FOOTBALL LEAGUE expert Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) pinpoints the value ahead of Sunday’s televised encounter from League One at Stadium:MK.
MK Dons v Port Vale | Sunday 14.15 | Sky Sports 1
Rarely would we ever look at a side that’s failed to record three points in front of their own fans for seven months – an 11-match streak – and think odds-on quotes to end that streak appealed.
However, I’m willing to warrant such a view on MK Dons this Sunday as the Buckinghamshire boys are simply streets ahead of Port Vale, despite what the results and current league standings say.
Rotund jester Karl Robinson has seen his hosts return W0-D2-L3 at Stadium:MK since relegation, shipping the opening goal on four occasions. Curiously, the home side have W4-D1-L1 on their travels although last weekend’s 2-0 triumph at Oldham was far from pretty.
More of the same is required from MK, here. Robinson’s 4-3-3 tends to involve plenty of forward threats from midfield but too often the Dons are being hit by sucker-punches on the break or being outmuscled in the middle.
Robinson, always good for a soundbite, recently asked, “What have we done to deserve this? I think somebody’s smashed a few mirrors in the hotel and a few cats have been running the place” after his side were seen off 3-1 by third-placed Bury despite dominating the encounter at Stadium:MK.
But take a step back and we can see the franchise have been calling the shots in the majority of their matches this term, and more than enough to justify their 5/6 (William Hill) quotes here.
Indeed, MK have won the shot count in all five of their home fixtures and accumulated an impressive 79 efforts across those 450 minutes. And over the course of the campaign thus far, only once have Robbo’s men lose the shot count – a 3-2 defeat at Northampton back in early September.
The Dons’ 58.17% shot ratio figure – their share of the total shots in games – is only bettered by Bradford (59.34%) and with club-record signing Kieran Agard amongst the goals of late, I’m confident the hosts will have enough to see off a powder-puff Port Vale unit.
Credit to visiting boss Bruno Ribeiro. The Portuguese coach was a left-field appointment after Rob Page’s was more or less forced out of the club having seen his playing budget reduced by £800,000.
It’s Ribeiro’s eighth job in five years and a colourful squad overhaul saw the Valiants fill the staff with foreigners this summer. No wonder the Burslem boys were made pre-season favourites for relegation.
Nevertheless, Jose Mourinho’s mate has made a decent start to his career in Staffordshire with a W5-D0-L1 home return the foundation for Vale’s lofty sixth-placed position before the weekend. However, it’s not all sweetness and sunshine.
Last weekend’s 2-0 reverse when welcoming rock-bottom Coventry was arguably the Valiants’ worst performance of the season and their terrible away record (W0-D2-L3), coupled by their rotten performance data suggests their promising start will end swiftly sooner than later.
The visitors’ 41.04% shot ratio return across their opening 11 encounters is a league-low and whilst picking up points at Bradford and Peterborough represent solid results on the road, Ribeiro’s charges have faced 75 efforts in games as guests and managed just 42 of their own.
The boss previously said that one reason for Vale’s poor away form could be because the players haven’t stayed overnight before some games and newspaper claims report Ribeiro and his agent Cesar Boaventura coughed up £1,500 themselves for a hotel stay ahead of Sunday.
But I’m not convinced the adjustment will bear fruit this weekend even though midfield marauder Anthony Grant is back from suspension. Fellow midfielder Paulo Tavares is banned and Vale fans have been quick to point out the away side have won just one of their last 13 games in matches switched to a Sunday.
Since the start of last season, Port Vale have lost 16/28 (57%) of their road trips. The visitors have suffered six (21%) defeats by at least two goals and fired blanks in 12/28 (43%) tussles.
Interestingly, 19/28 (68%) of that sample saw Vale enter half-time level, including eight of their last 12. Pushing that stat further, we can see the Draw-Loss double result banked on 12 (43%) occasions – it makes the Draw-MK Dons double result at 4/1 (BetVictor) a decent interest bet.
Finally, considering 11 of the Valiants past 16 trips to top-half teams featured fewer than three goals, I’m also going to have a wee stab at MK Dons to win and Under 3.5 Goals at 17/10 (BetStars) – it’s a selection that sees us paid out with 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 and 2-1 home triumphs.
MK Dons v Port Vale – Draw/MK Dons (4/1 BetVictor)
MK Dons v Port Vale – MK Dons to win and Under 3.5 Goals (17/10 BetStars)