FOOTBALL analyst Gab Sutton (@_FootbalLab) dissects Tuesday night's EFL Cup action and picks out his best bets.
Burton v Nottingham Forest | Tuesday 30th October 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports
The last two times Nottingham Forest won this competition – in 1989 and 1990 – Nigel Clough played a prominent role.
The former striker led the line alongside Lee Chapman, then Nigel Jemson, in the finals against Luton and Oldham respectively and was revered at the City Ground for his work at the club over a nine-year stint, which saw him score 101 goals.
The Sunderland-born forward then settled at Burton Albion; he was player-manager with the Brewers for a decade in non-league and, following mixed stints at Derby and Sheffield United, returned to guide them to a historic promotion to the Championship.
Now Clough and Burton are back in the third-tier, the marriage has perhaps lost some of it’s sparkle with the team languishing in 16th.
However, victories in this competition over Aston Villa and Burnley show that sometimes it takes the visit of higher-league opposition for the East Staffordshire outfit to unite and re-discover the qualities that once made them such a force in the EFL.
Burton’s bullish backline
Burton have played nine home games this season in league and cup, conceding just six goals.
They boast the joint-best home defensive record in League One, keeping clean sheets on familiar soil against Doncaster, AFC Wimbledon, Scunthorpe, Bristol Rovers and of course Villa in this competition.
Lucas Akins, an attacking wide man by trade, started at right-back in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Peterborough, but that’s a risk Clough is unlikely to take against Championship opposition.
We could see John Brayford move to right-back to enable Jake Buxton, a Derby stalwart, to come in at centre-back, enabling Akins to move to the right of an attacking trio in Clough’s favoured 4-3-3 system.
Lead front-man Liam Boyce is top scorer with seven goals, including two in this competition, but he also gets through a lot of leg work which will be crucial in this type of match.
Will Forest perform?
After a summer of lavish spending, Aitor Karanka is under an element of pressure to master-mind a promotion challenge at Nottingham Forest, who currently sit seventh with just two defeats: against Brentford and Norwich.
Karanka made as many as eight changes for the 3-2 victory over Stoke in the previous round, which would indicate that he has faith in fringe players to perform in this competition.
Fans expect the Spaniard to deploy, in his usual 4-2-3-1 system, a double-pivot of Liam Bridcutt and Claudio Yacob.
Both ball-winners are very strong in the challenge, but neither offer the greatest range of qualities in possession; and they will see a lot of the ball against defensive opposition.
There is a danger that the deep-lying midfielders will not push on to offer viable options for the number 10, which is predicted to be Hillel Soudani, who has played 14 minutes of competitive football since August.
Goalless at the break?
Burton have scored just 21 first half goals in their last 59 encounters with teams in the top two divisions in English football, in all forms.
The Tricky Trees, meanwhile, have scored just 15 first half goals in 39 games in all competitions under Karanka’s leadership.
We could, potentially, have a scenario in which Burton are intent on staying compact in the first half and Forest lack the creativity to break them down.
For that reason, we see Marathon's 39/20 on the Half-Time Score being 0-0 to be good value.
The betting angle
The value lies with siding with the hosts, to whom the game carries the greatest significance.
It is unlikely though that, having scored 19 in 15 against League One opposition, they will score a hatful against Forest; it is much easier to envisage them being victorious through an industrious, defensive display.
For that reason, we recommend BoyleSports’ 16/5 on a home win with Under 3.5 Goals.
Burton v Nottingham Forest – 0-0 Half-Time Correct Score (39/20 Marathon)
Burton v Nottingham Forest – Burton to win and Under 3.5 Goals (16/5 BoyleSports)