Football League Betting Preview & Tips: Cards key on Tuesday night


FOOTBALL LEAGUE fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95oversees Tuesday night's EFL action, picking out his favourite fancy. 

Swindon vs Oxford | Tuesday 9th March 2021, 19:00 

It’s hard to ignore a derby between two sides that lie 30 miles apart. And after a few heated clashes in the 1970s, it’s fair to say that these don’t get on.

Swindon claimed bragging rights when the sides met in November, running out 2-1 winners after two late goals, with Tyler Smith netting a 90th-minute winner.

There was no love lost in that game with seven cards dished out (70 booking points), and you can expect more of the same at the County Ground tonight.

The Robins are hovering above the drop zone, so they’re in desperate need of points.

The U’s are on a rotten run themselves. They’re winless in six in all comps (D4, L2) and have failed to score in five of those. It’s seen Karl Robinson’s side drift to five points off the play-offs, denting those hopes.

I had a bet lined up for this one as soon as I saw the referee appointment the other week, so I’ll jump in with the bet. The price has dropped, but there’s still scope.

It’s both teams over 1 card at 13/10 with William Hill #YourOdds. And it looks like a very good play with Football League cardshark Charles Breakspear in the middle.

He’s issued 97 yellows and six reds in all comps this season. And in 10 League One games, he’s showed 42 yellows and four reds – 4.2 yellows per game.

Before the game earlier this season, previous meetings between the two were in 2016/17. While those don’t have too much credence, it helps paint a picture of the rivalry.

In that season, they met three times – two of which saw current Premier League officials Stuart Attwell and Paul Tierney in charge – and all three saw this bet come in.

Over those three games, the booking points totals were 120, 95 and 95, while in for cards, they were:

Oxford 2 v 9 (two reds) Swindon

Swindon 3 v 5 (one red) Oxford

Swindon 6 (one red) v 2 Oxford

That shows there’s a high card count in these games, and we’re lucky to have a referee who can’t help reaching into his pocket.

Swindon have had over 1 card in 76% of home games this season, while it’s 56% for Oxford away games (61% overall).

You’d expect that to be higher for Oxford – the U’s rank top for fouls per game (15.3) in League One this season. Both sides rank highly in the fouled per game charts – Swindon (fifth at 13.5) and Oxford (seventh at 13.3).

If you’re on Sky Bet, who use booking points, Swindon have had 20+ in 22 games this season compared to 19 for Oxford.

But the best price is with William Hill (13/10) for both teams over 1 card. It’s a strong shout given the rivalry and with a referee who has a penchant for cards.

I’d also look to have a small play on a red card in the match at 15/4 with the same firm. Breakspear goes through phases with his red card and looking at his recent games, he’s currently having one.

He showed three in his first five games of the season, while, more recently, he’s given three in his last six.

So, play cards in this derby that’s had six red cards in their last eight clashes. 

Leyton Orient vs Stevenage | Tuesday 9th March 2021, 19:00

Another referee who isn’t card-shy is Alan Young. He’s the man in the middle for Stevenage’s trip to Leyton Orient.

Alex Revell’s side are now unbeaten in six (W3, D3) and have kept four clean sheets in a row, helping them climb away from danger.

Meanwhile, Leyton Orient will look to bounce back from a heavy 4-0 defeat against play-off chasing Exeter on Saturday.

I’ve been crunching the numbers ready for this one to find a cards bet that quite attractive. It’s a 21/20 Build #YourOdds on William Hill that contains three picks.

Put these three angles together:

  • Over 2.5 cards in the match for both teams,
  • Over 1.5 cards for Leyton Orient
  • Over 1.5 cards in the second half

Referee Young has dished out 101 yellows and two reds in 24 games in all comps. And, he’s given the home side 20+ booking points/over 1 card in 17 of 24 middles.

In 21 of 24 games, he’s showed at least three cards, while he’s issued three or more in 15 of 16 league games.

If you look at League 2 matches he’s officiated, all nine have seen 3+ cards. They’ve seen 38 yellows (4.2 per game) and one red. A solid foundation for the starting point of a cards bet.

