MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) runs the rule over Tuesday’s card from the Football League.
Brentford v Bolton | Tuesday 19.45
Brentford boss Dean Smith was adamant his side wouldn’t be resting on their laurels after a clinical 3-0 disposal of Nottingham Forest on Saturday brought the Bees back to winning ways and nine points above the Championship drop-zone.
Goals from Lasse Vibe, Nico Yennaris and Sergi Canos ended a run of four successive defeats, and just one win in nine, which had seen the Londoners hurtling towards the bottom-three.
Poor defending from the Tricky Trees contributed to a solid three points on the road and now Smith is keen to see his side record back-to-back victories with rock-bottom Bolton arriving at Griffin Park on Tuesday.
Brentford have had a handy knack of delivering knockout blows to the league’s lesser lights and since the start of 2014/15, the Bees have W12-D5-L3 when entertaining bottom-half teams.
Taking 2015/16 as a standalone, the capital club have picked up just two points from a possible 45 against clubs in the top-nine. When playing teams in 10th and below, Brentford have W13-D5-L5 – that’s a 1.91 points-per-game average as they’ve notched at least twice in 13/23 (57%) outings.
Seven of the most recent 10 clubs from the bottom-six have been dispatched at Griffin Park and the 17/20 (Bet365) on offer for another home success appears kind. However, I’m going to boost the odds to 11/10 (Paddy Power) by chucking Over 1.5 Goals into the mix.
Since the start of last season, 35/42 (83%) of the Bees’ home fixtures have featured at least two goals with 28/42 (67%) breaking the Over 2.5 Goals barrier. Eight of Brentford’s last nine matches have produced at least three goals and it’s been a similar tale for the Trotters in eight of their most recent nine away days, with the guests shipping two or more goals in 8/9 road trips.
Bolton are almost certainly down and out and appeared to throw in the towel following Neil Lennon’s sacking, with Wanderers hammered 6-0 at Bristol City in their last Championship away date.
The visitors have collected just four points from a possible 57 (W0-D4-L15) on the road this season, shipping two or more goals in 14 of those 19 fixtures. No second-tier side has faced more on-target attempts on their travels and only MK Dons have fired in fewer away from home.
So with Smith keeping Brentford focussed on clinching survival, I’ll happily tuck into the Bees this midweek at a more than fair price.
Sheffield Wednesday v Blackburn Rovers | Tuesday 19.45
A bumpy three-week spell that saw Sheffield Wednesday record only three points from five games (W0-D3-L2) threatened to derail the Owls’ promotion push but normal service has since resumed and Carlos Carvalhal’s troops now look set for a top-six finish.
The Portuguese head coach described their 1-0 Saturday success at Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield as ‘unbelievable’ as Fernando Forestieri’s 83rd-minute winner secured a third-successive Championship triumph. The match also meant Wednesday have now kept four clean sheets on the spin and five in their last six.
The Owls are bubbling up nicely and although the top-two look just too far out of the picture, Tuesday’s hosts are refusing to rule out an automatic promotion place. A 12th home triumph in 20 would give the blue side of Sheffield real belief and I reckon they look a decent bet at even-money (Coral) to take maximum points here.
Wednesday top the home scoring charts (36) this season as well as firing in the most on-target attempts as hosts in the Championship this term. Carvalhal’s men are also boasting a 63.35% shots-on-target ratio figure when welcoming league opposition – only Reading and Hull have posted stronger digits.
Like Brentford, the Owls have delivered their best work when taking on the lesser lights in 2015/16. Exclude the top-eight and the hosts have W17-D7-L4, including W11-D1-L2 at Hillsborough – they’ve scored at least three goals in eight of those 14 fixtures.
Blackburn were beaten 2-1 at home to local rivals Preston on Saturday, the third defeat in four for Paul Lambert’s visitors. Grant Hanley returns from suspension but Shane Duffy’s weekend red card ensures Rovers are once again without half of their solid centre-half pair.
Striker Tony Watt suffered a hamstring injury against North End and looks set to miss out, with Simeon Jackson likely to take his place alongside Danny Graham. Lee Williamson, Corry Evans and Danny Guthrie are all also sidelined for the guests.
Blackburn have netted just five goals in their previous 10 away trips and have W1-D4-L5 when journeying to top-half teams this term. Rovers have recorded just four clean sheets on their travels and fired blanks on nine occasions with only five divisional rivals returning a worse road record (W4-D6-L9).
Stevenage v Yeovil | Tuesday 19.45
Yeovil looked to be heading for a third successive relegation before the Glovers hierarchy decided to relieve Paul Sturrock of his duties and give club legend Darren Way the gig on a temporary basis back on the 1st December. The West Country side were bottom of the Football League.
But credit to the club; despite only taking a point from his first four fixtures in the Huish Park hot-seat, Yeovil have flourished under Way’s tutelage and continue to climb the League Two table.
From two points adrift off safety, the Greens have jumped to 19th and 13 points clear of the drop zone thanks to a superb run of results (W8-D7-L4). The Somerset side are picking up 1.63 points-per-game on average and only five League Two clubs have accrued more points than Yeovil’s 31 under Way.
In fact, only runaway league leaders Northampton (41), Accrington (35) and Bristol Rovers (31) have enjoyed a better 2015 than the Glovers (28) and all three promotion pushers have played more games than the Huish Park outfit.
It’s a fantastic tale, made all the more remarkable thanks to an online poll at the local Western Gazette rag that suggested only 3% voted for Way to be given the job full-time. The ex-midfielder has won over the supporters thanks to his meticulous preparation, professionalism and positivity.
So I’m delighted to see we can still back Yeovil at hunky prices, particularly the 10/11 (BetVictor) offered with a +0.25 Asian Handicap start for their midweek trip to Stevenage.
With this selection, we’ll make money if Yeovil avoid defeat – a reminder they’ve lost just four league games in 19 League Two outings under Way. We’ll pocket a half-stakes profit should the Greens’ game end all-square and a full-stakes pay-out if the Somerset side depart with all three points.
Yeovil have kept their sheets clean in seven of their last eight now, triumphed in five of their most recent seven, as well as taking maximum points from two of their past three road trips. And the visitors have posted a solid W6-D3-L4 record against fellow bottom-third rivals this term, including six shutouts.
Stevenage scooped a surprise 1-0 success at Luton on Saturday but Michael Tonge’s late penalty winner was only their second on-target attempt in that encounter and having moved nine points clear of the drop-zone, performance levels could dip with survival now all but ensured.
Even so, Boro have been beaten in each of their last three as hosts, have W1-D4-L5 against the bottom-third of League Two and only recorded W5-D5-L9 in their 19 Broadhall Way excursions. Again, we only need to avoid a Stevenage victory to make money from this selection.
The Hertfordshire outfit have W3-D3-L9 in 2016 – that’s 16 points fewer than their visitors – and their 44% shots-on-target ratio figure as hosts is only a smidgen better than Dagenham and Hartlepool at the bottom of that specific table. It’s a rather bleak outlook for Boro.
If punters are keen to go the whole hog and back the Glovers here, have a look at the 5/1 (Betway) that’s offered on an away win alongside Under 2.5 Goals. Unders has proven profitable in seven of Stevenage’s latest eight assignments, seven of their last 11 as hosts and eight of the Glovers’ past nine outings.
Brentford v Bolton – Brentford to win and Over 1.5 Goals (11/10 Paddy Power)
Sheffield Wednesday v Blackburn – Sheffield Wednesday to win (1/1 Coral)
Stevenage v Yeovil – Yeovil +0.25 Asian Handicap (10/11 BetVictor)
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