FOOTBALL LEAGUE expert Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) delivered winners in all four of his suggested best bets last weekend. Can he repeat the feat on Boxing Day?
Peterborough v Chesterfield | Boxing Day 15.00
Excuse the cut and paste job but if you’ve seen my Half-Term Report on League One then you’ll have know how keen I am on Peterborough. The next few paragraphs can be skipped through as I’m only unearthing the same or similar content I’ve already trotted out on the site. Apologies.
It’s all about the impact of a certain Graham Westley. His appointment was a little left-field. Normally accustomed to direct, physical, long-ball tactics, many Posh fans were against the ex-Stevenage boss with his traditional approach the polar opposite to ‘the Posh way’ of free-flowing, attacking football.
But, I for one, am a fan of Westley and an open letter to Peterborough fans suggested he was keen to acclimatise and meet those requirements. He curiously set a target of ‘beyond 600 passes-per-game, leading to 25+ attempts at goal’ in each match and indicators have shown he’s bang on.
Since arriving at London Road, Posh have returned W10-D2-L4, scoring 40 goals and conceding 21 – an average of 2.00 points-per-game. They’ve kept just five clean sheets but in all bar three of those 16 matches they’ve scored at least twice and seven of those fixtures have been won at least two clear goals.
Posh are averaging 2.50 goals-per-game, are firing in an average of 19.31 shots-per-game with 7.62 efforts on-target per-game – they’ve been dismantling and destroying opposition clubs; even in their one-point haul from games against Blackpool and Shrewsbury recently, they’ve been top dogs.
Westley’s a fascinating character who clearly values statistics. Only this week he said, “There is a chart available to League One clubs which details who is best at converting scoring chances. Bury are top of that chart with a goal from every seven chances created. We are second with one in every eight chances leading to a goal.
“I also have figures that show me how much each player is contributing to the team and that could be a factor in the way I select the team. I have data that tells me how much running players have done in matches and in training.”
The way in which Peterborough have been transformed into such an enterprising, exciting team under Westley and Grant McCann is truly remarkable with the gifted Marcus Maddison even unable to get a start. Erhun Oztumer – labelled the Turkish Messi – has excelled with his spectacular vision and string-pulling from midfield.
So no surprise to hear I’m gobbling up William Hill’s delightfully kind 4/5 quotes on a Peterborough win this weekend. It’s their first Boxing Day game at London Road since 2008 and they should be well capable of blitzing a Chesterfield side on a six match-losing streak.
The Spireites have failed to score in four and caretaker coach Mark Smith is struggling to pick up the pieces left by Dean Saunders. Sure, they’ve improved defensively but at the expense of creativity and although Posh’s on-loan left-back Callum Elder is out injured, I can’t see the Derbyshire club doing enough to stop the rampant hosts in their track.
Swindon v Gillingham | Boxing Day 15.00
Both Swindon and Gillingham received a shedload of love in my Half-Term Report and I’ll be intrigued to see how the two clubs get on when meeting. There’s a bit of a weird rivalry between the two clubs but there also tends to be a few goals when they lock horns.
It’s goals I’m after here with Bet365’s 10/11 price on Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score holding the most value. But first a few words on Swindon and the impact that Martin Ling’s made since taking charge.
The Robins have rocketed up from the relegation zone to within two points of the top-half having won five of the first six League One contests under Ling’s watch – they’d managed just five in the 25 previous games to his arrival.
I’ve put the boot into the Wiltshire mob on more than one occasion but Ling’s tactical tweaks and personal touches have helped breed confidence, belief and a sea-change in attitude at the County Ground. The Robins now deploy a diamond midfield with a two-man attack and the switch has worked a treat thus far.
The hosts have won their last four on home soil, scoring at least twice in each and will be hell-bent on continuing their fine run of form as they prepare for their first Boxing Day bow at the County Ground since 2006.
Gillingham bounced back fantastically from their 3-0 loss to Burton to defeat Millwall 3-0 and an broken toe for Cody McDonald shouldn’t hamper their prospects too much. Last season’s top marksman has struggled to make a major impact this term through a series of niggling injuries.
