FOOTBALL LEAGUE expert Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his best bets from Saturday's EFL card hoping to seal a second successive winning treble.
Crewe v Cheltenham | Saturday 5th May 2018, 15:00
Crewe are finishing the season with a bit of a flourish; the Railwaymen have won seven of their past 13 games, scoring in each and averaging almost two goals per-game in the process.
Tipped by yours truly to contend for League Two promotion this term, David Artell’s troops never really got going. However, the Alex are determined to sign-off in style and well aware that victory here would see the hosts better last term’s points tally.
There’s also been plenty of good news emanating from Gresty Road this week to add to the feel-good factor that’s returned to Cheshire. Youngsters James Jones, Charlie Kirk and Callum Ainley have all signed new deals to the joy of supporters.
Meanwhile, in-form striker Jordan Bowery is hoping to usurp team-mate Chris Porter to the club’s top goalscorer gong – Bowery currently trails Porter by one as we enter the final weekend of the season, creating plenty of in-house entertainment and excitement.
Crewe do look a tasty price at 31/20 (Bet365) considering their current credentials and their W8-D3-L1 home record when welcoming teams in 10th and below but I prefer to add a bit of security to the selection by taking 188BET’s unique market of Crewe double chance and Over 1.5 Goals.
The hosts have now scored in 19 of their past 22 matches since Boxing Day, 15 of which featured both sides scoring. The Alex have seen their past 17 games average 2.85 goals per-game with 11 of their past 12 paying out for Over 2.5 Goals punters – that latter sample averaging 3.67 goals per-game.
Last season nine of their final day’s 12 League Two tussles provided BTTS profit and I’d expect something similar on Saturday, especially with Cheltenham in town.
The Robins have performed strongly according to the data for the majority of the campaign but for one reason or another, have failed to turn their supposed superiority into anything other than a campaign of mid-table obscurity.
Supporters seem undecided over Gary Johnson’s future but arguably more alarming is the situation in the boardroom where long-term chairman Paul Baker stepping down after 21 years of service.
On the field, goalkeeper Scott Flinders is absent through injury and highly-rated Harry Pell is unavailable with Cheltenham agreeing a fee for the midfielder with an unnamed club this week.
Captain Carl Winchester may return to shore up the midfield having missed last week’s abomination against Coventry through injury – the Robins were stuffed 6-1 by Coventry, their worst defeat for 26 years. It was also their fifth reverse in five and the visitors have kept just two clean sheets since Boxing Day.
Despite the obvious issues surrounding Town, the guests have managed to find the back of the net in all bar seven of 38 League Two outings since mid-September, as well as in 18 of their 22 away days. A chunky 68% of those encounters featuring three goals or more so either way, entertainment should follow.
Mansfield v Crawley | Saturday 5th May 2018, 15:00
Crawley have been a constant in these columns in recent weeks and I see no reason why we should divert away from the tried-and-trusted goals plan.
The Red Devils have delivered two or more goals in each of their previous 20 League Two tussles with Harry Kewell’s charges scoring in all bar one match since Boxing Day. However, the Sussex side have kept their sheets clean in only four fixtures since October.
In 2018, Crawley have returned Over 2.5 Goals in 16/20 (80%) of their league dates and those games have averaged a mighty 3.45 goals per-game. The visitors have seen Both Teams To Score bank in each of their last 10, as well as 16 of those 20 tussles this calendar year.
What’s more, Kewell’s troops have seen BTTS pay-out in their last seven trips to top-half teams, with these matches averaging 3.7 goals per game. Therefore, I’m happy enough taking the 10/11 (Unibet) on Both Teams To Score providing profit once more.
Mansfield must take maximum points and hope one of Coventry or Lincoln are defeated on Saturday to have any hope of sealing a top-seven finish. The big-spenders know a point isn’t good enough and so we should expect the Stags to take an attacking approach from the get-go.
David Flitcroft’s Swindon team were ripe for goals-based punting plucking and it seems his Mansfield side is following suit. Indeed, BTTS selections have landed in nine of Mansfield’s past 12 outings, including each of their past five despite all five arriving against bottom-10 sides.
Forest Green v Grimsby | Saturday 5th May 2018, 15:00
Forest Green have struggled more than they may have expected in their debut Football League campaign but ultimately the Gloucestershire outfit’s January spending spree and renewed confidence in Mark Cooper paid off as the Green Devils delivered League Two survival with room to spare.
As well as a number of new additions, the Nailsworth team can look to their form at The New Lawn for reasons of progress. Forest Green picked up seven wins (W7-D0-L2) on home soil since New Year’s Day to secure their spot in League Two and I’m counting on those excellent efforts continuing on Saturday with Cooper keen to sign-off in style.
The Green Devils are solid 6/4 (William Hill) favourites and have a full squad to choose from after goalkeeper Brad Collins was passed fit after suffering a concussion a fortnight ago. There’s also a touch of needle in the home ranks that might require addressing at some point.
January signing Gavin Gunning unnecessarily fanned the flames ahead of his meeting with Grimsby, a club he spent time on-loan at last season. The defender said he “hated” his time at Blundell Park and that grudge could further motivate the hosts in what should be a fairly relaxed campaign concluder.
Grimsby’s 2-1 triumph over Notts County secured their League Two status last weekend as rookie boss Michael Jolley completed his remit. There was huge relief around the Cleethorpes club and the Town manager revealed he may now be open to changes as he looks ahead to 2018/19.
The visitors have only lost once in five but the majority of their resurgent results occurred at Blundell Park and Grimsby have still managed just W1-D2-L9 on the road since December. The guests may lack a little motivation following last weekend's celebrations and also have Siriki Dembele and Scott Vernon carrying knocks.
Crewe v Cheltenham – Crewe double chance and Over 1.5 Goals (4/5 188BET)
Mansfield v Crawley – Both Teams To Score (10/11 Unibet)
Forest Green v Grimsby – Forest Green to win (6/4 William Hill)