CHAMPIONSHIP fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) oversees Tuesday night's EFL action, picking out his best bets.
MK Dons vs Shrewsbury | Tuesday 24th November 2020, 19:00
MK Dons saw their four-game unbeaten come to an end at the hands of league leaders Hull on Saturday, where Josh Magennis struck twice for the Tigers. They host Shrewsbury and have the perfect chance to bounce straight back to winning ways.
Russell Martin’s side are attracting plenty of plaudits for the way they play through the thirds and their possession-based style. That’s highlighted with the 60% average of possession per game this season, so you can expect them to see plenty of the ball here.
It’s just one win so far for struggling Shrewsbury and that came at AFC Wimbledon last month. Since then, they’ve lost five of their seven games, while they squandered 2-0 and 3-1 leads against Swindon when drawing 3-3.
Of the eight points they’ve collected, five have been on the road, so a more passive approach could suit them and that’s how they’re likely to play here given MK Dons set up.
I’m taking a slightly different approach to this one and it’s by backing under 40 booking points with Sky Bet. It might come as a bit of a surprise given MK Dons have seen the most yellows in the league (29), while Shrewsbury rank joint-fourth with (24).
However, there is some reasoning behind playing this bet. Firstly, the hosts have given away the second-fewest fouls, an average of 11.8 per game, while Shrewsbury gives away 14.6. So, with a free-flowing, possession-based approach, it’s a surprise to see them rank first for cards.
The second and biggest factor for this bet is referee Darren Drysdale. He’s one of the safest pair of the hands in the Football League and his relaxed demeanour allows him to oversee games without throwing cards around like confetti, unlike some of his colleagues.
Just one of Drysdale’s 11 games this season have seen 40+ booking points and that was Northampton v Cardiff in the League Cup, which saw 70.
In those 11 games, he’s shown 23 yellows and one red – that’s quite a low count proving his relaxed style. And, when you break it down to strictly league games, he’s shown 12 yellows in seven games – an average of 1.7 per game.
The highest booking points total in a league game he’s taken charge of this season is 30 – and that was a Yorkshire derby between Bradford and Harrogate. In fact, four of his seven league games have seen just 20 booking points, so there’s a lot to like about going unders on the cards here. It’s just not his style to chuck them around unnecessarily.
At the time of writing, only Sky Bet had cards priced up but I’m keen to back unders here. Under 30 booking points is 5/2 and that’s won in eight of Drydale’s 11 games, but I’ll take under 40 booking points at 11/10 for a further degree of safety.
Newport vs Walsall | Tuesday 24th November 2020, 19:00
League Two leaders Newport left it late to beat 10-man Port Vale on Saturday with veteran Kevin Ellison bagging a 96th-minute winner.
Here at Rodney Parade, that was their sixth successive home league success taking their record here to P6, W6 with 10 goals scored and four conceded.
Saturday’s win saw them record 21 shots in the box, so they eventually did make their man advantage count. Michael Flynn wants to see his side take more of the chances given they did record 25 shots in that game. Afterwards, he said: “I’d just like more composure in front of goal.”
Being more ruthless would make lighter work of some opponents, but Newport have been impressive in their opening 12 games.
They sit third for shots (197), fourth for shots on target (61) and they average 16.7 shots per game. While going the other way, they only allow around 10.4 shots per game on their own goal.
The Exiles have conceded just 10 goals, which is the joint-second fewest, and impressively, their Expected Goals against (xGA) in home games is a measly 0.79xGA, so they don’t give too much away.
It’s four defeats on the bounce for Walsall in all competitions. They were well beaten a Cheltenham on Saturday, losing 3-0.
Before that, they lost 1-0 at home to Southend, who were winless at the time, and in that one, they spurned a spot-kick and had Alfie Bates sent-off late on.
Darrell Clarke can’t be happy with what he’s seeing from his players and he blasted a “soft” second-half display in that defeat at Cheltenham.
It leaves them 15th in the league with just three wins in 13 games to start their season. Worryingly, only four teams have scored fewer goals and that’s an area they’ll have to improve.
The Saddlers have an Expected Goals (xG) of 1.34xG per game this season, which isn’t too bad, but they don’t take their chances. They’ve had 149 shots and 52 on target – a conversion rate of 23%.
On the road, Walsall generally frustrates opponents without winning. Their record is P6, W0, D5, L1 – just one of those draws was earned against the top ten, while the defeat was on Saturday against second-placed Cheltenham, so up against the league leaders they are likely to be up against it.
Newport have started to shorten since my first look on Sunday, but given all six wins have seen three or fewer goals, so I’ll head to the Bet365 Bet Builder and put under 5 goals with a home win. Again the price is shorter than over the weekend, but 11/10 still looks a great price.
It might be worth looking at referee Charles Breakspear too – the EFL cardshark. He’s shown 40+ booking points in seven of last eight, while he showed 85 booking points on his last visit to Rodney Parade, as Newport beat Watford in the League Cup.
This season, Walsall have been shown 24 yellows and two reds. The Saddlers picked up four yellows in the defeat at Cheltenham, so might have their work cut out against the league leaders.
Tranmere vs Carlisle | Tuesday 24th November 2020, 19:00
Keith Hill takes charge of his first Tranmere game against another side flying in League Two in Carlisle. But the social media backlash might prove he has a lot to do to win over the Prenton Park faithful.
Rovers are unbeaten in their last five in all competitions and have won their last three in the league, scoring 10 goals in the process, so you could say caretaker Ian Dawes got a tune out of the side and may have deserved a proper crack at the permanent role.
It’s a tough start for Hill up against a side with play-off aspirations and Chris Beech sets his side up with an attacking 4-3-3 and they love to get forward.
Carlisle picked up their second away win on Saturday, easing past Crawley 3-0, although two defenders found themselves on the scoresheet.
All the metrics for Carlisle point towards success. Their average xG per game is 1.78xG, the second-best while breaking it down to away games specifically; it’s 1.68xG, so not much of a drop-off.
In terms of shooting, they do trouble the opposition defence and goalkeepers. They rank top for shots (212) and top for shots on target (67), so it could be a busy one for this Tranmere defence.
Gime Touré has had 29 shots, 12 of which have been on target, but is yet to score, while team-mate Jon Mellish has had 30 shots, eight on target with seven resulting in goals. There is some 3/1 with Betfair knocking around on Mellish finding the net here at Prenton Park.
But I’ll take Carlisle corners in this one. They’ve taken 85 so far this season, an average of 6.5 per game. More importantly, they’ve had more in away games (49) than they have at home (36).
The shooting data proves part of the reason why they win corners, plus the wing play from the likes of Touré and Joshua Kayode.
In six of seven away games, they’ve had 6+ corners and overall, it’s 10 from 13 where Carlisle have taken 6+ corners, so the 11/10 with Sky Bet looks worthy of a punt.
As I started writing this 5+ was 10/11 and 6+ was 7/4, so somebody out there is on the same wavelength with the price moving while I was typing this out! 5+ is now 4/6, which is short enough for a corners bet, so I’ll take the 6+ line with its 77% strike-rate in Carlisle games this term.