MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) runs the rule over Good Friday’s Football League card.
Blackpool v Bury | Good Friday 15.00
Blackpool boss Neil McDonald has described the Seasiders’ Easter weekend double-header as “massive” as their League One relegation scrap reaches a crucial stage.
The Tangerines face Bury at Bloomfield Road on Good Friday, when victory would lift them above 19th-placed neighbours Fleetwood, then on Monday McDonald’s men head to Doncaster, who presently sit just a point below them.
Last weekend’s first win in nine games at Crewe saw Pool leap out of the bottom four and the former West Ham coach believes that 2-1 victory at Gresty Road has changed the atmosphere around the club.
He said: “It has given everyone a real lift. I think the supporters really enjoyed it too. It was great to pick up a big win away from home and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Pool have eight games remaining to avoid the drop, with McDonald suggesting they will need to win half of them to guarantee their status. And I reckon they look a good thing to record back-to-back victories for only the third time this term
Sure, the Seasiders rode their luck against The Alex – a late winner, a stoppage-time penalty miss, a red card and three disallowed goals all featured in a ding-dong battle – but their campaign has been built upon streaks and patches of fluctuating form.
So the end an eight-game winless run (W0-D2-L6) should galvanise the group. It’s not like they’ve been too far off the ball, either. Five of those six defeats above were by one-goal margins and it’s worth mentioning that since September, Blackpool have picked up W7-D4-L5 when hosting League One football.
Indeed, high-flying Gillingham were beaten at Bloomfield Road, top-six sides Millwall and Barnsley have only been able to take a point here and when welcoming bottom-half clubs, McDonald’s men have W6-D1-L2. The hosts have also recorded nine clean sheets in front of their home supporters.
This weekend Jack Redshaw is banned but new loan signing from Leicester Jacob Blyth should start alongside Mark Cullen in attack and there’s offensive flair from the likes of Danny Philliskirk, David Norris and Brad Potts in midfield are all capable of causing opposition defences problems.
Being Blackpool, I’m just not brave enough to take the 17/10 on offer. But the bulbous odds do at least give us a chance to support the Seasiders off a scratch 0 start on the Asian Handicap line at an enticing 9/10 (Marathon) – this selection works in exactly the same way as a bet on the Draw No Bet market.
Visitors Bury have stopped the initial rot with W3-D3-L2 in their past eight league outings and David Flitcroft’s charges produced a sterling display in the second-half at home to Shrewsbury last weekend to pick up a 2-2 draw.
However, it’s the Shakers’ abysmal road record that stands out on Friday. The guests have W1-D0-L11 of their previous 12, leaking the opening goal in 10 of those encounters and managing only four themselves. Horrific.
The heavy spenders were riding high in the play-off places going into November but slid away meekly since. Consolidation was always the expectation this term but many supporters have grown frustrated with the lack of consistency shown from Flitcroft’s troops.
Neither going up or down, there’s no pressure on Bury here and that could aid their cause and with three new names on the team sheet – Southend defender Cian Bolger and Port Vale goalkeeper Chris Neal as well as Blackburn striker Nathan Delfouneso – there’s hope the away run could be arrested.
But for me, the names not involved here will hamper their prospects. Centre-half and skipper Nathan Cameron is out for the season, strikers Leon Clarke and Tom Pope are sidelined for the next few weeks on-loan keeper Ian Lawlor is on international duty meaning Neal will be their seventh shot-stopper to make a league appearance this season.
If Blackpool can deal with the threat from Bury’s left-hand side in Chris Hussey and Danny Mayor, they should be more than good enough to pick up a precious point and hopefully three to help us land a nice Asian Handicap winner.
Accrington Stanley v Leyton Orient | Good Friday 15.00
I’m probably a glutton for punishment but I’m going back in to back Both Teams To Score in a Leyton Orient despite last weekend’s disappointment.
The O’s required a late goal to see off Morecambe (1-0) and although the Shrimps barely laid a glove on Kevin Nolan’s team, an early red card for the visitors goalkeeper Barry Roche all but ended the contest inside 20 minutes.
Orient had plenty of chances to score last Saturday, including Jay Simpson’s penalty miss, but they struggle to turn their possession into clear-cut opportunities for the first hour against a Morecambe side that refused to be drawn out of their shape.
A repeat scenario is unlikely to occur at Accrington on Good Friday with the swashbuckling home side led by John Coleman second only to Oxford in the shots-on-target standings for League Two.
No side averages more on-target efforts than Stanley as hosts (6.39 per-game) and having scored in all of their previous 18 Crown Ground outings this term, I’m happy to invest in a repeat here.
The Reds have kept their sheets clean just twice in those 18, meaning the BTTS bet has proven a successful formula in 16/18 (89%) of Accrington’s home league fixtures. Strong stats, eh?
Nolan’s guided Orient to 22 points (W7-D1-L3) from his first 11 matches in management to put the O’s back into the top-seven and although the Londoners have shutout seven opponents during that spell, I’m happy to override that trend due to Accy’s superb home record.
Between them, Accrington and Orient have played 74 league fixtures this term and accumulatively they’ve notched in 56/74 (76%) of those matches. The duo have recorded just 19/74 (26%) clean sheets and that’s led to 46/72 (62%) winning Both Teams To Score selections.
If we drill down to respective home and away records, Stanley and the O’s have scored in 35/36 (97%) outings, shutting out their opposition in only 7/36 (19%) – 28/36 (78%) of those matches featured successful BTTS bets.
If we took that 78% success rate, the implied odds of a repeat would be lower than 3/10. So the 5/6 from BetVictor offers real value.
York v Crawley | Good Friday 15.00
It’s last chance saloon for York and their survival prospects this weekend.
The Minstermen have taken just a point from a possible 21 to slide nine points away from safety. Jackie McNamara knows, three points here is pivotal to any lingering hopes of survival.
But York are unlikely to bridge the gap whilst shipping goals left, right and centre. The hosts have recorded just four shutouts in 37 in 2015/16 and three of those arrived in their first six fixtures.
Crawley have steadied the ship of late (W2-D2-L0) to consolidate their position in the lower reaches of League Two. And although Mark Yates’ men have delivered three clean sheets in those four fixtures, I’m still keen to venture into the goals markets.
Why? Well, the offer of taking Over 2.5 Goals here at 23/20 (BetVictor) is just too good to turndown. If we took the two teams’ home/away records together, the same bet would be looking at something closer to 1/3 again, making the current price huge value.
Between them, York and Crawley have played 74 league fixtures this term and accumulatively they’ve notched in 53/74 (72%) of those matches. The duo have recorded just 14/74 (19%) clean sheets and that’s led to 45/72 (61%) winning Over 2.5 Goals selections.
If we drill down to respective home and away records, York and Crawley have scored in 31/36 (86%) outings, shutting out their opposition in only 6/36 (17%) – 27/36 (75%) of those matches featured successful Over 2.5 Goals bets.
At 23/20, BetVictor believe this selection has just a 46% chance of landing. But as we can see above, the stats this suggest York v Crawley has upwards of a 60% chance of seeing three or more goals.
More ambitious punters may wish to take up the 7/5 offer from William Hill on Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score.
Blackpool v Bury – Blackpool 0 Asian Handicap (9/10 Marathon)
Accrington Stanley v Leyton Orient – Both Teams To Score (5/6 BetVictor)
York v Crawley – Over 2.5 Goals (23/20 BetVictor)
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