Football League Betting Preview & Tips: Bluebirds and Grecians to serve up a storm


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

Barrow vs Exeter | Saturday 2nd January 2021, 15:00

Barrow have begun life after David Dunn reasonably well. The Cumbrians have collected seven points from a possible 12 (W2-D1-L1) and are currently enjoying a three-game unbeaten streak to remain just above the dreaded bottom-two in League Two, heading into Saturday’s showdown unbeaten with promotion-chasing Exeter.

Michael Jolley is the new man in the dugout and he’ll be keen to build upon a solid home record since promotion that’s seen the Bluebirds beaten just twice in 11 tussles at Holker Street. Barrow have been plagued by stalemates (W2-D7-L2) but do tend to provide plenty of threat in the final-third, as evidence by their record of scoring in 16/21 (76%) this term.

And I’m expecting the newcomers to make their mark again this weekend in a game earmarked for the Both Teams To Score coupon. The hosts have silenced just three opponents in 2020/21, leading to 13 (62%) successful BTTS plays. At Holker Street, 8/11 (73%) matches have paid out in the same Both Teams To Score market.

If Barrow’s numbers are encouraging, Exeter’s are the best in the division. The Grecians have posted 14/19 (74%) BTTS winners this term, notching in all bar two of their outings and managing just four clean sheets along the way. Away from their Devon base, Matty Taylor’s men have seen both sides score in all bar one of their nine games as guests.

These two teams occupy top-six berths for shots on-target per-game, whilst averaging over seven attempts from inside the opposition penalty area. Both Teams To Score has been chalked up around the 4/5 mark with Red Zone, and that’s just too big to ignore.

Newport vs Southend | Saturday 2nd January 2021, 15:00

Newport lead the way in League Two and the Exiles should come into this clash rested and refreshed following the postponement of their midweek match with Exeter. The Welsh club’s promotion push has stalled in recent weeks (W2-D4-L2) but Michael Flynn’s men remain a devilishly difficult side to oust at Rodney Parade (W7-D1-L1).

County are short odds-on favourites to enhance that excellent return against improving Southend on Saturday, however, I’m happy to overlook the traditional 1×2 and handicap markets and instead focus attention on cards as there’s an intriguing trend I’m keen to take advantage of.

Newport’s opposition have been carded at least twice in 17 of their 20 League Two matches, including a full house of 9/9 Rodney Parade match-ups. The hosts new-look approach has seen the Exiles enjoy the third-largest share of possession in, with no team coming close to drawing anywhere near as many fouls as County’s 15.80 per-game average.

Paul Howard has the whistle for this one and across 11 league encounters this term, the referee has averaged 3.45 cards per-game and 39.09 Booking Points. That’s enough to make the 4/5 (SkyBet) on Southend to see 20+ Booking Points worth a poke, particularly as the Shrimpers have seen this angle of attack land in half of their 10 road trips.

Forest Green vs Oldham | Saturday 2nd January 2021, 15:00

A similar selection could pay dividends in Gloucestershire as Forest Green entertain Oldham. Mark Cooper’s hosts have a tried-and-trusted way of playing; the Green Devils have long been League Two’s possession kings, and The New Lawn outfit have also sprayed the most successful and accurate passes around per-game in the fourth-tier this season.

Naturally, the monopolisation of the ball attracts plenty of attention from the opposing sides and Forest Green’s adversaries have been carded in 18 of their 21 outings in 2020/21. A healthy 14 (67%) of those rivals have picked up a minimum of 20+ Booking Points, including seven of 10 visitors to The New Lawn.

Resurgent Oldham are fifth in League Two’s disciplinary standings, averaging 1.86 cards per-game. The Latics have picked up 20+ Booking Points in seven of 10 away days, as well as 12 of their most recent 17 encounters across all venues. Harry Kewell’s team occupy a bottom-six position for average possession, and top-half perch for fouls and tackles per-game.

For those new to Booking Points, a yellow card = 10 points and a red card = 25 points. A second bookable offence results in a total of 35 points.

Best Bets

Barrow vs Exeter – Both Teams To Score (4/5 Red Zone)

Newport vs Southend – Southend 20+ Booking Points (4/5 SkyBet)

Forest Green vs Oldham – Oldham 20+ Booking Points (4/5 SkyBet)

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.


    • Mark O'Haire on

      We’d love to but unfortunately have struggled to find the right contributor for consistent coverage of the National League.

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