MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) delivered yet another profitable weekend punting the Football League. Here he shares his favourite fancies from Tuesday night’s card of action.
Preston v Nottingham Forest | Tuesday 19.45
I didn’t get time to pen a full preview for Saturday’s late televised kick-off between Preston and Bolton but I did tweet my best bets with plenty of statistical analysis to back-up the picks – back a half-time draw as well as 0-0 and 1-0 correct scores. The former two banked comfortably in a match shorn on quality and goalmouth action.
This midweek Nottingham Forest travel to Deepdale and the advice is to follow similar patterns with Under 1.5 Goals (21/10 Marathon), a 0-0 half-time draw (7/4 Bwin) and the 0-0 correct score (8/1 BetVictor) all standing out as decent value selections.
The hosts head into this contest on the back of consecutive clean sheets in Championship football and just one loss in seven. Simon Grayson’s side are steadily moving away from the relegation zone and building their campaign upon a solid spine from the back.
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s been marshalling his backline superbly with Bailey Wright, Greg Cunningham and Calum Woods forming a tight centre-back trio in Grayson’s preferred 3-5-2 formation. The Lilywhites have kept an equal-best seven clean sheets in their 14 league encounters and only once conceded more than one goal in a game, whilst only Reading have faced fewer than their average 2.86 shots-on-target per-game since promotion.
However, PNE have failed to fire in attack. Joe Garner’s attempted more shots than any other second tier player without finding the back of the net and Jermaine Beckford’s long-term injury has hit the hosts hard. Eoin Doyle’s yet to prove himself at this level and the same could definitely be said of Will Keane.
Paul Gallagher and Daniel Johnson continue to be Preston’s most threatening offensive players from set-piece situations or counter-attacking positions but only MK Dons have struck fewer on-target efforts than the Lilywhites’ average of 3.29 per-game. Indeed, Grayson’s troops have fired blanks in six games already and only once netted more than a solitary goal in a game.
Visitors Forest make the trip on the back of a seven-match winless streak (W0-D3-L4) with Dougie Freedman’s men failing to keep a clean sheet on each occasion. The Tricky Trees are just one place and one point ahead of their hosts and the guests have scored just twice in their past five outings.
Forest’s last six fixtures have featured fewer than three goals and no league match involving Freedman’s visitors has produced four or more goals this term. The travellers are still in the midst of a heavy injury crisis and were unfortunate not to leave Sheffield Wednesday with a point on Saturday having defended with skill and bravery. However, their lack of quality in forward areas was glaring.
So immediately, going low on goals stands out as a strong option to take. I’ll bypass the Under 2.5 Goals option and head straight to Under 1.5 Goals at 21/10 with Marathon as the price is simply too big. Turning the 21/10 odds into percentage expectancy, the bookies are forecasting a 32% chance of this bet landing.
But the Under 1.5 Goals selection has won in 6/14 (43%) of PNE’s matches and 5/14 (36%) of Forest’s fixtures, meaning it’s landed in 39% of the clubs accumulated clashes when averaged out. It’s an angle that’s also proven profitable in 3/7 (43%) of the Lilywhites’ Deepdale dates with Forest following suit on the road.
The 0-0 half-time draw also sticks out at 7/4 (Bwin). PNE have delivered W1-D5-L1 in the home half-time market with four of their five half-time stalemates on home soil failing to feature a goal. In all, six of Preston’s seven half-time draws have seen the 0-0 correct score bank – that’s 43%.
As for the Tricky Trees, they’ve been level at the interval in 9/14 Championship games this term, eight of which were goalless – that’s a strong 57%. Away from the City Ground, Freedman’s men have gone W1-D5-L1 in the half-time market with all five draws drawing blanks from both sides. Taking into account both sides’ trends, the goalless first-half should be an even-money shot.
Finally, having ventured into negative goal markets already, it’s only right to have a small play on the 0-0 correct score (8/1 BetVictor). It’s a scoreline that’s landed in three of PNE’s previous four as well as 5/14 (36%) this term including 3/7 (43%) in front of their home fans. Forest have followed just once this season but the 8/1 is another big value bet.
