and already helped his new club take four points from a possible six.
In midweek, Sordell bagged a dramatic late winner in their unlikely 3-2 win at Sheffield United, Colchester’s first league win of the season (W1-D4-L2). Understandably, boss Tony Humes was over the moon on Tuesday night with goalkeeper Jamie Jones also making a dramatic penalty save to deny Billy Sharp from the spot in the final minutes.
“On the balance, we were absolutely superb in the first half, scoring two great goals and we had a few other chances. The pace, power and quality of our game was very, very good and in the second half, we showed the other side of it”, said Humes, who’s side has now scored at least twice in four of their seven League One matches.
However, the flip side is the Essex club’s defence. Colchester have conceded two goals or more in six of their seven games and I can’t see those trends ending before the weekend is out with table topping Gillingham making the reasonably short journey up from deepest Kent.
Both clubs are sitting pretty at the top of the shots attempted table (Colchester 99, Gillingham 98) and whilst I’m a huge Justin Edinburgh fan and delighted with the visitors’ W5-D2-L0 start to 2015/16, their record on the road is slowing their progress (W1-D2-L0). Since the ex-Newport manager arrived, the Gills have actually W4-D6-L2 so I’m not prepared to invest my faith in the travellers at a rejuvenated Colchester Community Stadium.
Interestingly though, all three Gillingham away days this season have featured ticks in the Both Teams To Score column and a huge 9/12 (75%) of League One matches on the road under Edinburgh’s tutelage have also proven profitable for BTTS backers. A repeat is on offer at 1.73 (Favourit) and I think there’s a smidgen of value there.
Morecambe v Northampton | Saturday 15.00
Now here’s a bet I really like. Morecambe are available to punt at 1.97 with Favourit in the Draw No Bet market and that’s just too big. It’s almost disrespectful and it’s just too good to ignore. The Shrimps have won three on the spin and managed a strong W4-D1-L2 from their opening seven – the two defeats came in their first three when Jim Bentley’s men were suffering a few key injuries.
In three of their last four Morecambe have scored at least three goals and I’m delighted with the start they’ve made having optimistically put them up for promotion at a hefty price. They finished 2014/15 in a league-high under Bentley and took an incredibly 59% of their overall points tally off clubs finishing in the top-nine (W11-D3-L4).
Last term only five clubs had more efforts on target (three of which were promoted) and the consistency and stability surrounding the club ensured that a run at the upper echelons of League Two again was well within reach.
They were indebted to goalkeeper Barry Roche for a Man of the Match display at Newport last time out and were fortunate to take maximum points thanks to a stoppage-time wining penalty. But they should hold no fear of pocketing another three points when Northampton head to the Globe Arena.
The Cobblers had taken just a solitary point from meetings with Dagenham, Accrington, Plymouth and Barnet before holding out for a 1-0 win over Oxford last weekend but Danny Hylton saw a penalty saved by Northampton stopper Adam Smith in a largely drab contest.
The visitors have tended to run aground when on the road in recent years and even the appointment of marmite manager Chris Wilder has failed to stem the tide of disappointing away results. The Cobblers have lost 15/35 (43%) on their travels since the former Oxford boss took charge, keeping just seven clean sheets. Morecambe look well overpriced to continue in their rich vein of form.
Sheffield Wednesday v Fulham – Both Teams To Score (1.79 Favourit)
Colchester v Gillingham – Both Teams To Score (1.73 Favourit)
Morecambe v Northampton – Morecambe draw no bet (1.97 Favourit)
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