FOOTBALL LEAGUE expert Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) returns to share his favourite fancies from Saturday's coupon.
Hull v Ipswich | Saturday 18th November 2017, 15:00
Hull boss Leonid Slutsky admitted he didn’t have the answers to the Tigers’ recent tailspin following a third successive defeat before the international break. City were stuffed 4-1 at Sheffield United with the Russian head coach claiming his squad are devoid of team spirit and lacking a strong mentality.
Supporters on Humberside will be hoping the international break will have helped heal recent wounds but it’s hard to find faith in Hull right now. The hosts have dropped to 20th in the league ladder and sit just four points above the relegation zone.
Slutsky’s side are aiming to avoid a third home loss on the spin for the first time outside of the Premier League since November 2010 and considering 10 of their 16-point tally arrived against the current bottom-four, it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise to see the Tigers turned over by Ipswich.
Town are sitting pretty in eighth, only two points outside the top-six with a game in hand. Mick McCarthy’s men have bagged W8-D0-L7 in their first 15 Championship contests with seven of those triumphs being sealed against bottom-half teams.
A recent switch from a rigid 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1 has given the guests a bit more freedom going forward, in particular Bersant Celina, with the Tractor Boys as clinical as ever in the final third. Indeed, Ipswich have racked up 26 goals – the third-most in the league despite firing in the third fewest attempts.
Labelled the ‘fab four’ by Suffolk supporters, McCarthy may well choose to unleash Joe Garner, David McGoldrick, Martyn Waghorn and Celina again – the quartet having notched 25 goals between them in all competitions – sensing Hull are far from watertight defensively.
However, the visitors are looking short in central midfield. Emyr Huws and Teddy Bishop are still not ready for first team action, while Tom Adeyemi isn’t due back until December. Cole Skuse will play but elsewhere, defender Tommy Smith is unlikely to feature having arrived back in the country on Friday following international duty with New Zealand.
Such absences should encourage Hull. The Tigers have Brazilian midfielder Evandro fit and Michael Hector back from suspension but Fraizer Campbell is now banned leaving the East Yorkshire outfit reliant on energetic 20-year-old Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki for spark and invention.
I’m expecting a goal-filled game at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday considering the pair have managed only six clean sheets in a collective 31 Championship matches this term – it’s one in 15 between them when looking at home/away records in isolation. The duo have only fired blanks on four occasions and their collective average total goals per-game sits at a healthy 3.42.
So Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score appeals at 21/20 (Coral) – it’s collected in seven of Hull’s eight outings at the KCOM, as well as six of Ipswich’s seven games as guests. And to add further clout, the Tigers; opening eight home encounters have seen 35 goals in total – the most since 1965 at Boothferry Park.
Charlton v MK Dons | Saturday 18th November 2017, 15:00
Charlton manager Karl Robinson welcomes former club MK Dons to The Valley on Saturday as the third-placed Addicks return League One football for the first time in three weeks.
Athletic arrive in decent nick having picked up four wins in five unbeaten league matches, shipping a sole goal against in four League One outings whilst also sealing FA Cup progress. This has all been achieved despite Charlton putting together a strong of outstanding performances.
The Addicks have lacked fluency in the final third, relying on gritty, hard-working displays to eke out the necessary results. The hosts have scored exactly one goal in each of their last four fixtures and managed only three goals in their past four games at The Valley.
The home side are unbeaten in seven (W4-D3-L0) but three of those four triumphs have arrived via the 1-0 correct score. Nevertheless, Robinson’s troops have sealed five victories in seven on home soil and going back further, Charlton have claimed eight wins in 10 in front of their home supporters.
Ahmed Kashi and Josh Magennis are back in the fold and I’d fancy the Addicks to grind out a positive result here against an MK Dons side that’s struggled for consistency all season.
The visitors picked up their first win in six as they beat Fleetwood 1-0 at home last weekend but Robbie Nielsen’s charges have proven pretty poor travellers with five defeats in eight; MK may have picked up three wins in games as guests but all came against clubs currently occupying the bottom-four positions.
Slow starts have so often proven the Dons’ downfall; the visitors have conceded a league-high proportion of their goals in both the first-half of games (58%) and opening 15 minutes (29%) this season and with only the bottom-four finding the net less often, I’m happy to oppose the Buckinghamshire club.
As already suggested, I’m not expecting a thrill-a-minute here so I’ll take the 6/5 (188BET) on Charlton in the Double Chance market and Under 2.5 Goals. The most recent six meetings between the pair have featured fewer than three goals, as have 11 of Charlton’s last 18 at the Valley plus 11 of MK Dons’ previous 14 on the road.
Forest Green v Crewe | Saturday 18th November 2017, 15:00
Crewe boss David Artell admitted his team must start picking up results if he’s to keep his job at Gresty Road. A promising start to the season has long since evaporated and the Alex have tumbled from fourth to 20th following a run of nine defeats in 11 League Two matches.
Injuries have hit the Railwaymen hard but Artell is aware that Crewe have been the architects of their own downfall more often than not of late and I’m not at all confident in their chances of avoiding a fourth successive reverse at in-form Forest Green.
Despite a victory over Rotherham in the FA Cup, the visitors have suffered six straight defeats on their travels in League Two, failing to score in four, and should be opposed on their first ever trip to the New Lawn this weekend.
Forest Green’s recent return of 11 points from six fixtures puts Mark Cooper’s men joint-second in the form table and the Green Devils will feel they should have earned even more. Last weekend the Gloucestershire outfit hit the woodwork on three occasions during a 1-1 draw at Crawley.
Christian Doidge had given the Greens the lead only for a very late equaliser to deny the Football League newcomers maximum points for the fourth time in five fixtures. And with the hosts shipping only two goals in five fixtures, progress is now being made defensively by the home side.
Macclesfield were knocked out of the FA Cup and it’s also worth noting the Green Devils are unbeaten in games against the bottom-half this season (W3-D3-L0) so I’m keen to keep them onside here.
I’ll be taking the 4/6 (BetVictor) on Forest Green +0 in the Asian Handicap market. if the game ends all-square, we’ll see our stake returned as a push.