Fellow striker Luke Norris, back from his own injury, took part in a reserve game on Wednesday, playing 70 minutes to boost his own match fitness and could be included as Justin Edinburgh’s team bid to improve upon a fairly meek road record (W4-D3-L4).
But goals are what we’re after and they tend to flow when these two teams are in action. Gillingham have notched at least twice in 22/39 (56%) of games under Edinburgh with 24/39 (62%) banking in the BTTS market and 25/39 (64%) rewarding Over 2.5 Goals punters.
On their travels, the Kent club have seen 15/20 (75%) of matches break the two-goal barrier with 14/25 (70%) seeing both sides score. They’ve scored two goals or more in each of their last five against Swindon (W3-D2-L0) and look capable of causing the Robins problems again.
Swindon have been just as exciting on the goals front. Since the start of last season, 20/34 (59%) of County Ground contests have featured Both Teams To Score winners with 22/34 (65%) following suit in the Over 2.5 Goals market, including 11 of the most recent 13.
If we were to take the two teams’ respective home and away records for successful Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score selections this season – 82% for Swindon and 60% for Gillingham – and find the average, we’d be looking at around a 71% chance of a repeat on Boxing Day.
Turn that percentage chance into the equivalent betting odds and we’d be looking at odds closer to 2/5 than the offered 10/11 on Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score. It’s a big value Boxing Day goals bet!
York v Northampton | Boxing Day 15.00
Talking of goals, League Two’s fixture between 22nd-placed York and 2nd-best Northampton also looks ripe for plucking with the same market standing out once more.
There was huge relief for York City as they ended their club record-breaking run of nine straight defeats by beating Morecambe 2-1 last weekend. Jackie McNamara’s men went 2-0 up but were forced to survive a few stoppage-time frights to secure the points, a result that lifted the Minstermen out of the bottom-two.
Post-match the former Dundee United chief suggested that he now believes there is a “real togetherness” at the club that had been missing during the first six weeks of his tenure. The Scot also gave praise to Dave Winfield and skipper Russell Penn following talismanic displays, whilst also commending on-loan 20-year-old William Boyle’ mature display in defence.
The result will have given York a huge boost and McNamara has given his players Christmas Day off, trusting them not to indulge over the festive period. Whether the squad abide by his warning or not, I’m convinced there’s still a sloppy side to the Minstermen and Northampton are capable of exposing it.
The Cobblers saw a one-goal lead slip against fellow promotion rivals Portsmouth last time out, losing with a goal five minutes from time. Town manager Chris Wilder described the late winner as an “absolute scandal” as his in-form group allowed Pompey to counter-attack from a Cobblers corner and pinch the points.
It was Northampton’s first league loss since 17 October (W7-D1-L1) and makes their results read W11-D3-L2 since early September – in 10 of those 16 matches they’ve struck at least twice and they’ll be confident of more having returned W7-D2-L2 figures against bottom-half clubs.
Those 11 fixtures against the league’s lesser lights have delivered a huge 38 goals with all bar three delivering Over 2.5 Goals. The visitors have also recorded winning Both Teams To Score bets in all bar three of their previous 19 road trips in league football. With no fresh injury concerns, a similar approach from the Cobblers can be expected.
For York’s part, they’ve picked up just three points from 11 games (W0-D3-L8) against the top-half with those 11 contests producing 40 goals – all bar one failed to break the two-goal barrier whilst 10 of their 11 League Two outings at Bootham Crescent have seen both teams score.
In fact, like previously, if we were to take the two teams’ respective home and away records for successful Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score selections this season – 90% for York and 64% for Northampton – and find the average, we’d be looking at around a 77% chance of a repeat on Boxing Day.
Turn that percentage chance into the equivalent betting odds and we’d be looking at odds closer to 3/10 than the offered even-money from Bet365 on Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score. It’s yet another huge value Boxing Day goals bet that I’ll be tucking into.
Peterborough v Chesterfield – Peterborough to win (4/5 William Hill)
Swindon v Gillingham – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (10/11 Bet365)
York v Northampton – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (1/1 Bet365)
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