Football League Betting Preview & Tips: A Royal appointment


FOOTBALL LEAGUE fan James Potter (@thebettingdeskoversees Saturday's EFL action, picking out his favourite fancies. 

Reading vs QPR | Saturday 20th March 2020, 15:00

Reading are the go-to team for opposition cards this season and I am going to get involved.

I initially wasn’t interested in this game for cards as Dean Whitestone the ref is very lenient with his cards with a championship average of 2.11 per game but then in my research, I noticed that he has taken charge of two previous Reading games this season and over those two games he has handed out nine yellows and two reds, with the opposition collecting a red card in both.

Looking a little further back and in his last six games in charge of Reading matches he has handed the opposition two or more cards in five of them. In fact, his average yellow cards in these six games is 3.83, an increase of 1.72 per game from his average.

Rangers this season have collected an average of 1.83 cards per match, picking up at least one card in thirty one of 36 games this season. Away from home they average 2.12 cards, collecting at least one card in 16 of 17 games and two or more cards in 12. Whitestone has taken charge of one previous Rangers away game this season and dished out two cards to them.

Reading have seen their opponents collect at least one card in thirty four of thirty-seven games this season with just Norwich, Bournemouth and Wycombe the only sides this season not to collect a booking when playing the Royals. Brentford have been awarded the fewest cards this season in the championship so maybe not so much of a surprise and just seven teams have collected fewer than Norwich.

From their 37 matches this season a huge thirty teams have collected two more cards when facing Reading, that’s 81%. Given this statistic and Whitestone recent record (small sample I know) I am keen to get on Rangers cards. Unfortunately, the odds are poor at 8/13 with Skybet, but if we head to William Hill and take Rangers Over 1.5 Card and Reading to score, we have odds of 21/20.

Reading have found the net in 15 of 18 home games this season scoring in 11 of their last 12. Only two sides have more shots on target than Reading at home this season and they average 1.56 goals per home game, which only 4 sides can better.

Rangers have kept a clean sheet on their travels in six of 16 games. However, four of these were against side in the bottom half and their record when visiting the top half is P7 W2 D3 L2 with two clean sheets – Bournemouth and Cardiff.

Over the last 8 games only fours side have a higher xGA and three of the sides sit in the bottom eight. Over the same eight games only five teams have conceded more shots in the box with two of these teams occupying the bottom three spots. In contrast, Reading has the 4th highest number of shots in the box with a xG of 1.22.

I think combining Rangers over 1.5 cards which has landed in 77% of Reading home games and 70% of Rangers away games and then a Rangers goal which has landed in 83% of their home games and 64% of Rangers away games, at just over even money looks good to me.

Queen Park Rangers Over 1.5 Card and Reading to score Over 0.5 Goals at 21/20 with William Hill.

Fleetwood vs Swindon | Saturday 20th March 2021, 15:00

This bet has landed in 82% of Swindon’s away games and we can jump onboard at 4/5. That makes sense to me.

Fleetwood seem to be hitting form at just the right time. Simon Grayson has come in and looks to finally got them playing how he wants. An indifferent start where he only won one in 6 games, they are now undefeated in five and have won four of the last five games beating Lincoln, in form Gillingham and then dominating the home game with top six rivals Ipswich.

What’s noticeable about the hosts under Grayson is that they are creating more chances. Under previous manage Barton they were averaging a xG of 1.14 and this has now increased to 1.33 which includes the rather dire performance against Northampton where they generated a xG of 0.2.

Since that game, it's increased to 1.45. Shots have also increased from 11.1 to 13.5 and shots on target 4.75 to 5.33, with 7 last time out against Ipswich. Again, since then Northampton match it’s been:  5,7,6,4,7 shots on target.

Their recent form has been good. Over the last 8 games I have them 6th in the division and if we look across the season at home my rankings show them in 7th, expected points 5th and points per home game 8th. I would expect the points per game to increase and they only have Posh at home to play with the reminding home games against sides that currently sit 14th and below.

They appear to have a fully fit squad and Grayson has been keen to play down the chances of a play-off push despite collecting thirteen points from a possible fifteen and he wants his side to continue with the same style and manner of play.

“It doesn’t matter who we play, whether it’s a team near the top or the bottom, we have to make sure we do the same things. We must show the same attitude we have in the last few games, keep the platform and keep building. All I know is that we are going on a run, which I wanted us to do and knew we were capable of doing. We’ll take each game as it comes along and see where it takes us”.

Top scorer Callum Camps should return from injury. He has 11 goals this season.

Swindon sit bottom of the table and that where they deserve to be. I have them 22nd in my away rankings, 24th on away expected points and 24th on points per away game. Their recent form over four, eight or twelve games as them 19th, 23rd and 22nd. It looks desperate for them.

No side has a higher away xGA or conceded more away goals with an average of 2.19. They concede an average of 14.1 shots per game, with just one side conceding more. No side concede more shots on target with 6 per away game.

Swindon have conceded in every away game this season and have only kept two clean sheets from their thirty-five games this season, beating Wigan 1-0 and Bristol Rovers 1-0. Both sides sit within the bottom six of the league table and 15th and 21st respectively for points per away game.