Leeds v Cardiff | Tuesday 19.45
Any reason why Leeds deserve to be favourites on Tuesday when Cardiff take a trip to Elland Road? I don’t think so.
For all my love and affection for Steve Evans, the Whites are in a rut and in need of saving. You have to go back to March for the last time Yorkshire’s finest won in front of their adoring home supporters, a 12-match streak without tasting success.
United have now suffered four losses on the spin at Elland Road (scoring once) and head into this encounter without a win in six (W0-D2-L4). No Championship side has kept fewer clean sheets than Leeds’ solitary shutout and the hosts have been beaten in seven of their last 10 when welcoming top-half teams.
In contrast, Cardiff are unbeaten in six (W2-D4-L0) and have kept four successive clean sheets, their best since September 2005. The Bluebirds may have only won once on their travels but their W1-D5-L1 return on the road shows what a tough team Russell Slade’s side are to beat and there’s value in siding with the visitors on the Asian Handicap line.
Since Slade arrived in south Wales, Cardiff have W7-D10-L7 in away league games. But take the last 16 of those fixtures and the Bluebirds’ record reads W6-D8-L2. Sure, the Welsh wonders have only scored 15 goals this season – the same number as bottom placed Rotherham – but only three clubs have leaked fewer and we can profit from them avoiding defeat.
Cardiff +0.25 can be backed at 5/6 with Matchbook and sees us win should the away side leave Leeds with maximum points. But should the match end all square, we’ll see half our stake returned and the second half deemed a winner at the 5/6 odds on offer. For more information on Asian Handicap betting, check out our guide here.
Leeds have W8-D9-L13 at home since the start of last season so, even when including their decent run of results at HQ before things went Pete Tong, the Whites boast just a 27% win ratio when welcoming league opposition. Cardiff have lost just 29% of matches on their travels under Slade meaning in theory, we’ve a 72% chance of making money.
PS. If you like your head-to-head trends, Cardiff have W11-D5-L0 in their last 16 league games against Leeds and W5-D3-L0 in their last eight away days at Elland Road.
Coventry v Barnsley | Tuesday 19.45
On Saturday I highlighted Barnsley’s rotten run of results and form whilst siding with Scunthorpe to do the business against the Tykes. Scunny duly ran out 2-0 winners in a match that saw Lee Johnson’s men miss a penalty to compound their misery.
The opening goal in that loss was a real defensive Halloween horror show and although Johnson spoke about his ambition to turn the ship around, ultimately the decision may be taken out of his hands as early as this midweek. Barnsley visit high-flying Coventry and it’s difficult to see the Yorkshire visitors avoiding a seventh successive loss.
The Tykes have failed to score in their past three matches and W3-D4-L7 on their travels since Johnson took charge. The away side have W1-D1-L5 on the road this term, conceding at least twice on six occasions and are already two points from safety. Not ideal when the campaign began with hopes of promotion.
Coventry have W3-D3-L0 coming into this contest and will be full of confidence having come from 2-0 behind at half-time to beat in-form Peterborough 3-2 late on at the Ricoh on Saturday. On-loan 18-year-old Adam Armstrong was again the hero with two goals to take his tally to 10 since joining from Newcastle.
Tony Mowbray was naturally delighted with his troops who head into Tuesday defending an unbeaten home record (W5-D2-L0). And with the Sky Blues’ fearsome W16-D7-L0 head-to-head return when welcoming Barnsley in league football dating back to 1923, history certainly isn’t on the side of the guests.
Stan James has chalked up the hosts as 9/10 shots and I’ll happily back Cov to deliver the three points required to take them to within a point of the League One peak.
Preston v Nottingham Forest – Under 1.5 Goals (21/10 Marathon)
Preston v Nottingham Forest – 0-0 half-time correct score (7/4 Bwin)
Preston v Nottingham Forest – 0-0 correct score (8/1 BetVictor)
Leeds v Cardiff – Cardiff +0.25 Asian Handicap (5/6 Matchbook)
Coventry v Barnsley – Coventry to win (9/10 Stan James)
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