MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) delivers his three favourite Football League fancies from Saturday’s 3pm card.
Rotherham v Bristol City | Saturday 15.00
Neil Redfearn wasn’t even allowed to use Leeds’ car park on his return to Elland Road last week but Massimo Cellino’s snub failed to take the gloss of a thoroughly deserved three points for Rotherham.
The Millers showed all the heart and resilience which had been lacking in the first half of the 5-2 loss against Ipswich Town a fortnight earlier to come away with a 1-0 victory at their Yorkshire rivals home.
It was Redfearn’s first victory in seven attempts since taking over the manager’s hot seat at the New York Stadium in October but the new boss was quick to pour cold water over the victory, claiming ‘one swallow certainly doesn’t make a summer’.
Redfearn made nine changes to his side for the derby date, including partnering Stephen Kelly and Kirk Broadfoot at centre-half. The experienced pair produced a solid and committed performance to help guide the Millers to just their third clean sheet of the campaign.
This weekend Rotherham take on fellow strugglers Bristol City at the New York and Redfearn has set his sights on a first victory in front of the Millers supporters. But he’ll have to make-do Joe Mattock after the left-back picked up an injury in their Leeds win.
Leon Best will miss out through suspension meaning Matt Derbeyshire should move into attack whilst combative midfielder Luke Hyam has been tipped to make his debut after a loan move from Ipswich. The added steel will no doubt help the hosts but as the manager says, I’m not convinced their backline issues are solved just yet.
Bristol City sit just four points above Rotherham and arrive at the New York with just one defeat in five (W1-D3-L1) with Steve Cotterill snubbing the loan deadline in favour of supporting his squad. Ex-Millers forward Kieran Agard should relish his first return to his old stomping ground and Jonathan Kodija will be looking to continue his hot-streak in front of goal for the visitors who’ve managed just one road win since promotion (W1-D4-L3).
The Robins have tightened up in recent weeks – keeping four clean sheets in seven – but I’m still keen on exploring the goals markets here with Both Teams To Score chalked up at a handsome 5/6 with 10Bet. It’s a selection that’s proven profitable in 10/17 (59%) of City’s fixtures this season – 4/8 (50%) on their travels – but should have more than a 54% chance of winning, as the odds imply.
Rotherham have delivered BTTS winners in 12/17 (71%) of their Championship encounters including a huge 7/8 (87%) on home soil. Between the two clubs they’ve kept an accumulated 8/34 (25%) clean sheets and failed to net in 7/34 (21%) of games this term.
Taking the two teams’ previous BTTS records this season and finding the average, the probability of a repeat Both Teams To Score scenario on Saturday should be around 65% – in betting terms that’s an 8/15 shot so I’ll gladly take the 5/6 on offer.
Crewe v Oldham | Saturday 15.00
Crewe scored a stoppage-time winner to turn a 2-0 deficit at Colchester on its head and end a run of three-straight defeats. Ryan Lowe’s goal was celebrated wildly by Alex supporters who made the long journey to Essex and brought the Railwaymen back to within three points of survival.
Manager Steve Davis praised the guts and belief of his battling squad post-match. Crewe had been stuffed 5-1 by Peterborough just three days earlier but fought back valiantly to record just their fourth victory of 2015/16.
The Alex lost George Ray to a broken ankle in that Colchester clash and with club captain Harry Davis still on the sidelines, Davis was forced to bring in Cardiff defender Semi Ajayi to plug the defensive gaps ahead of Saturday’s showdown with fellow strugglers Oldham.
Keeping the goals out looks a tough task for Crewe, who’ve already leaked 33 goals at an average of 1.74 goals-per-game. However, at Gresty Road the hosts have been shutout twice themselves and are finding a route to goal. That’s led to 6/9 (67%) of Both Teams To Score winners and again the 5/6 quote from 888 looks like a value play.
Draw specialists Oldham (W3-D10-L6) are only three points above the Railwaymen after a 5-2 humbling at home to Southend on Tuesday night. Manager David Dunn was understandably furious after that encounter, venting his frustration about soft goals, desire and work ethic as well as the Latics’ lack of first-half application. The Manchester-based club were 2-0 down at half-time and never recovered after the interval.
Crewe should sense blood this weekend and go for the kill but their dodgy backline (the Alex have faced by far and away the most shots-on-target in the division) is too unreliable and Oldham should have enough opportunities to extend a remarkable run of Both Teams To Score winners.
A huge 15/19 (79%) of the Latics’ matches have featured goals at both ends, including 7/9 (78%) on their travels. The visitors have only failed to net in three League One game this term but can only boast three clean sheets, making this match the perfect recipe for another goal-laden game, at a solid price.
Carlisle v Crawley | Saturday 15.00
In the week Keith Curle extended his contract at Carlisle until 2018, it’s only right we revisit the Cumbrians and a favourite market of ours this weekend.
I’ve often been quick to hammer Curle but credit to the 51-year-old, he’s helped the Blues avoid relegation last term and has guided the club into the League Two play-off positions this week as Carlisle came from 3-1 down to defeat Luton 4-3 on the road.
With a 2-2 draw at home to Portsmouth just three days earlier, those 11 goals brought the Cumbrians to the top of a few goalscoring charts. Saturday’s hosts are now the league’s top scorers with 35 and their 19 games have now featured the most goals in the division (70) too – at an average of 3.68 goals-per-game.
Only Stevenage have faced more shots-on-target than Curle’s charges so it’s no surprise to see only relegation-zoned York have conceded more than the Blues’ 35-goal total. I’m sure you don’t need any more hints – we’re again looking towards the goals-based markets and in particular Both Teams To Score.
To be honest, I’m astounded to see BTTS priced-up at 4/5 (888) – it just has to be shorter! Carlisle’s last two at Brunton Park have featured nine goals and going back to the start of the season, 7/9 (78%) have bagged for BTTS backers. Overall, a ridiculous 15/19 (79%) league fixtures have produced the Both Teams To Score goods.
I highlighted Crawley’s upturn in fortunes ahead of Tuesday night’s loss with Northampton and the Red Devils obliged in our Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score angle and so I’m hopeful Mark Yates’ men can repeat the trick again on Saturday, despite the long journey north.
Town have notched in their last 10 consecutive matches with BTTS proving profitable in eight of those. On their travels, Crawley have scored in each of their last six with five on the spin featuring goals at both ends. Overall now, 11/19 (58%) have delivered in the BTTS column including 6/9 (67%) away.
Taking the two teams’ successful BTTS records together and finding the average, we’re right to expect a 68.5% chance of the bet banking once more. Translate that percentage chance to betting odds and we’re looking at a 4/9 chance – so of course, the 4/5 from 888 is huge value. Snap it up.
Rotherham v Bristol City – Both Teams To Score (5/6 10Bet)
Crewe v Oldham – Both Teams To Score (5/6 888)
Carlisle v Crawley – Both Teams To Score (4/5 888)
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