MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) delivered us hunky profit on Saturday. Can he continue his hot streak with a few Football League winners on Tuesday?
Birmingham v Bolton | Tuesday 19.45
If you’d had £10 on Birmingham in every Championship match this season, you’d have made £98.70 and had you backed the Blues in all 63 second tier fixtures since Gary Rowett’s appointment in October 2014, you’d have collected over £160.
The second city club are regularly underrated by the layers due to their below-par performance data – Brum are averaging 1.59 points-per-game during Rowett’s tenure (W27-D19-L17) but they’re averaging a league-low 45% of possession and only eight clubs are firing in fewer shots-on-target this term than Birmingham’s average of 4.03.
Again, just eight sides have enjoyed a lesser share of the total shots-on-target in matches compared to Blues’ figure of 47.53% and you’d have to say, no manager across the country is squeezing more out of so little as Rowett at St Andrew’s.
As we approach the end of February, Birmingham are sitting eighth and just five points off the top-six, with a game in hand. It’s been a remarkable turnaround, all driven by the former Burton boss. Don’t forget, when Rowett took charge, Brum had just been annihilated 8-0 at home by Bournemouth and sat second from bottom.
His success is based around meticulous planning and preparation, figuring out the opposition weaknesses and then working hard on the training ground to convey and implement his ideas ahead of game day.
Rowett’s a staunch 4-2-3-1 advocate and will have relished nothing more than having 10 days off for his squad to rest, recuperate and take on board his philosophy for Tuesday night’s encounter with relegation-haunted Bolton.
Blues have suffered just one defeat in eight league outings (W4-D3-L1) and they’ve bagged victories in four of their last five as hosts, seeing off Brentford, Cardiff, Ipswich and MK Dons, so adding the Trotters to that list shouldn’t be beyond their capabilities.
There’s a school of thought that suggests Birmingham are a better side on the road than in front of their home supporters but Brum have W16-D7-L8 at St Andrew’s under Rowett – a 52% win ratio which would equate to odds of 20/21 without considering the opposition. Strong stuff.
Neil Lennon’s visitors have been beaten just once in five (W2-D2-L1) but games against MK Dons, Rotherham and QPR came at the Macron and holding out-of-form and injury-hit Wolves away despite being two goals down, shouldn’t be beyond them.
The Trotters are off the bottom of the Championship – largely down to Charlton’s ineptitude – and they remain terrible travellers. Wanderers are six points from safety, have lost seven of their last eight at top-half teams and been defeated in 22/34 (65%) of their away trips under Lennon, shipping at least twice in eight of their most recent nine on the road.
By my ratings and calculations, Birmingham deserve to be closer to 7/10, making the 19/20 from BetVictor an attractive value selection.
Peterborough v Oldham | Tuesday 19.45
Well it was fun while it lasted, eh? All good things have to come to an end at some point but Peterborough’s drop off in results has been a difficult pill to take.
Posh were blazing their way to promotion with W9-D3-L3 between mid-September and mid-December, as they peaked in fifth for Boxing Day. But Graham Westley’s charges have struggled to reach those heights since, slipping to 12th and eight points off the play-off places having W2-D1-L5 since Boxing Day.
Posh have been unfortunate not to pick up more points in a few of those recent eight outings but having been soundly beaten by Bradford (4-0) and Millwall (3-0) in their last two fixtures, alarm bells are ringing.
A gut-wrenching FA Cup exit to Premier League West Brom on penalties may have hurt morale but it’s their return of just two goals in five games since Conor Washington left for QPR that’s arguably caused most consternation. And now Westley must deal with a number of injury concerns this midweek.
Centre-back Michael Bostwick is suspended and he could be joined on the sidelines by striker Lee Angol, midfielder Chris Forrester, on-loan left-back Harry Toffolo and central defender Gaby Zakuani, all of whom are nursing knocks.
Posh may have won six of their last eight at London Road against bottom-six sides but a return of one victory in five as hosts in League One football is far from impressive and the home side have fired blanks in each of their last three in front of their home supporters.
So although visitors Oldham have managed just five victories in 30 this term, I’m really keen to get the Latics onside. BetVictor have given the away side odds of 15/16 with a +0.50 Asian Handicap start – the same as backing a Double Chance bet – and that holds plenty of appeal.
The relegation battlers brought John Sheridan back for a second spell in the manager’s hot-seat and the ex-Irish international has had a real galvanising effect at Boundary Park. Athletic have W2-D2-L0 across their past four matches, including a weekend win against high-flying Gillingham.
Oldham have suffered just two defeats on the road all season (W3-D10-L2) and since Sheridan arrived, they’ve ground all three consecutive clean sheets when playing away at promotion-chasing Wigan as well as at Shrewsbury and Blackpool.
I reckon the visitors are more than capable of upsetting the odds again on Tuesday night and are worth supporting to avoid defeat.
York v Northampton | Tuesday 19.45
Northampton made it a club record nine successive Football League wins when seeing off Wycombe 1-0 at the weekend. Chris Wilder’s men are 10 points clear of the pack and a staggering 18 points clear of fourth-placed Accrington.
Promotion back to League One is now inevitable for the Cobblers and despite Marc Richards’ injury, the club are keen to press home their advantage as they brought John Marquis in on loan to compliment their outstanding attacking options.
As mentioned numerous times, Northampton’s performance data just doesn’t stand up to runaway league leaders but their ridiculously clinical and A-Class attack has made Town more than a match for their divisional rivals. So I’m unwilling to leave them alone just yet.
Since 12th September, the Cobblers have returned W20-D3-L2. They’re incredible statistics that include W9-D2-L1 on their travels. When taking on the bottom-third, Northampton have W8-D1-L1 so we’re well within our rights to suspect another triumph as they visit relegation-haunted York.
The Minsterman finally seem to have turned the corner under Jackie McNamara, notching at least twice in each of their last three Bootham Crescent battles, all of which were won. Those victories have moved City to a point outside the bottom-two.
But York are the second-worst performing side when taking on the top-third of League Two, managing just two points from a possible 27 (W0-D2-L7), failing to record a shutout and conceding 25 goals in those nine games. However, the hosts have found the back of the net in seven of those matches and I’m counting on them repeating that feat on Tuesday night.
Of the aforementioned 10 Northampton fixtures against bottom-third clubs, the Both Teams To Score bet has proven profitable on eight occasions, as well as in 11/15 (73%) of the Cobblers’ away days this season, whilst nine of their last 10 road trips have also delivered Over 2.5 Goals winners.
Eleven of York’s last 13 league encounters as hosts have featured three or more goals with 12/15 (80%) breaking the Over 2.5 Goals barrier as they’ve failed to net just once on home soil all season.
If we were pricing Both Teams To Score up based purely on the two teams’ corresponding home/away trends, odds of 3/10 would appear more than fair. So the 17/20 offered by BetVictor looks just the ticket for Tuesday night.
However, it would be remiss of me not to put my faith in Northampton doing the business once more. I’ll back the away win with BTTS at 14/5 (BetVictor) – another value price.
Seven of the Cobblers’ 10 away triumphs have seen both sides score whilst six of York’s home defeats have also featured BTTS banking giving us a success rate of 43.5%. If we turn that percentage into equivalent betting odds, we’re looking at a 13/10 play. See? Value.
Birmingham v Bolton – Birmingham to win (19/20 William Hill)
Peterborough v Oldham – Oldham +0.50 Asian Handicap (15/16 BetVictor)
York v Northampton – Both Teams To Score (17/20 BetVictor)
York v Northampton – Northampton to win and Both Teams To Score (14/5 BetVictor)
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