Football League Betting Preview & Tips: Goals forecast for Liberty


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

Swansea vs QPR | Tuesday 20th April 2021, 19:00 | Sky Sports

Swansea’s hope of stealing the second automatic promotion place from Watford were dealt a blow on Saturday after failing to beat basement boys Wycombe.

Strikes from Jamal Lowe and Liam Cullen within three minutes of each other earned the Swans a point, but they were dealt a significant blow early in the game when Andre Ayew was forced off with a hamstring injury.

They did, however, have a stroke of luck in that first half when Admiral Muskwe’s shot was blocked, replays suggested with an arm of a Swans defender, but referee Keith Stroud didn’t adjudge an infringement.

QPR can let the shackles off and play with freedom knowing they can’t go up and are safe from any danger below.

Mark Warburton’s side are inconsistent, and you never know which R’s team will turn up – that’s emphasised by three wins and two defeats in their last five.

When they get the ball down and knock it around, they look a slick side that can carve out chances. But they’ve got forward players who can mix it up and go direct if needs be to hold it up and bring runners into play.

Rangers had only won four times in their opening 22 games up until 29th December. Since then, they’ve recorded 12 wins in 20 and they’ve picked up several decent scalps in that run since the new year.

They’ll hold no fear going to the Liberty Stadium given this recent upturn in form. They’ve already beaten second-placed Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road, while they also got the better of both Bournemouth (5th) and Brentford (4th) by the same score.

I’ve got two angles I’m taking. The first is over 2.5 goals at odds-against, which has to appeal with both of these having lapses in defensive concentration from time to time.

QPR’s last seven games have seen 26 goals, an average of 3.7 per game – six of those have seen the ball hit the net at least three times. In that run, Warburton’s side have notched 15 times, with Lyndon Dykes bagging four in four.

The summer signing has reached double figures and now looks settled into life in the capital. He turned provider for both goals at Middlesbrough on Saturday, so will provide plenty of threat to this Swans backline.

If you look at the Expected Goals model, QPR have a better rate than Swansea – 56xG v 49xG. That shows that the visitors haven’t put away the clear-cut chances they’ve created this season, something Warburton will look to improve on next season.

While he’ll want to improve their backline. QPR’s expected goals against is at 56.5xGA, putting them inside the bottom six in that metric. And those frailties could be exposed against a Swansea side who have netted seven times in their last three games.

Jamal Lowe has four in his last three, so the hosts will look to him to fill the void in the likely absence of Ayew, and I think he’s more than capable of doing so.

The pressure is on Swansea here to make sure they give themselves a squeak of the automatic places, especially if Watford loses to the already promoted Norwich. In recent weeks they’ve felt that as well, with slip-ups in four of their last five home games (W1, D1, L3).

Over 2.5 goals has shortened from 6/5 to EVS but still looks a play to me with the way the goals have flowed in QPR games of late, and with both sides having struggles defensively, they could well be exposed.

While on the theory of goals, the second play is more of a price play that’s too big to ignore. When I started writing this on Sunday, Sky Bet had boosted QPR to win and both teams to score to 11/1. They look to have corrected the market to 8/1. Still, I think it’s too big!

As mentioned above, QPR have beaten three of the top six since February and have finally found a way to win games. Six of their last 10 victories have also seen them concede, so with Swansea having had a few struggles on home turf of late, including a 3-1 defeat to Bristol City, then that price looks worth half a point in my book.

Bristol Rovers vs MK Dons | Tuesday 20th April 2021, 19:00

I’ll move onto the League 1 relegation battle, where Joey Barton has his work cut out saving Bristol Rovers, who find themselves six points adrift of Wigan after the Latics’ recent wins.

The Gas have only won once in their last nine, so they’ve now got a mountain to climb to get themselves out of this peril, starting with the visit of MK Dons.

Russell Martin’s side have earned plenty of plaudits this season for their style of play, which sees them average 60.3% possession in games. After a slow start, his players have got to grips with it and it’s seen them climb to a steady mid-table position.

They beat Pompey 1-0 on Saturday and that was their first goal in four games after drawing blanks against Crewe, Ipswich and Lincoln. And, with Bristol Rovers failing to find the net in four of their last five home games, I wouldn’t expect a high-scoring affair.

Despite saying that I’m not looking at a goals market here. I’ll be playing the cards markets given that throughout the season, teams facing Bristol Rovers have picked up the most cards – 89 yellows and seven reds.

Even though they are a possession-based side, the Dons aren’t afraid to get stuck in – that’s why they sit joint-fourth for yellows (74), with them having the third-highest away cards total (37). That could partly be when they commit men forward and get caught in the transition.

So, baring that in mind, there are two potential angles of interest:

  • 20+ MK Dons booking points (EVS – Sky Bet)
  • Over 0.5 Bristol Rovers cards & over 1.5 MK Dons cards (23/20 – William Hill)

Greed has been in the news lately with the Super League, and I’ll be playing the latter.

Here are the arguments for both of those angles.

Rovers’ opponents have picked up 20+ booking points in 31 of 42 games this season, including 13 of 21 games here at The Mem – that includes Lincoln at the weekend, who collected 30 booking points in an ill-tempered clash that saw 105 booking points in total.

The Dons have picked up 20+ booking points in 12 of 21 away games this season, including 50 at Lincoln in their last road trip, as well as 20 at struggling Burton. Looking at the lower end of the table, they got that number of booking points in both games against Shrewsbury, plus their trip to Northampton, so they have form against some of the bottom teams.