For the second part of Orient cards, it’s simple to explain – no side in League 2 has received more cautions than the O’s (64).

They picked up four cards in their weekend defeat at Exeter, while they’ve over 1.5 cards in 12 of 16 home games (75%).

Part three is second-half cards. The game state will dictate this, and, on paper, it looks likely to be hard-fought.

When you look at when Young issues his cards, he’s shown 14 first half cards and 25 in the second.

And when Young took charge of Leyton Orient’s EFL Trophy game against Bristol Rovers, it saw plenty of cards – 95 booking points in total with 55 going to Orient.

In terms of our bet, a repeat of that would be grand. There were seven yellows and one red, five cards for Orient, with them all coming in the second half. And that takes some going, no matter the official.

The numbers look great for these three parts, so putting them together gives you a tidy 21/20 play with another card-happy official. 

Harrogate vs Colchester | Tuesday 9th March 2021, 19:00 

Harrogate’s play-off push hit a bump in the road on Saturday, losing 1-0 at Stevenage. But it was against the run of play in a game where the Yorkshire side were on top.

The visitors rued missed chances following Elliott List’s second-half winner, with it being a game they should have at least taken a point. Town outshot their hosts 17-7, with them having three shots on target to Stevenage’s two.

Simon Weaver’s men look to have a great chance to dust themselves down and get straight back to winning ways against Colchester. And the 10/11 (William Hill) on a home win has to be of interest.

The reason being is Colchester’s dismal form of late, while their away record is horrific.

 The U’s have won once since Boxing Day. While, their record in 2021 is: P11, W1, D4, L6. And, they’ve failed to score in seven of those.

They fell to a 2-0 defeat against Newport at the weekend, which saw Frank Nouble dismissed for two bookings, so he’s suspended.

Wayne Brown’s side will be looking nervously over their shoulders with Southend improving in recent weeks, while Barrow picked up three points at the weekend.

Their gloom is likely to continue as they make the long trip north. The U’s have an away league record of P16, W1, D7, L8, and they’ve scored just 10 goals in those games.

A toothless Colchester could well draw a blank here – they haven’t scored in their last six road games. Harrogate have kept four clean sheets in their last six – winning their last three home games 1-0.

It’s worth factoring in Harrogate’s improvement in recent weeks as well. Heading into last weekend, they ranked 4th over their last four games for expected points (xP), while they ranked top of that metric over their last eight games and third over their last 12.

So, they’re performing to a decent and consistent enough level to be picking up points, and when you compare that against Colchester over the same four/eight/12 games, you’ll see the U’s ranking 24th/21st/ 21st – so lowly in contrast to tonight’s hosts.

If you look at expected goals (xG), over 16 games, Harrogate’s rating is around fourth compared to Colchester down in 23rd. The hosts rank top in their last eight games, hinting that there could be a gulf in quality on show.

While I don’t mind the price on a home win, we can get some odds-against by going for a low-scoring contest. 14 of 15 Harrogate home games have seen under five goals, while that’s been the case in 14 of 16 Colchester away games.

Heading to the Bet365 Bet Builder feature, I’ll pair a Harrogate win with under 5 goals to get an attractive 21/20 play.

With Weaver’s men running out 1-0 winners in their last three home games, it’s worth mentioning that you can get 11/2 with Bet Victor on that outcome once more.

Best Bets

Swindon vs Oxford – Both Teams Over 1 Card (13/10 William Hill)

Swindon vs Oxford – A red card in the match  (15/4 William Hill)

Leyton Orient vs Stevenage – Over 2.5 Cards, Over 1.5 Leyton Orient Cards and  Over 1.5 Second-Half Cards (21/20 William Hill)

Harrogate vs Colchester – Harrogate to win and Under 5 Goals (21/20 Bet365)

About Author

Matt is a graduate in sports journalism and is currently plying his trade as a content editor for a major betting company. He was bitten by the betting bug when backing horses and continues to do so. His main sporting interests are football, horse racing and darts. Matt is a Stoke season ticket holder and enjoys going to gigs.

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