Championship Tips | 15th December 2015


THERE’S plenty of Championship action to get stuck into on Tuesday night. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) points us in the right direction.

Fulham v Ipswich | Tuesday 19.45

Monday night’s goalless draw between Blackburn and Nottingham Forest was the 30th of the campaign – last season we saw just 46 0-0 draws in the second tier – but I’m hopeful Fulham and Ipswich will continue to buck the trend of low-scoring games in 2015/16.

The Cottagers have recently appointed Stuart Gray and are desperately hoping for a fresh start. Touted as possible promotion contenders in each of the previous two July’s, the West London outfit have flattered to deceive.

Following relegation, Fulham finished their Championship season 26 points off the top-six and after a run of W0-D3-L3, find themselves eight points adrift of their sixth-placed visitors on Tuesday night.

It’s not difficult to see where they’ve been going wrong. The Whites are the Championship’s top scorers with 33 goals yet only Rotherham (36) have conceded more often than the Cottagers (35) – that’s a rate of 1.75 goals leaked per-game. Not cool.

Gray guided Sheffield Wednesday to a very respectable mid-table position last term, built on a solid backline. The Owls kept a club record haul of 17 clean sheets but also failed to score in nine of their 23 Hillsborough outings – only five of which ended in victory.

I’m not totally convinced the new boss will have had time to organise and make a real impact on their shoddy defence in time for Tuesday so I’m happy to once more get involved in a pro-goals punt with Fulham, as I don’t know when we’ll get the chance to again.

Since the start of last season, Over 2.5 Goals has been a winner in 21/33 (64%) Craven Cottage matches with both teams scoring in 20/33 (61%). During that time, Fulham have kept just six clean sheets but scored in 26 encounters.

More recently, 12 of their past 16 in the capital have featured three or more goals with 11/22 also breaking the Over 3.5 Goals barrier. All bar two of their 2015/16 home matches seeing BTTS bank.

Travelling Ipswich have delivered Over 2.5 Goals winners in 19/33 (58%) on the road since 2014/15 with 21 also pocketing profit for those backing Both Teams To Score. The Tractor Boys have managed just seven clean sheets whilst scoring in 27 with seven of their most recent 11 producing at least three goals.

Town are finding some form and chasing a fourth consecutive away league win for the first time since April 2004. Ryan Fraser’s back in the squad and Daryl Murphy’s swung back into form in recent weeks. Ipswich are full of energy and always ready to roll their sleeves up under Mick McCarthy and I reckon they’re more than capable of playing their part in an enjoyable contest.

With Both Teams To Score offered a miniscule prices, take the 11/13 from 888 Sport on Over 2.5 Goals, it’s a value price.

Preston v Birmingham | Tuesday 19.45

It’s not quite Millwall – no one likes us, we don’t care – but poor Preston are beginning to get a bit of heat from Football League fans.

Simon Grayson’s troops are making progress up the Championship with a game-plan based around keeping things tight and not conceding goals. And boy, it’s working…

North End are now eight points clear of the drop zone thanks to back-to-back wins and just one loss in 10. After failing to score in his first 15 games, Joe Garner has scored three in his last four and the Lilywhites are aiming for three successive Championship victories for the first time since 2011.

Trusty goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s been marvellous as a last line of defence but Grayson’s supremely drilled backline deserves huge credit for their efforts too. Preston have kept clean sheets in eight of their last 10 and in 11 of their 20 fixtures since promotion – a league-high.

The hosts are also facing fewer shots-on-target on average than any other second tier side – 2.90 per-game – and they’ll be in confident mood ahead of a meeting with a Birmingham side that’s failed to net in six of their last eight.

Gary Rowett’s guests do hold the division’s best away record (W5-D3-L2) and performed well at promotion-chasing Middlesbrough on Saturday, grinding out a goalless draw. The impressive young boss was delighted with his team’s display, suggesting it was their best on the road this term.

The Blues restricted Boro to few clear-cut chances so it’d be smart not to write off their chances of upsetting the odds at Deepdale on Tuesday. Especially so when discovering Preston have managed just two wins in 10 in front of their home supporters.

So instead, I’m opposing goals here. Boylesports are offering ‘No’ in the Both Teams To Score market at 5/6 – it’s as skinny as 4/6 elsewhere – and that’s a price dripping in value and allure. Sure, the bet itself isn’t sexy but the odds definitely are.

For starters, seven of Preston’s 10 at Deepdale have delivered fewer than three goals as they’ve kept five shutouts and failed to notch themselves in three outings. Half of those matches did end with winning BTTS bets but three also finished goalless.

Birmingham have seen fewer than three goals in 12 of their last 15 and seven of their 10 on the road. The Blues have also been involved in low-scoring clashes in eight of their previous nine against promoted clubs. Six of their 10 away days this term have seen both teams fail to score including eight of their last nine anywhere.

It’s also worth noting, Clayton Donaldson will miss this trip for the visitors. He’s only been absent for six of their 66 games since the start of last season and Birmingham have picked up only two points in his absence, failing to notch in four of those matches.

Best Bets

Fulham v Ipswich – Over 2.5 Goals (11/13 888 Sport)

Preston v Birmingham – Both Teams To Score ‘No’ (5/6 Boylesports)

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About Author

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After starting his career in newspaper journalism, Mark soon found his way into the online betting world, forging a career in content, social media and marketing production. With a huge passion for stats, the Football League and European football, Mark’s other interests include playing rugby, following his beloved QPR and travel.

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