MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) delivers his verdict on the best Football League bets from Tuesday night’s card.
Ipswich v Reading | Tuesday 19.45
Mick McCarthy will have enjoyed having the weekend off to rest his tired and weary Ipswich squad. The Tractor Boys, whose game is based on physicality and work-rate, have looked leggy following a hectic schedule of eight games in under a month.
The 3-0 reverse suffered at Birmingham last time out was a disappointment but the match hinged on the controversial dismissal of Jonathan Douglas seconds before the interval. And the spirited 10-man visitors were only killed off by two thunderbolt volleys.
Ipswich tend to be a tough nut to crack but Reading have had the measure of the Blues in recent skirmishes. The Royals have W8-D0-L1 in the last nine head-to-head and boast a decent W4-D2-L3 record when visiting the Suffolk side.
However, the Berkshire boys have suffered the away days blues since September, picking up a paltry two points from a possible 27 on their travels. (W0-D2-L7). It’s certainly cause for Brian McDermott’s concern but I do believe Reading can grab a goal this midweek.
The Royals have fired in a league-high 5.14 shots-on-target in away fixtures this term and although they’ve fired blanks in four of their last seven away days, have the quality to hurt an Ipswich defence that’s not as secure as McCarthy would like.
Only seven Championship sides are facing more on-target efforts as hosts and with Douglas banned, Town are without their midfield marauder. It’s just two shutouts in 10 fixtures for McCarthy’s men with the last seven visitors to Portman Road all managing to get on the scoresheet.
I won't dilly dally any longer – the selection I’m taking is Both Teams To Score at 21/20 with 888 Sport as it should be odds-on.
Since the start of last season the BTTS bet has landed in 20/37 (54%) of Ipswich’s home matches and 23/37 (62%) of Reading’s road trips. This term it’s proven profitable in 8/14 (57%) Portman Road dates and 9/14 (64%) of the visitors games as guests.
With around a 60% success rate across both samples, odds in the region of 4/6 would represent closer to the ‘right’ price.
Port Vale v Swindon | Tuesday 19.45
Port Vale and Swindon hope it’s third time lucky when they meet on Tuesday night with the previous two contests called off due to the rotten weather. Unluckily for me, I’ve previewed both fixtures in-depth only to see the selection(s) go to waste.
In both previous pieces I’ve been very pro-Vale and despite a 3-0 trouncing at Wigan on the weekend, I’m still keen to grab a piece of the pie.
The Burslem boys were out-classed at the DW on Saturday but didn’t help themselves with an early own-goal, a penalty and Ryan McGivern’s sending off. McGivern, Vale’s best defender in recent weeks, is now banned but Ryan Inniss should slot straight into centre-half, not unsettling the backline too severely.
And back at Vale Park, Rob Page’s men tend to be fairly formidable. Since Page arrived, the Valiants have returned W15-D8-L8 figures on home soil – that’s a 1.71 points-per-game average.
Millwall are the only side to leave Staffordshire with maximum points this season (W7-D5-L1) with the hosts conceding just four goals before the interval. In contrast, visiting Swindon have struck just four goals before the half-time oranges in their 13 away days.
Luke Williams’ guests have W4-D3-L6 on the road and only four clubs have had a lower proportion of the total shots-on-target in away games than Swindon’s 39%. The Robins have fired in fewer shots-on-target away than six clubs and so against a Vale side that relishes keeping things tight, it could be a fruitless trip for the Wiltshire raiders.
Swindon’s boss admitted the return to 3-5-2 didn’t work at the weekend and is hoping to coax out a return to their attacking ways but I’ll need convincing that a more offensive set-up is the best way to approach this encounter.
So I’m going to take a punt on Port Vale to be leading after 60 minutes at 29/20 with William Hill. They’ve leaked just 15 goals in 29 matches before the hour mark and hold a 14-6 aggregate advantage when looking at goals scored and conceded at Vale Park in this market.
Half of the goals Vale have leaked have come in the final half hour and it’s telling too that Swindon have plundered 10 of their 16 strikes after the 60-mintue mark, conceding 11 beforehand.
Luton v Yeovil | Saturday 15.00
Finally, I’m finding a bit of love for Yeovil and backing the Glovers at 8/9 (BetVictor) with a +0.50 Asian Handicap start.
The Somerset side upset the odds at Wimbledon on Saturday and actually landed more efforts on-target at Kingsmeadow than their in-form hosts – Jack Compton’s hat-trick doing the business with a slice of fortune also on Darren Way’s side.
Way’s made a solid impact since taking over from Paul Sturrock – W4-D5-L3 across all competitions – and Yeovil have now found the back of the net in 10 of those 12 outings. Grabbing a goal and avoiding defeat at Kenilworth Road is well within reach on Tuesday night.
Luton have W2-D2-L7 in their previous 11 and fired blanks in eight of their last 12 fixtures. As hosts, the Hatters have secured victory just once since September (W1-D3-L5) with only Crawley, Dagenham and Wycombe landing fewer efforts-on-target.
Nathan Jones was relatively pleased with Luton’s performance on Saturday but a 2-0 defeat to Notts County left the club 10 points adrift of the top-seven, leaving one of the League Two ante-post promotion favourites to start rebuilding for 2016/17.
Despite only winning three of their 14 home league matches this term, some firms have chalked up the hosts at odds-on quotes. That’s nonsense so I’ll gladly oppose them against improving Yeovil.
Ipswich v Reading – Both Teams To Score (21/20 888 Sport)
Port Vale v Swindon – Port Vale to be leading after 60 minutes (29/20 William Hill)
Luton v Yeovil – Yeovil +0.50 Asian Handicap (8/9 BetVictor)
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