MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) picks his favourite three bets from the weekend Football League coupon. And there's a chance to win another Free Bet from our sponsors 888 Sport and vital Cash Race points in our brand new competition!
Huddersfield Town v Rotherham United | Saturday 15.00
I made grand statements about both of these sides back in August. Huddersfield, I claimed, would be the Championship’s surprise package whilst Rotherham would not be relegated. I’m reasonably confident the latter part of those promises will be kept, should Steve Evans not pack his bags for Peterborough anytime soon (the fans don’t want him but the bookies suggest he’s in the running).
Huddersfield have been maddeningly inconsistent this term. Boss Chris Powell said-so himself after their 4-1 battering at Brentford on Tuesday night which came just days after their 3-0 thumping at Powell’s former club Charlton. The Terriers now hold the second worst defence in the division with 60 goals against already.
A number of unhappy Huddersfield fans have voiced their concern at Powell’s lack of tactical acumen and the man in charge has started to sound like a broken record when bemoaning the number of individual and team errors from his side’s defence in recent weeks. While Huddersfield are capable of creating goalscoring opportunities, they’re also highly liable to concede.
The home boss has promised supporters he’ll pick the team up for what should be a lively Yorkshire derby on Saturday and I’m expecting a game with goals for both sides. The Terriers have won once in six their W7-D5-L5 return at the John Smith’s Stadium is far from intimidating.
However, Huddersfield have seen Both Teams To Score bank in 10/17 (59%) of games in front of their home supporters, keeping only five clean sheets. Nakhi Wells may not be fit but James Vaughan is back on the scene while Harry Bunn and Ismael Miller have helped to bulk up the Terriers forward-line.
Rotherham arrive having lost four of their last six and without an away win since December. The Millers also appear to be struggling defensively and were downed by three first-half goals against Cardiff on Tuesday night. All three could have been stopped and it’s now just once clean sheet in 14 Championship outings.
Evans’ charges have managed to notch in all bar four of those 14 matches, mind. Only Brentford, Bournemouth, Watford and Wolves shut the Millers out and with Lee Frecklington back available and with Danny Ward making a decent start to his Rotherham career having moved from Huddersfield in January, the visitors will pose a threat.
With two porous backlines on show, I’m happy to take Both Teams To Score at 17/20 with 888Sport. The Boxing Day clash ended 2-2 and a similar scoreline on Saturday wouldn’t be a huge surprise.
Gillingham v Doncaster Rovers | Saturday 15.00
Gillingham are again on offer at a very generous price this weekend. You can pocket 2/1 quotes on the Gills doing the business at home to Doncaster but it’s worth pointing out, Rovers have actually taken one point less on the road than Gillingham have on home soil. It’s enough to put me off and look elsewhere…
One of those angles is the Over 2.5 Goals market where 888Sport have chalked up odds of 49/50 for the Priestfield Stadium showdown to feature three goals or more; that’s a very decent price in my eyes.
Justin Edinburgh’s team took maximum points away from Swindon in midweek, running out comfortable 3-0 winners. With Doncaster occupying the final play-off place, the Gills boss will know three points could claw the hosts to within two points of their opponents on Saturday.
And that victory at the County Ground was the 13th occasion in the their last 15 League One fixtures that a Gillingham game has broken the Over 2.5 Goal barrier. Cody McDonald and John Marquis have been in excellent goalscoring form and the Kent club have only failed to net once since November in league action and struck at least twice in seven of their last nine.
Doncaster have returned W4-D3-L3 in their previous 10 but have scored two or more goals in six of those outings and impressively in 8/17 (47%) away from the Keepmoat Stadium. Those 17 road matches have returned 12 Over 2.5 Goals winners and Paul Dickov’s in a privileged position to have a wealth of attacking options to choose from.
Fancy some maths? Put the two teams’ home/away Over 2.5 Goals figures together of 10/17 (Gillingham) and 12/17 (Doncaster), we can see 22/34 games have featured three goals or more – that’s a 64% strike-rate and the 49/50 price suggests this is a slightly better than 50% chance, meaning we have a good value bet on our hands.
Bury v Oxford United | Saturday 15.00
Northampton are making a late charge towards the top-seven in League Two but a place behind them in the form table are Bury. The Shakers started the season superbly securing six wins from their opening nine before losing their way (W3-D1-L7 from their next 11).
But David Flitcroft has put the Bury bus back on the road to promotion with a solid return of W8-D4-L2 since before Christmas. Four consecutive victories on the spin including back-to-back wins against Plymouth and Luton have lifted the Greater Manchester club back into contention for automatic promotion.
Clean sheets have been earned in four of their last five starts and Flitcroft was nominated for the Manager of the Month gong for February’s excellent performances. Bury dominated Luton on Tuesday in a rampant first-half and on-loan keeper Nick Pope held firm when the Hatters looked for a route back into the game during the second period.
Flitcroft admitted he was ‘buzzing’ with his team’s display, their 11th home success at Gigg Lane in 17 games this season. It’s that excellent home record that’s got me feeling broody. Under Flitcroft’s tutelage, the Shakers have W16-D11-L3. That’s a 53% win ratio and with a full strength squad to choose from, I’m happy to invest in the hosts at 9/10 with 888Sport.
Oxford arrive with just two wins in their last 11 and continue to look over their shoulder. Michael Appleton’s men have collected just three points fewer on their travels (W4-D6-L7) than at their Kassam Stadium base (W5-D6-L4) but looking closer, it’s fair to say the U’s have been a touch fortunate in their away results.
Last time out on the road goalkeeper Ryan Clarke produced a Man of the Match display at Portsmouth as Oxford claimed a 0-0 draw at Fratton Park while wins at York and Northampton arrived when the opposition were hopelessly out of form. Victory at Stevenage was secured when the hosts were in the midst of a horrendous injury crisis while their win at Plymouth saw the game swing in their favour once Argyle went down to 10 men.
I’m probably being a tad harsh on the U’s but the end game is, Bury look a cracking price to continue their excellent return to form with three more points.
Huddersfield Town v Rotherham United – Both Teams To Score (17/20 888 Sport)
Gillingham v Doncaster Rovers – Over 2.5 Goals (49/50 888 Sport)
Bury v Oxford United – Bury to win (9/10 888 Sport)
Win A £10 Free Bet + 10 Cash Race Points
Mark's shared his favourite Football League treble and now it's over to you guys. Pick a win-draw-win treble from the Football League this weekend and should it win, we'll give you 10 Cash Race points.
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