MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) highlights the best betting opportunities from Tuesday night’s Football League action.
Brentford v Nottingham Forest | Tuesday 19.45
Both Brentford and Nottingham Forest have picked up three points from their opening pair of fixtures ahead of Tuesday’s tussle and a victory for either side would represent a pleasing start to the new season.
The Bees began with a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield as manager Dean Smith bemoaned his side’s lack of pace and creativity in a lacklustre performance. And the capital club started slowly on Saturday when eventually turning Ipswich over at Griffin Park.
Still, a dominant second-half display saw defender John Egan score twice to pinch the points as Brentford persist without injured playmaker Alan Judge and Alan McCormack. Neither are available here whilst Lasse Vibe won’t feature despite Denmark’s exit from the Olympic football competition.
Forest were a touch fortunate to see off Burton in their curtain-raiser 4-3. Visiting boss Nigel Clough said the Brewers had enough opportunities to win two games against a very young Tricky Trees outfit.
Philippe Montanier fielded five players below the age of 23 against Burton and a similarly youthful side lined up on Friday night for their 3-0 reverse at Brighton. However, Britt Assombalonga, Thomas Lam, Danny Fox and Matt Mills were absent at the AMEX and should return here.
Forest could and should have gone ahead in the first-half of that Brighton loss with young wideman Oliver Burke going close but post-match Montanier admitted his troops must improve in all areas of the pitch if they are to take victory at Griffin Park.
Since arriving in the Championship, Brentford have pocketed maximum points in 23/47 (49%) league outings and I fancy the Bees chances of enhancing that record this midweek. However, I’m heading elsewhere for my chosen punt.
Marathon have chalked up Both Teams To Score and Over 2.5 Goals at a healthy 27/20 and it’s the angle I’m keen to explore. The past five meetings between these two teams have produced 20 goals whilst the Bees’ 2015/16 fixtures featured an average of 3.02 goals-per-game.
A huge 31/47 (66%) of Griffin Park games have overcome the Over 2.5 Goals barrier with 29/47 (62%) also seeing both sides score.
Despite being a dour goals outfit under Dougie Freedman, Forest’s away goals trends are reasonably strong across the same sample with 24/47 (51%) Over 2.5 Goals winners and 25/47 (53%) proving profitable for Both Teams To Score backers on the road.
Montanier’s preference for a more attack-minded approach has led to Forest’s first two fixtures featuring over 30 shots each with 10 goals in total.
And although Brentford’s pair have produced just half that total, the Bees’ games are averaging 27 shots this term, slightly more than last season’s 26.17 average.
Peterborough v Millwall | Tuesday 19.45
Millwall manager Neil Harris was understandably frustrated to see his side fail to pick up three points at MK Dons on Saturday. The Lions scored twice in quick succession at stadium:MK to take a two-goal advantage inside the first half hour.
But the Dons pegged Millwall back within 60 seconds and levelled the scores just six minutes later with the two teams having to settle for a point apiece despite the Londoners enjoying the better of the second-half opportunities.
Harris has worked overtime since taking charge to restore Millwall’s identity and reconnect the club with disillusioned supporters. The Lions now boast a young and hungry squad with a tremendous work ethic and an aggressive, high-tempo approach. Their rigid 4-4-2 allows every player to know his duties inside out.
The Millwall boss boasted that his charges would be in better shape this season to go for an automatic promotion place and I for one, agree with the club’s all-time top goalscorer. Having gathered 47 points from their final 22 games in 2015/16, the Lions should be ready for another rumble.
David Worrall and Gregg Wylde were canny summer arrivals to bolster the flanks and in attack, Lee Gregory and Steve Morison’s partnership is arguably the most potentially prolific in League One.
But Millwall did lose influential defensive lynchpin Mark Beevers to Bolton in the summer with Tony Craig slotting in alongside Byron Webster at centre-back thus far. And that’s the area I’m just not totally sold on – are the Lions strong enough in defence to go the distance?
That area of Harris’ team is sure to be tested on Tuesday night as the capital club head to London Road for a date with Peterborough.
Posh opened with a ding-dong 3-2 triumph at Rochdale but were blunted against Bradford on Saturday, going down 1-0 to the Bantams as hosts.
Peterborough created little of note in Grant McCann’s first defeat as club boss but last season the Posh were the division’s entertainers – their 82 goals were only bettered by eventual champions Wigan – and there’s plenty of offensive talent fit and available to contribute to a positive performance.
Since the start of 2015/16, Posh have been involved in 16/24 (67%) of Over 2.5 Goals winners and 10/24 (42%) Over 3.5 Goals success stories at London Road. Across the same time period,
Millwall have proven profitable in the Over 2.5 Goals market in 17 (71%) road trips with 7/24 (29%) of those encounters featuring four goals or more.
I’ll back a repeat here at 11/13 (Marathon).
Barnet v Blackpool | Tuesday 20.00
Barnet ended 2015/16 with the fourth best home record in League Two. It was a remarkable achievement from Martin Allen’s men on their first season back in the Football League.
The Bees finished 15th – an excellent return considering they’d lost five of their first seven fixtures – a huge 28 points clear of the relegation zone and only 13 points adrift of seventh-placed AFC Wimbledon.
Losing club captain Andy Yiadom to Barnsley this summer was a blow but Allen’s a shrewd manager a this level and any suggestion that the Hertfordshire outfit would struggle this term does little justice the madcap boss.
Now in his fourth spell with the Bees, Allen knows how to make Barnet tick. The Bees beat Accrington 2-0 on Saturday, following up their well-deserved 1-1 draw against Cambridge on the opening weekend.
So I’m quite surprised to see the bookmakers offering generous odds on the hosts this midweek for the welcome of recently relegated Blackpool.
Why are Barnet consistently underrated? Well… despite bagging W6-D2-L4 at home to the top-half last term, the Bees were consistently poor performers the shot data metrics. For example, Barnet ranked 24th in the home shot ratio rankings and only 20th in the home shots-on-target ratio rankings. Ouch.
However, with the likes of John Akinde, Michael Gash and Alex Nicholls to call upon, the Bees have more than enough quality to trouble teams at this level. With 14 victories at The Hive last season, sometimes you just have to overlook trends and put your faith in teams to perform. So I am here…
Barnet can be backed at 13/15 in the Draw No Bet market with Marathon – we’ll get our cash back if the game ends all square. The hosts have lost only seven (29%) of their 24 Hive matches since promotion and that’s a record that commands respect.
Just six years ago Blackpool were a Premier League club and the Tangerines are onto their eighth boss since 2012 in Gary Bowyer. The former Blackburn manager began with a 2-0 triumph over Exeter but lost their crucial derby date with Morecambe on Saturday.
The Seasiders fired in 22 efforts against Morecambe but only landed four on-target. Bowyer’s boys did enjoy supremacy for the the majority of the match but profligate finishing was to blame whilst their Exeter success wasn’t quite as clear-cut as the result suggested.
The Grecians twice hit the woodwork and found Blackpool keeper Sam Slocomb in outstanding form to avert a potential own goal. And in attack, the Tangerines benefitted from a deflected own goal as they landed just a solitary effort on-target.
Blackpool’s squad is certainly strong enough to enjoy a play-off push but mutiny is still very much in the air at Bloomfield Road and I’m not convinced the club is ready to stabilise just yet. I’ll happily oppose them at the prices here.