FOOTBALL LEAGUE expert Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his selections from Tuesday night’s EFL card.
Fulham v Blackburn | Tuesday 19:45
Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic has told his players to forget their memorable victory at Newcastle on Saturday and shift their primary focus towards Blackburn on Tuesday night.
The Whites secured a fabulous victory in the north east with masterful quarterback Tom Cairney continuing his fine form and wonderkid Ryan Sessegnon adding a brace before Daryl Murphy’s late consolation.
Victory in midweek for Fulham would take them into the play-off places for the first time since the league was seven games in but Jokanovic believes the Championship starts right now with the capital club knocking on the top-six door.
The Serbian boss is expected to field an unchanged team and there’s little reason to ignore the Cottagers here with 4/5 (BetStars) quotes generous enough to snap up on the home side winning in a game involving Over 1.5 Goals.
The hosts have W7-D4-L1 at Craven Cottage since the October international break and Fulham have beaten seven of their past nine visitors from the bottom-six positions in the Championship.
The Whites have scored at least twice in six of their past seven outings (W5-D2-L0) with only two of their 16 league victories this campaign arriving by a solitary strike whilst their performance data has marked Jokanovic’s side out as major players in the promotion market.
Blackburn were frustrated that they couldn’t take all three points from Norwich at the weekend during an enthralling 2-2 draw and there’s no doubt the arrival of Tony Mowbray is a significant upgrade on Owen Coyle.
Mowbray’s overseen a five-match unbeaten streak (W2-D3-L0) and defensively Rovers have appeared more organised and prepared. But it’s also true the fixture list has been kind on the relegation-battlers with a degree of fortune thrown in.
Avoiding defeat in West London would see Blackburn move out of the bottom-three and although Craig Conway returns, the visitors still have doubts over Charlie Mulgrew and Sam Gallagher.
Without a win in eight games as guests (W0-D4-L4), a return of W4-D3-L11 against top-half teams and a 50% losing rate away at the top-12 over the past few seasons in the second-tier, I’m happy to oppose Rovers here.
Bury v Bristol Rovers | Tuesday 19:45
Bristol Rovers extended their unbeaten run to nine games (W3-D6-L0) by seeing off the challenge of Southend at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday and moved within four points of sixth-placed Millwall.
Gas boss Darrell Clarke believes Rovers will need to win six of their remaining nine games to have any chance of concluding the campaign in the play-off positions and insists his team are under no pressure to deliver such a feat.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sink our teeth into the 16/19 (888) quotes on the Pirates off a scratch 0 start on the Asian Handicap market in midweek. Working in exactly the same format as Draw No Bet, we’ll get our cash returned if the match at Bury ends all-square.
In-form midfielder Ollie Clarke serves the second of his two-match ban but rock-solid centre-half Ryan Sweeney has kept Rovers super-tight at the back with the visitors now shipping just four goals across their last 13-and-a-half hours of League One action.
The expected downturn in results following Matty Taylor’s departure has failed to materialise with Billy Bodin continuing to impress in the final third.
The Gas were excellent in back-to-back 2-0 triumphs against Oxford and Southend whilst picking up well-earned points against the likes of Sheffield United, Bolton, Bradford and Scunthorpe during their unbeaten run of results so they should be well capable of avoiding defeat here.
Bury were involved in an ugly goalless draw with near neighbours and fellow relegation scrappers Oldham at the weekend, a match that saw Jacob Mellis forced off and now rated a major doubt here.
Danny Mayor, Craig Jones, Nathan Cameron and Zeli Ismail are all still sidelined, a 2-1 triumph over beleaguered Coventry wasn’t at all convincing and a home reverse to Gillingham recently has to raise concerns about Lee Clark’s charges.
The Shakers have been beaten in six of their past nine when welcoming top-half teams to Gigg Lane and have W0-D4-L9 against top-10 sides this season, conceding at least twice in 10 of those 13 fixtures.
Colchester v Mansfield | Tuesday 19:45
League Two’s weekend coupon featured eight away wins and Mansfield look the best bet from Tuesday night’s card to pocket maximum points on their travels.
The Stags were beaten 2-0 by Plymouth on Saturday but boss Steve Evans felt their performance was his side’s best since he took charge in November. Town won the shot count 18-3 and the on-target tally 8-2 whilst also enjoying 57% possession at Field Mill.
Evans’ men were undone by two set-piece goals as they fell to just a second loss in 14 league fixtures. The Stags have gone back-to-basics in recent weeks following of seven goals in successive matches against Accrington and Grimsby during mid-February and two goalless draws followed.
But Evans continues to tweak the system and should Mansfield continue where they left off they’ll prove far too good for injury-stricken Colchester. So take the 3/4 on Town off a 0 start on the Asian Handicap market with BetVictor.
Colchester were humbled 4-0 on home turf by Portsmouth at the weekend and although the Essex outfit have only twice fallen to back-to-back league defeats, John McGreal’s men continue to be plagued by unavailability.
The U’s will check on the fitness of Richard Brindley and Sammie Szmodics should be OK to feature having made Saturday’s XI following his long lay-off but none of the club’s other injured players are expected to return.
Midfielder Doug Loft, defender Tom Eastman and club captain Luke Prosser all continue their rehabilitation, along with defenders Jermaine Grandison and Lloyd Doyley and midfielder Tommy O’Sullivan. Meanwhile, forward Denny Johnstone, leading scorer Kurtis Guthrie, defender Frankie Kent and midfielder Craig Slater are also out.
Colchester have W3-D3-L5 since early January and kept a solitary clean sheet in that spell.
Fulham v Blackburn – Fulham to win and Over 1.5 Goals (4/5)
Bury v Bristol Rovers – Bristol Rovers 0 Asian Handicap (16/19 888)
Colchester v Mansfield – Mansfield 0 Asian Handicap (3/4 BetVictor)
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