If you’re new to booking points one yellow is 10, a straight red is 25 and a red card for a second bookable offence is worth 35.

The man in the middle for this one is James Oldham. He took charge of the reverse fixture showing three cautions – two to MK Dons and one to Bristol Rovers, and that would land the 23/20 play with William Hill, as well as the EVS with Sky Bet.

His overall profile is middle of the road in ranking EFL officials. He’s shown 76 yellows and four reds in 28 games in all comps. Breaking it down to League One games, he’s shown 44 yellows and two reds – an average of 3.14 yellows per game.

What makes this bet more appealing is the fact he’s got form with both of these sides this season. He gave MK Dons all four cards (40 booking points) in their 1-1 draw with Oldham.

While his other Bristol Rovers outing saw the Gas given all four cards in their defeat at Gillingham in February, so when needed, Mr Oldham can dish out the cards.

With the predicament that Bristol Rovers find themselves in, you’d expect them to pick up one card minimum to secure the over 0.5 cards angle for the William Hill angle. They’ve had at least one in 16 of 21 home games, including each of the last five. And let’s remember who their current gaffer on the touchline!

The case for over 1.5 MK Dons cards is similarly argued to the 20+ booking points angle, so if you got to William Hill and use the Build #YourOdds feature, you’ll get a very tempting 23/20.

Either angle looks good to me with this being a ‘must-not lose’ type of game for the hosts, therefore it could become quite a spicy affair. 

Grimsby vs Morecambe | Tuesday 20th April 2021, 19:00

Grimsby kept their great escape hopes alive with a win over third-placed Bolton on Saturday. Jay Matete scored his first professional goal before Ira Jackson netted a late second to secure the three points, although Wanderers did score a consolation in stoppage time.

Now Paul Hurst’s men must beat the side in fourth – Morecambe – to continue eating into the deficit, which stands at seven points. They’re in decent shape despite sitting at the foot of the table. They’ve lost just once in 10 – W2, D7, L1 – a clear sign that they’ve drawn too many.

Conceding late goals against Carlisle and Salford have been body blows to their survival hopes, but it’s the mindset and dynamic of trying to hold on to a lead that has been costly.

Morecambe are now one point behind Bolton, who occupy the final automatic spot, and will be eyeing this up as a chance to overtake them. Saturday’s 4-3 win over Oldham was somewhat of a rollercoaster, going 4-1 up inside 53 minutes before conceding two late goals to give the O’s hope.

But Derek Adams saw his side cling on to the three points and give those that followed Tom Love’s ante-post bet on the Shrimps plenty of optimism in the run-in.

At this stage of the season, you’re generally looking to find sides with something to play for – and this game fits the bill. Part of the mentality of going for promotion or trying to avoid relegation means risks may have to be taken more so than in the middle of a season.

That means goals could be on the agenda here at Blundell Park. Morecambe are the joint-third highest scorers in League 2 (62), while they’ve got the fourth leakiest defence, so it could be a theme that follows the visitors.

That’s highlighted by the data before Saturday’s game, which saw the Lancashire club creating 1.5xG per game in their last 12, while conceding 1.3xG over the same sequences, meaning we could see plenty of chances at both ends.

Both teams to score has been backed into EVS from 21/20 with RedBet and that still looks attractively priced with most firms around the 10/11-19/20 mark.

Since the start of February, Morecambe have played 17 times – 13 of those have seen both sides find the net. Break it down to away games, then it’s six of nine – a strike-rate of 67%.

Looking at the hosts, seven of Grimsby’s last 11 have seen this outcome, while here at Blundell Park, eight of the last 13 have seen both teams troubling the scorers.

One of the things that makes the hosts a threat here is their upturn in the final third. On Saturday, they registered 28 shots with 13 of those on target, so they will test the mettle of this Morecambe backline.

They’ll take plenty of confidence from their recent run, which has seen draws against high-flying Cheltenham (second) and Salford – both of those games finished 1-1 and in the draw with the Robins, they had 11 attempts.

If that’s room for optimism for Grimsby, then Morecambe’s shot tally of 17 on Saturday was nearly as good. Eight of those were on target, with half finding the net. Before that, they enjoyed plenty of success in a 4-1 win over struggling Scunthorpe – 12 shots, five on target with four goals.

Cole Stockton has three in four for Morecambe, with Saturday’s goal taking him to double figures, while team-mate Carlos Mendes Gomes sits on 15 for the league campaign after three in his last two.

If you like the head-to-head data, then both teams have struck in five of their last six, including on both occasions this season. In the league, Morecambe won the reverse fixture 3-1, while they also won a League Cup tie on penalties after a 1-1 draw over 90 minutes.

So, with automatic promotion and survival on the line, an early goal for either side could force their opponent to roll the dice and take a few risks. For me, that opens up a high possibility for both teams to score – at even-money, it’s worth having on side.

Best Bets

Swansea vs QPR – Over 2.5 Goals (1/1 Sky Bet)

Swansea vs QPR – QPR to win and Both Teams To Score (8/1 Sky Bet)

Bristol Rovers vs MK Dons – Over 0.5 Bristol Rovers Cards and Over 1.5 MK Dons Cards (23/20 William Hill)

Grimsby vs Morecambe- Both Teams To Score (1/1 RedBet)

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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