Just three sides have failed to score 1.5+ goals – Oxford was back in November, when they were on an awful run and is a local derby. Hull, who went 1-0 up and controlled the game, restricting Swindon to a xG of just 0.19 and Sunderland.

Only three sides have failed to hit ten or more shots and Swindon have only managed to keep the hosts to three or less shots on target once with Gillingham managing two goals from three shots on target. On top of this they have only managed to restrict their hosts to a xG of less than 1.5 in five of sixteen games

Veteran striker Brett Pitman admitted Swindon Town ship goals too easily after three more last weekend saw the League One strugglers beaten by Gillingham. “It’s been the story of our season, it’s too easy to score against us week in, week out and that’s not just the defence, that’s a collective because we concede from set-pieces.”.

He then went on to question some players motivation, which may not help the situation. Manager John Sheridan has decided not to quit after consideration his position. The club has persuaded him to stay on. If that turns out to be a good idea time will tell.

Given the up turn in form with Fleetwood, Swindon conceding in every away game and conceding 1.5+ in 80% of away game this looks a good price at 4/5.

Fleetwood to score Over 1.5 Goals is 4/5 (Bet365).

Rochdale vs Peterborough | Saturday 20th March 2020, 15:00

Peterborough should be too strong for a Rochdale side that has a home record of P17 W1 D7 L9 with nine of their ten home points coming from visiting sides outside the top ten. Their only home victory came back in early October when they beat Fleetwood 2-1, in what was a deserve three points although this did take a 90th minute winner.

The victory over Fleetwood was the only time this season where they have generated a xG greater than 1.5 and only the fourth time this season at home they have restricted the visitors to ten or less shots and four or less shots on target.

Dale have kept just two home clean sheets and just four from thirty-five games, all of which have come against side in the bottom nine.

When welcoming teams in the top nice positions they have conceded 1.5+ in all 6 games. Only one side has a higher xGA with 1.6 or concedes more goals at home with 2.06. No side concedes more shots on target or allows the opposition more touches of the ball in their box and just one side concedes more shots at home.

At the other end is almost as desperate, 20th for xG with 0.94 and only one side scores more home goals om average with just 1.0 and just 4 sides have fewer shots on target.

I have them as the 23rd in my home rankings and they sit 24th in both home expected points and points per home game. Even if we look at the ratios for some positivity, we find them 23rd for home xG, 24thfor goals, 23rd for shot ratio, 23rd for shot ratio and 24th for shots on target ratio. This is a side that is regularly being out played and out shot at home.

They have scored once in their last five home games and have now gone 321 minutes since last finding the net at home.

Posh come into this match with Sunderland and Lincoln hot on their heels so know that they must win here.

Posh manager Ferguson said about the match “There are not many teams with nothing to play for, and Saturday is a very, very dangerous game for us. Rochdale will be fighting for their lives, they have got a real confidence booster from the weekend, and I have watched the game against Lincoln, and they were very good in it. They are a very good footballing team. I have looked at them and will continue to do that and we will prepare for the match properly.”

Whilst they were good, I think that needs to be put into perspective, it was their first win in ten games with seven defeats and second win in eighteen games. However, what’s important is that they appear to be taking this game seriously and not just expecting three points.

Posh are not the best travelers and have only kept a clean sheet in 35% of away matches, whilst failing to score in the same number.  They sit 7th in my rankings, expected away points and points per away game and over the last twelve games they are 2nd for expected points. No side has a higher xG over the twelve games, only two sides have a lower xGA and only Hull have conceded fewer shots in the box.

I feel that if Posh turn up with the right attitude they should be able to get something from this game. Sammie Szmodics is a doubt but is expected to play, if not Burrows will continue.

Of all players in League One with 10+ appearances this season, Burrows ranks second for expected assists per 90 minutes (0.32). Essentially, he should be creating a goal every three games with only Gillingham’s Jordan Graham ahead of him.

Burrows is first in League One for key passes (shot creating passes) with 1.32 every 90 minutes. The fact he’s not played many mins and come on as a sub a lot will boost his numbers, but it’s still very impressive.

Clarke Harris and Dembele are both fit. These two have twenty-seven goals between, whist Dembele has nine assists and Ward eight.

I am happy to take Posh to win this match and then add in over 1.5 goals to boost this to 2,15 with Bet365. Rochdale have kept a clean sheet in just two home games and conceded 1.5+ in each match they have played at home against the top nine team. Posh need a win and should see this as a must win match against a very poor Rochdale team.

Peterborough to win and Over 1.5 Peterborough Goals at 23/20 (Bet365).

Best Bets

Reading vs QPR – Reading to score Over 0.5 Goals and QPR Over 1.5 Cards (21/20 William Hill)

Fleetwood vs Swindon – Fleetwood to score Over 1.5 Goals (4/5 Bet365)

Rochdale vs Peterborough – Peterborough to win and Over 1.5 Peterborough Goals (23/20 Bet365)

About Author

I started betting on football more seriously whilst at university where I thought I knew everything about football. However, I quickly realised that the use of data gave you an edge. All my bets are based on statistical model output and research. When I haven't got my head in data I am life long Ipswich fan.

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