FOOTBALL LEAGUE expert Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) shares his thoughts on Saturday's televised encounter.
Barnet v Coventry | Saturday 7th October 2017, 12:15 | Sky Sports
Promotion contenders Coventry are odds-against across the board to win at Barnet, who have lost four of their last five league encounters.
The name of the game here then must be to find a way of getting the Sky Blues onside. Marathon’s 37/25 on the visitors winning is not too shabby, but I reckon there is room to go even further.
Their victories, barring a 2-1 win at Swindon, tend to follow the same pattern: they keep things tight from the outset, grab the first goal and manage the game well thereon.
The power, grit and leadership of midfielders Liam Kelly and Michael Doyle is key to these solid displays. The duo have started every game, providing excellent protection for impressive centre-backs Jordan Willis and Rod McDonald, while full-backs Jack Grimmer and Chris Stokes always put a shift in.
Barnet’s soft underbelly
That sturdy sextet could come to the fore against a Barnet side that at times show a soft underbelly, as we saw in their previous defeats at physical sides Lincoln and Wycombe.
While the Bees have had positive spells in those games, they are lacking confidence in the final third. That issue will not be helped by the minor injury that top scorer Shaquile Coulthirst picked up last week and the continued absence of long-serving hitman John Akinde.
Since the opening day 2-2 draw at now-bottom Forest Green, the Bees haven’t picked up a single point in games that have seen them concede the first goal.
The betting angle
If heads drop again, this could be another controlled performance from Coventry. Six of their seven victories this season have been ‘to nil’ – that outcome has happened in 55% of their matches.
Granted, five of those wins have come at home, but any team that has only conceded six goals in 11 is certainly capable of a clean sheet against out-of-form opposition.
Stan James’ 14/5 on Coventry to win ‘to nil’ implies a probability of 24%, when that eventuality (or Barnet losing without scoring) has occurred in 33% of games involving either side.
Those who want to back a narrow win for the visitors might consider BetVictor’s 15/2 on a 1-0 triumph, but there is an option for punters who fancy a romp.
Coventry could be due one, having had more shots than their opponents and more of them on-target in every game. In last week’s win over Crewe, the opposing goalkeeper was man-of-the-match.
With Barnet yet to keep a clean sheet, Coral’s 40/1 on a winning margin of over three goals for the Midlanders could be worth exploring for those in daring mood.
Barnet v Coventry – Coventry to win ‘to nil’ (14/5 Stan James)