BRADFORD face Harrogate in Monday night's televised League Two tussle. Tom Love (@TomLove_18) shares his betting thoughts.
Bradford vs Harrogate | Monday 12th October 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Monday Night Football comes from Valley Parade as Bradford City host Yorkshire newboys Harrogate Town. I have personally been a Bradford City season ticket holder most my life and although I’ve seen the Bantams face off with their near neighbours a few times in pre-season, this is the first ever league meeting between the pair.
Harrogate Town have usually battled with Harrogate Railway in the lower reaches but the canny ownership of Irving Weaver has seen them sustainably rise up the non-league pyramid, a clear identity and player and management stability has been key to their progression.
Irving’s son, Simon, has been the manager of the Sulphurites for 11 years now, a frankly unheard-of time in football these days but it gives me confidence in them being comfortably clear of the drop this season.
Harrogate started their season with a comfortable 4-0 win away at Southend which may look impressive but the Shrimpers were way off it for the first few games of the season and had a dearth of players due to financial constraints. They followed that up with back-to-back draws against Walsall and Port Vale which they deserve credit for but a loss against an out of sorts Bolton side last week wasn’t the best.
Town now have to travel to BD8 to take on a City side that are unbeaten in 12 on home soil. Stuart McCall is in his third spell as manager at the club where he is idolised by the faithful and looks to be given a long run at things now and Bantams’ fans are delighted that he is in back in situ after a rotten few years since he last left.
Dour spells under Simon Grayson, David Hopkin and Gary Bowyer, synchronised with a haphazard and deluded co-owner micromanaging every aspect of the club it left a side who were one game away from the Championship in 2017 to be struggling back in the fourth tier. It’s a big rebuilding job for McCall but he’s had a summer to get his players in and on the whole it’s being a positive start to the season for the club.
A fair draw with Colchester on opening day was followed by a bizarre clash in Gloucestershire against Forest Green Rovers as the West Yorkshire side had two men sent off but conceded a 95th minute equaliser after a barrage of attacks by the hosts. They did get their first win a fortnight ago at home to Stevenage which was a deserved one.
The Bantams have had an extra rest due to their match against Grimsby being called off last week due to the Mariners having a positive COVID test, so they should be well rested. A shadow team performed well against a strong Wolves U23 side in the EFL trophy midweek but the likes of Callum Cooke, Elliot Watt, Connor Wood, Billy Clarke and Lee Novak should all come back in.
The betting angles
Being a City fan, I’m usually loathed to put us up to win games, however the quotes of 37/40 (Bet365) on the hosts with a +0 start on the Asian Handicap look generous. This works effectively the same as the Draw No Bet market, we have the insurance of getting our stake back if the game ends in a draw.
The home record is something to give a lot of credit to, they’re very hard to beat at Valley Parade and McCall also can call upon new loan signing Austin Samuels to add pace and a threat in behind, something sorely lacking this campaign.
Namesakes Anthony and Paudie O’Connor remain suspended from the Forest Green game which does leave the hosts light at centre-half and with defence not being this sides’ forte the 4/5 about Both Teams To Score does look an enticing play.
Harrogate have plenty of forward threats and have scored seven goals in their opening four games. Jack Muldoon should be back fit and he’s a real poacher in the box. Aaron Martin has been excellent whilst Jon Stead, who was an integral part of the 14/15 Bradford side that had a phenomenal FA cup run, is also an option along with Mark Beck.
One other bet that just looked a touch too big was the hosts’ best player, Connor Wood, to score anytime. Wood has been deployed in a more advanced role this season as a left-wing back but McCall has also utilised the set-piece specialist in a central midfield role. He should not be the biggest price in the entire market to score anytime and the 25/1 offering from Betfair has to be worth a wee punt at the price.
Wood hit the crossbar against Stevenage and also registered a shot in the other home game against Colchester. He should be on free-kicks from the right hand side too given his devilish left foot. It’s a longshot but remember, we bet the price, this price is too big.
Bradford vs Harrogate – Bradford City +0 Asian Handicap (37/40 Bet365)
Bradford vs Harrogate – Both Teams To Score (4/5 William Hill)
Bradford vs Harrogate – Connor Wood to score anytime (25/1 Betfair)