FOOTBALL LEAGUE analyst Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) returns with his best bets from Tuesday's EFL action.
QPR v West Brom | Tuesday 19th February 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports
QPR’s rare 5th Round outing in the FA Cup ended in disappointment on Friday night as Rangers were unable to make their opportunities count in a 1-0 home defeat to Watford. The Premier League outfit scored with their first effort on-target and saw the game out whilst surviving a couple of scares when the R’s put the pressure on.
Steve McClaren was proud of his team’s effort and application despite sliding to a sixth defeat in eight outings. From the outset, that rotten W1-D1-L6 run is concerning but supporters and Championship followers can vouch for the R’s being competitive, and at times unfortunate, in the majority of those matches.
Winless since a Boxing Day triumph over rock-bottom Ipswich, QPR will now will to pick up the points their performances have deserved when welcoming high-flying West Brom. But in a congested run of games, I’m not holding out a huge amount of hope for the hosts upsetting the odds on Tuesday night.
Rangers have W3-D3-L13 when taking on teams in 14th and above, and that includes six defeats from nine Loftus Road encounters with the top-half. McClaren’s men have leaked at least twice in 10 of their most recent 16 Championship contests and may struggle to keep the Baggies quiet in West London.
Albion secured a vital victory at regional rivals Aston Villa on Saturday – their ninth success in 16 away days since relegation – and know victory here will close the gap on second-placed Sheffield United to a solitary point. Darren Moore’s men have W10-D4-L3 against bottom-half teams and have won each of their last three on the road without conceding.
WBA are fair 6/5 favourites to take top honours but I’ll take the slightly safer approach by backing the Baggies double chance and Over 1.5 Goals at 8/11 (Bet365), mindful of QPR’s far-from-poor displays in recent weeks. This selection would have won in 13/17 (76%) of Albion’s games with the bottom-half and 10/17 (59%) of QPR’s duels with the top-half.
Barnsley v Burton | Tuesday 19th February 2019, 19:45
Luton might be attractive all the League One headlines but Barnsley have crept back into title contention following a fabulous 29-point return from their most recent 11 matches (W9-D2-L0). The Tykes are on a six-match winning streak at Oakwell and look well worth supporting enhancing that streak when Burton pitch up on Tuesday night.
Daniel Stendel’s side remain far-and-away the leading performers in the Expected Goals (xG) from open play ratio rankings with a 71% share and after a wobble leading into the festive period, appear to have found their mojo once more. Top goalscorer Kieffer Moore remains absent this midweek but Barnsley enough ability to overcome that loss.
The Tykes fired in seven on-target efforts and generated 2.29 xG when beating Wycombe 2-1 on Saturday – the ninth occasion in 16 Barnsley have scored at least twice at home – and there’s mileage in boosting the 8/11 odds available on a home win here by chucking Over 1.5 Goals into the mix for a 21/20 play from Ladbrokes.
Sixteen of Barnsley’s 19 League One triumphs since demotion have arrived alongside Over 1.5 Goals with only three of 16 Oakwell encounters falling below that line. The home side are averaging over 10 shots from inside the penalty area per-game and have racked up an average of 1.75 goals as hosts. They’re certainly not lacking in firepower.
Burton are enjoying a run of one loss in 10 (W3-D6-L1) since Christmas but the Brewers have been dealt a kind run of fixtures with only sixth-placed Doncaster and 11th-placed Wycombe the only top-half opposition during that sample. Albion have picked up two points on their travels to the division’s elite (W0-D2-L4), leaking at least twice in five of those six.
Nigel Clough’s charges are still looking towards a top-six finish, although those ambitions are likely to be curtailed in South Yorkshire this midweek.
Notts County v Newport | Tuesday 19th February 2019, 19:45
Newport’s cup exploits finally came to an end on Saturday as Mike Flynn’s heroes went down 4-1 at home to Manchester City. The Exiles produced a competitive effort for the most part of that match at Rodney Parade and should be proud of their battling display against the defending Premier League champions.
But County could be brought back to reality with a bump on Tuesday when travelling to resurgent Notts County. A raft of January signings have aided County’s survival prospects and Neil Ardley’s men have deservedly fought back to within touching distance of fellow relegation battlers Macclesfield and Yeovil.
The Magpies know victory on Tuesday night will see them move out of the bottom-two for the first time since November and the home side look well worth supporting on the Draw No Bet market at 4/5 (Betfred).
County have been the better team in meetings with promotion-chasing Lincoln, Forest Green and Mansfield this month, collecting seven points along the way. Ardley’s outfit restricted rivals Mansfield to zero on-target strikes on Saturday and have now returned W4-D6-L2 when welcoming clubs in 17th and above this season.
As well as a potential cup hangover, Newport have also regularly failed to repeat their Rodney Parade heroics on the road. The Exiles have claimed triumphs in only three of their 15 games as guests (W3-D3-L9), shipping two goals or more in eight of those encounters.
Since October, Newport have registered just five victories in 21 League Two tussles (W5-D6-L10) and Tuesday night looks like a great opportunity to oppose them again.