FOOTBALL LEAGUE expert George Elek (@GeorgeElek) runs the rule over the League One play-off final from Wembley between Bradford and Millwall.
Bradford v Millwall | Saturday 15:00 | Sky Sports
This League One play-off final looks to set two in-form and evenly matched teams up against each other, and the market generally agrees in being unable to split the pair.
Both games in the regular season ended in 1-1 draws and it would come as something of a surprise if either team ran away with this one.
Millwall may have just sneaked into the play-Offs on the final day, but the manner of their victory over Scunthorpe in the semi-finals shows a side high on both belief and quality.
Bradford, on the other hand, have been immensely solid all season. They dominated the ties against Fleetwood and deservedly booked their spot in the Wembley showdown, with a 1-0 aggregate win over the Cod Army.
A nice side-plot to this fixture is that Bradford were knocked out of the Play-Off semi-finals by Millwall last season so, with many players in both squads remaining the same, the Bantams will be seeking revenge for last season’s heartbreak.
Maybe the more interesting angle, however, is that Millwall were defeated finalists last season and clubs with this profile generally perform well if in the same situation the season after.
A look down into non-league shows that the last two National League Play-Off victors, Forest Green and Grimsby, had both suffered under The Arch the previous year.
There is evidence of this in the EFL too; West Ham achieved this feat in the Championship in 2005, whilst both Huddersfield and Millwall themselves continued the trend in 2012 and 2009 respectively in League One.
In fact, since 2004, when there was the restructuring of the Football League, no team has returned to the final having been defeated, and then lost again.
The betting angle
In a match where both teams and managers are seemingly so well matched, and where mentality will play such a huge part in who progresses, nuggets of information like this are what can give us an edge.
The experience of going to Wembley and being beaten does, when fresh in the memory, seemingly give the team an advantage. It is therefore worth siding with Neil Harris’ team to get the job done, whilst being mindful of the likelihood for a close encounter.
Splitting stakes here means a Millwall win in 90 mins pays at a shade of odds-on, but you have the security of keeping half of the bet alive in the case of a draw, and getting half of your money back.