Football League Betting Preview & Tips: Devon delight for Grecians


FOOTBALL LEAGUE expert Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) reveals his favourite selections from the weekend's EFL action. 

Swansea vs Rotherham | Saturday 21st November 2020, 15:00

Swansea boss Steve Cooper has been linked with the vacant Derby job but the Swans supremo remains in situ at the Liberty Stadium for Saturday’s home showdown with Rotherham and I’m happy to support the Welsh outfit in their quest for a sixth Championship success this season.

The hosts burgled a late play-off place in 2019/20 having enjoyed a superb run of results following lockdown. Swansea have continued their upward trajectory this term with only Brentford (37) earning more points than Cooper’s charges (36) over the 20-game sample since the enforced COVID-break back in March (W10-D6-L4).

Sitting three points off the summit coming into the weekend contest, Swansea sit top of the tree in terms of Expected Goals (xG) and xG open play ratio, and have already recorded five shutouts, conceding more than a solitary strike on just one occasion. Indeed, only Middlesbrough are giving away fewer open play opportunities than the Swans.

Rotherham are no easy meat and look unlikely to fold on their latest venture into the second-tier. However, Paul Warne’s outfit have been beaten in all five meetings with current top-10 outfit, scoring just one goal in the process so far this season. The hard-working Millers are also struggling to carve out clear-cut chances, other than set-pieces.

Neither of these two teams have been involved in a Championship clash that’s featured five or more goals as yet and so I’m happy sticking Under 4.5 Goals in to alongside a Swansea triumph at odds of 19/20 with Betway. Last term Swans won 12 of 18 encounters with teams in 16th and below and lost only three games against sides outside the top-10.

Gillingham vs Charlton | Saturday 21st November 2020, 13:00

Bang-in-form Charlton are chasing a seventh successive League One success on Saturday when they travel to regional rivals Gillingham. The Addicks have shot up the third-tier standings to sit just three points off the top with games in-hand, and Lee Bowyer’s defensively-adept guests have already churned out seven clean sheets in 10 games.

The recently-relegated visitors have taken top honours in four of their five road trips this term, silencing each side they’ve overcome, including high-flying Portsmouth in Athletic’s most recent road trip in League One. Charlton have achieved their flying recent form despite a plethora of injury issues, particularly at the back end of the pitch.

The Londoners may have overachieved against expectations based off performance data figures in their 10 opening outings but it’s still difficult to oppose the Addicks at the Priestfield Stadium considering the plight of their hosts.

Gillingham ended a five-game losing streak last time out in League One but the Kent outfit have been beaten by all five top-half opponents thus far.  Steve Evans’ troops have scored once in nine hours of league football and are giving away the division’s fourth-most open play opportunities and facing the third-tier’s highest average for shots from inside the box.

Hull, Portsmouth, Sunderland and Fleetwood have all departed with 2-0 triumphs from trips to Gills and Charlton should be well capable of following suit in Saturday’s early start. Just two of the duos combined 21 tussles this term have featured more than four goals so again I’ll bolster the odds on offer to 29/20 (William Hill) by adding Under 4.5 Goals into the equation.

Exeter vs Oldham | Saturday 21st November 2020, 15:00

Exeter have been a bit of an old favourite for this Football League column in recent seasons, particularly in this position. When the Grecians welcome bottom-half League Two fodder under Matt Taylor’s tutorship, I’m always interested – the Devon outfit boast a formidable W14-D4-L4 return in that sample, an exceptional 64% win rate.

That win rate implies odds of around 4/7 would aptly reflect Exeter’s ability in this spot. Obviously, that’s not how compilers price up football matches but it is interesting to note that the Grecians have taken top honours in nine of their last 11 St James’ Park showdowns when odds-on favourites over the past 12 months from average odds of 3/4.

So City tend to be reliable operators when expectations are high and the hosts come into Saturday’s latest League Two match-up with struggling Oldham unbeaten in 10 (W5-D5-L0) league games and within touching distance of the top-three. No surprise therefore that Taylor’s troops are offered at prices no bigger than 3/4 against the Latics.

Exeter have registered victories in four of five home outings despite four of those visitors occupying top-10 berths and further back the Grecians have suffered only two defeats in 24 regular season matches in Devon. The home side sit comfortably clear at the top of the Expected Points (xP) table and impress across a range of major data metrics too.

In contrast, Oldham’s appalling effort in a 2-0 home defeat to Scunthorpe last time out was Athletic’s seventh reverse in 12 under Harry Kewell. The guests are yet to keep their sheets clean, have shipped two goals or more on seven occasions and managed just four points 11 games (W1-D1-L9) when travelling to an odds-on favourite since the start of 2018/19.

Exeter are fair enough at 3/4 (BetVictor) but I'll be greedy and get the 23/20 (Betway) onside for the match to produce Under 4.5 Goals.

Best Bets

Swansea vs Rotherham – Swansea to win and Under 4.5 Goals (19/20 Betway)

Gillingham vs Charlton – Charlton to win and Under 4.5 Goals (29/20 William Hill)

Exeter vs Oldham – Exeter to win and Under 4.5 Goals (23/20 Betway)

About Author

The big cheese at WLB. After starting his career in newspaper journalism, Mark soon found his way into the online betting world, forging a career in content, social media and marketing production before setting WeLoveBetting up soon after the 2014 World Cup. With a huge passion for stats, analytics, the EFL and European football, Mark’s other interests include playing rugby, following his beloved QPR and travel.

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