Blackpool vs Gillingham | Monday 5th April 2021, 15:00
The race for play-off places is heating up around the Football League and these two sides are both in the mix for a post in the League 1 off-season.
Blackpool currently hold that final spot but need to hold off several challengers, including today’s opponents Gillingham, who are just two points worse off.
The hosts are flying, having lost just once in 16 (W9, D6) and it’s this current run that has seen them fly up the league table and bolster those promotion ambitions despite the slow start they had.
The Gills are another in-form side in the third-tier, with just one defeat in their last nine (W5, D3). Steve Evans has already said if they were to win this one that “it would be the best result of the season”.
He was also glowing in his praise for the Seasiders and Neil Critchley, so he’s aware of the dangers that the hosts possess. And that takes me to the play in this one.
Jerry Yates has been in fine goalscoring form for the Tangerines and he’s 19/10 to score with Unibet, while he’s 5/1 to open the scoring with the same firm.
He’s joint-fifth in the League 1 Golden Boot standings on 16, level with Plymouth’s Luke Jephcott. His goals have been a big factor in helping Blackpool mount a strong end of season challenge.
The former Swindon man netted against the Robins in Blackpool’s 2-0 win on Good Friday, taking him to four goals in his last three.
What makes it more appealing is the fact he’s on penalty duty. He’s scored all six of Blackpool’s penalties this season in the league and they’ve had two spot-kicks in their last two home games.
With Demetri Mitchell and Sullay Kaikai able to torment defenders, turning them inside out, there’s a chance of another here with their direct dribbling.
What makes this more appealing is the fact that Gillingham have only kept four clean sheets in 19 away games. So, with Yates flying in front of goal, take him to score at 19/10.
Rochdale vs Ipswich | Monday 5th April 2021, 15:00
It’s off to Spotland for the next bet and this one will have consequences at both ends of the table. Rochdale are bottom, five points adrift of safety after falling to defeat against Portsmouth on Friday.
Their home record is pretty dismal with just one win on all season (D8, L9), although they did hold promotion-chasing Peterborough to a 3-3 draw in their last home outing.
Brian Barry-Murphy’s side does have Swindon and AFC Wimbledon to come in the final few weeks of the season and they could be pivotal in deciding which tier they start next season in.
Ipswich are in the hunt for a play-off spot but have only won twice since Paul Cook came in following the takeover – both of those wins came at Portman Road.
Their recent away form has hampered their push for a top-six spot with no win in four on the road (D1, L3), including a disappointing goalless draw at relegation-threatened Wigan.
I did spot something in Ipswich away games, which is something I’m looking to follow in this one. The hosts have picked up at least two cards in 13 of 17 Ipswich away games.
So, the Tractor Boys manage to draw fouls, and with their ambition to get out of the league, they need to be on the front foot and try to pin Dale back in their defensive third.
The hosts have Matty Lund (9), Eoghan O’Connell (7) and Kwadwo Baah (7), who are regulars in the referee’s notebook and could well have to get through plenty of defensive work in this one.
While Ipswich look up, Rochdale are staring down. They need to turn things around and fast but could find their backs to the wall at times in this one.
Dale have picked up at least two cards in seven of their last eight at home, so will be prepared to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in.
The price is skinny enough for 20+ Rochdale booking points or over 1.5 cards, so to boost it, use the Build #YourOdds feature with William Hill and add in over 0.5 Ipswich cards.
Ipswich have picked up at least one card in 36 of their 37 league games this season, including all 17 of their away matches.
So, with teams hosting Ipswich picking up plenty of cards and Ipswich having a penchant for cards, then over 1.5 Rochdale cards & over 0.5 Ipswich cards at 21/20 looks a fair enough price given that the outcome will impact both ends of the table.
The Tractor Boys have picked up 2+ cards or 20+ booking points in 12 of 17 away games, so there will be some interest in both teams over one card at 7/4 (William Hill) despite having a referee who tries to keep his cards in his pocket.
Exeter vs Mansfield | Monday 5th April 2021, 15:00
We’ll drop into League 2 for the final pick this Easter Monday, where the play-off race is also intensifying. Exeter are one of the sides in the mix but are going through a tough patch, losing four of their last five.
The Grecians home form has been key in sustaining their challenge, winning 10 of 18 here at St James Park. Their hopes could be pinned on playing several sides towards the bottom of the table, especially at home
It starts with the visit of Mansfield, who themselves have only won twice in 13 games meaning they’re nine points clear of the drop zone.
Nigel Clough’s men have beaten Forest Green and Cambridge on the road, but they came before the turn of the year. Recent away form is a concern – no win in seven on the road, while they’ve failed to score in four of their last five.
Away from form and the outright markets, I’ll be playing Mansfield most booking points at EVS with Sky Bet.
It could be a bit of a clash of styles this with Exeter looking to get it down and play through the thirds, while Mansfield are a more direct side.
This season no side has seen fewer yellows than Exeter in League 2 (30). Mansfield rank mid-table for cards with 52 yellows and four reds.
Break it down further to home and away figures, you’ll see the Stags have picked up nearly double the number of cautions than Exeter have at home – 31 Mansfield yellows in away games compared to 16 for the Grecians in their home games.
The visitors arrive at St James Park averaging nearly two fouls more per game (12.7 v Exeter’s 10.6), so given the expected dynamic of the hosts having the lion share of possession, they can draw the fouls from the visitors.
I’d expect Mansfield to pick up at last two cautions here or 20 booking points, something they’ve done in 10 of their 19 away games and, more recently on the road, the Stags have collected totals of 45 (v Bradford), 55 at Barrow and 20 at Crawley. They’ve even picked up 30 in their last two homes games against Grimsby and Forest Green.
So, with that in mind, the fact that Exeter have only picked up two or more cards in three of their 18 home games should stand us in good stead.
Carl Brook will oversee the proceedings. In 14 League 2 matches, he’s shown 54 yellows and three reds, so his yellows per game average is 3.86.
He’s been in charge of these sides already this term. He oversaw Exeter’s EFL Trophy defeat against Northampton, giving the Cobblers all four yellows. While he gave Mansfield two of six cards against Grimsby.
With 17 of his 24 games in all comps seeing at least three cards, then we should see him reach into his pocket. And with Mansfield likely to be on the back foot, I’ll take them to feel the referee’s wrath, especially if the fouling is persistent.
Blackpool vs Gillingham – Jerry Yates to score anytime (19/10 Unibet)
Rochdale vs Ipswich – Over 1.5 Rochdale Cards and Over 0.5 Ipswich Cards (21/20 William Hill)
Exeter vs Mansfield – Mansfield most booking points (1/1 Sky Bet)