MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) delivers his verdict on the best bets from Tuesday’s Football League card.
Blackburn v Fulham | Tuesday 19.45
Fulham pocketed their first win under Slavisa Jokanovic on Saturday when slicing and dicing QPR in the early kick-off. The Cottagers produced a cohesive and clinical first-half display to all but end the contest at the interval.
It was Fulham’s first taste of Championship success since the end of October and lifted the Londoners six points above the relegation zone. The victory also pushed Jokanovic’s side above their Tuesday opponents Blackburn.
Rovers were turned over by Hull to leave Paul Lambert’s men nervously looking over their shoulders with a winless league streak that now stretches back to 11 December (W0-D4-L5). Blackburn have failed to even score in six of those fixtures and only once since December have they netted more than a solitary goal in a game.
Since Lambert arrived at Ewood Park, Rovers’ W3-D5-L5 return has included just one home triumph (W1-D3-L2) and even that came in fortunate circumstances against Rotherham two months ago.
Taking this calendar year in isolation, the hosts are averaging just three shots-on-target per-game in the Championship and although Blackburn aren’t being totally outplayed, their tally of 25 goals is a league worst.
In contrast, only Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley have scored more goals than Fulham’s average of 1.57 goals-per-game – and deadly duo Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele have struck 26 goals between them.
The Cottagers have notched at least twice in 13/30 outings (43%) and are also beginning to show signs of defensive organisation and efficiency under their Serbian head coach.
No clean sheet since mid-October is an obvious concern but only once since Boxing Day have the capital club now leaked more than a single goal in a game and they were seconds away from ending that barren run of shutouts on Saturday at Loftus Road.
What’s more, the visitors have an excellent 2.00 points-per-game average when taking on the bottom-half (W7-D7-L0) compared to a terrible 0.25 points-per-game return against the league’s top-12 (W0-D4-L12). So I like the idea of getting Fulham onside this midweek.
Bet365 are offering 39/40 on the Cottagers with a +0.25 Asian Handicap start and that seems more than fair. This selection essentially sees our stake split between Fulham in the Draw No Bet market and Fulham in the Double Chance market.
This means, should the match end all square we'll see half our stake returned with the second half deemed a winner. But if the visitors pocket maximum points, we'll receive a full winning pay-out.
Blackpool v Oldham | Tuesday 19.45
Shrewsbury raced into a three-goal lead at Blackpool on Saturday, eventually running out 3-2 winners, in a match that went totally against the trends.
Coming into the weekend, only promotion-chasing Wigan and Burton had kept more League One clean sheets than the Tangerines but Neil McDonald’s men were made to pay for a shambolic start that saw the Seasiders 2-0 down after just seven minutes.
Blackpool went into the game on a four-game unbeaten run, with many feeling they had turned the corner. And McDonald admitted post-match, the fixture will act as a reality check to his players as they bid to bite back on Tuesday for the visit of relegation-haunted Oldham.
During that mini-unbeaten streak, Pools held Walsall away (1-1) and Sheffield United (0-0) at Bloomfield Road whilst also beating high-flying Gillingham (1-0) at home last weekend. Avoiding defeat against three of the league’s leading lights deserves credit.
The hosts remain three points above the danger zone and will be desperate to avoid losing to their direct relegation rivals so I’d expect this contest to revert back towards the trends – low-scoring and probability a little ugly.
Blackpool have delivered winning Under 2.5 Goals bets in nine of their last 11 at Bloomfield Road as well as 12/16 since relegation. Throw in the Tangerines’ away results too and you’ve a rock solid 22/30 (73%) of matches featuring fewer than three goals.
Oldham are similarly tight in the goals markets. No League One side has landed fewer shots-on-target but the Latics have shown their up for the scrap with successive clean sheets, whilst 13 of their past 16 away games have produced two goals or fewer.
With John Sheridan now in charge at Boundary Park, the prospect of more low-scoring duels should only increase. During his tenure at Plymouth, Sheridan oversaw 59/92 (64%) of Under 2.5 Goals winners and although only 6/14 (43%) of his matches with Newport followed suit, his first four fixtures with Oldham since his reappointment have featured just three goals.
If we put the two teams’ respective home and away records together, Under 2.5 Goals has proven profitable in 23/30 (77%) of games already. If we turned that percentage figure into the implied odds, we’d be looking at odds around the 2/7 mark – SkyBet are offering 4/6. I’m on.
Accrington v Carlisle | Tuesday 19.45
Accrington and Carlisle lock horns for the second time in 10 days with Stanley bidding to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat at Brunton Park.
John Coleman’s charges kept their play-off and promotion hopes alive with a 4-1 win over Crawley on Saturday in a match marred by three red cards. The Reds were the better side in the opening stages but fell behind before levelling proceedings through Billy Kee just after half-time.
Then came the brawl that overshadowed the game. Shay McCartan’s late challenge on Jon Ashton resulted in a melee between both sets of players, with McCartan, Crawley’s Simon Walton and Accy’s substitute goalkeeper Jason Mooney all dismissed for their involvement.
Stanley then notched three goals in the final 20 minutes to pick up a dominant 4-1 victory at the Wham Stadium, cementing their position in the top-seven. And I fancy Accrington’s chances of bagging a fourth consecutive home victory here.
The hosts hold an excellent W6-D2-L5 return when taking on top-half rivals, only Portsmouth and Carlisle have scored more home goals despite the Reds playing fewer fixtures in front of their own supporters and their 2.00 points-per-game average (W7-D3-L2) at the Wham Stadium is only bettered by Northampton.
Further indication of Accy’s outstanding campaign is seen in the performance data – only Pompey (65.93%) and Oxford (65.68%) are enjoying a larger share of the total shots-on-target in League Two than Stanley’s 63.35% with no side averaging more efforts on-target as hosts’ 6.83 per-game.
Carlisle slipped to an ugly 1-0 loss at Newport on Saturday and Keith Curle’s men have managed just W2-D6-L4 when taking on top-half teams. The Cumbrians have kept just one clean sheet across those 12 games and may be suffering from a bit of fatigue with this their ninth game of 2016 already.
However, rather than play the straight home win, I’m going to back Accrington to triumph with Both Teams To Score added in for an 11/4 shot with Bet365. The BTTS bet has banked in 10/12 (83%) of Accrington’s home games this season as well as in 9/13 (69%) of Carlisle’s road trips in 2015/16.
Blackburn v Fulham – Fulham +0.25 Asian Handicap (39/40 Bet365)
Blackpool v Oldham – Under 2.5 Goals (4/6 Skybet)
Accrington v Carlisle – Accrington to win and Both Teams To Score (11/4 Bet365)
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