MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) picks his favourite treble from the weekend Football League coupon. And there's a chance to win another Free Bet from our sponsors 888 Sport and vital Cash Race points in our brand new competition!
Crawley Town v Gillingham | Saturday 15.00
What were you up to on Valentine’s Day? Did you whisk the mrs away to a romantic getaway and shower her with strawberries and champagne? Were you prowling the local bars looking for love? Or did you stay up in your pants, eating pizza and waiting for a late night date with Manish and the Football League Show?
Well, if you chose the latter option, you’d have been there at the beginning of a beautiful journey that’s seen Crawley record W6-D1-L4 in their past 11 games under the guidance of Dean Saunders. Now I’m not afraid to admit it, I think the guy is a bit of a bellend but credit where it’s due, after an initial five-point return from a possible 24, the Welsh wizard has turned the sinking Red Devils ship around.
Yep, the 5-1 hammering handed out to Barnsley on Valentine’s Day was the first of those six wins that have seen Town claw their way out of the relegation zone and the late surge has left many believing Crawley could well keep their third tier status intact. It’s three victories on the spin and Saunders’ charges are outsiders for their clash against Gillingham on Saturday.
But I’m treading carefully. I’m not a fan of following long winning or losing streaks as they don’t often last long, especially in the Football League. And so, I’m much more interested in the 4/5 from Ladbrokes that Both Teams To Score will land at Broadfield Stadium on Saturday.
With Izale McCleod, Lee Fowler and Anthony Wordsworth, the hosts have plenty of ammunition in forward areas. The Red Devils have scored in 16/19 home league outings this term but only kept six clean sheets – unsurprisingly that’s led to 11/19 (58%) of winning BTTS bets when Crawley have entertained.
I’ll keep things short with Gillingham. A run of one win in seven has all but ended the Gills’ chances of a play-off charge and Justin Edinburgh appears to be beginning work for 2015/16 already. The former Newport boss made four changes to the team against Colchester last time out and might be looking to follow suit on Saturday.
However, the Kent club have lost just once on their travels since January and are well capable of extending that record. On the road this season, Gillingham have scored in 13/19 but only kept three shutouts of their own. Those stats have led to a healthy 12/19 (63%) of Both Teams To Score winners.
If we put both BTTS win % together and find the mean, we should be expecting a 60% chance of a repeat when the two teams lock horns. That equates to odds of 4/6 in betting terms yet Ladbrokes are offering us a best price of 4/5. It’s a nice value selection to get us started.
Leyton Orient v Port Vale | Saturday 15.00
So let me get this right; Leyton Orient have won just 4/19 (21%) of their League One games at Brisbane Road this season but they’re odds-on to beat Port Vale on Saturday? That makes sense!
The Londoners looked to finally be turning the corner after collecting three wins in four and then sweeping fellow strugglers Yeovil aside but three defeats in five have sent the O’s right back into the relegation mire. Sure, there’s plenty of quality in the squad but Fabio Liverani’s team are being outfought on too many occasions.
Last weekend’s crushing 1-0 loss at Crawley illustrated the lack of fight and a return to familiar territory is unlikely to reap rewards for Orient. The O’s boast the second worst home record in the division and will also be without lively attacking Ryan Hedges this weekend, who’s away on international duty.
Sure, Port Vale have lost 10/19 (53%) of their away days this term and yes I know they’ve been beaten in their last three outings but two of those defeats came against top-six opposition and Robert Page’s men have been more resilient in their recent road trips.
Three wins from their previous four on their travels suggests Vale have the know-how to get results on the road and Page’s men performed reasonably well in their most recent reverse against Sheffield United. With just a six-point cushion ahead of the dreaded drop zone, there’s still plenty of motivation for the Valiants to avoid defeat and with BetVictor dangling even-money in our direction for Port Vale in the double chance market, it just has to be snapped up.
Portsmouth v Shrewsbury Town | Saturday 15.00
I normally look at the Football League prices on a Tuesday, make a few notes and revisit on Wednesday with fresh eyes and firm up my early views. So on Tuesday morning I made a note simply saying, ‘Pompey – big?’.
Well, I spent most of Wednesday and the early hours of Thursday throwing my guts up and so when revisiting my notes, I wondered whether those initial thoughts were barmy or on the money. I agreed, Portsmouth do appeal this weekend but even tying those words just seems like a whole world of wrong.
Andy Awford’s team have been awful for the majority of the season but they do not deserve to be 5/2 rags for the visit of Shrewsbury on Saturday. Back in August they were 8/1 ante-post favourites, the Racing Post tipped them to top the table and there was a buoyant mood on the south coast.
But today Portsmouth are sitting in 13th and nine points off a play-off place. Make no bones about it, it’s been a terrible campaign for Pompey. They should be fighting for promotion and although a top-seven finish isn’t yet beyond Awford’s team, it’s unlikely.
So why am I keen to invest my cash in the 2008 FA Cup winners? Well their Fratton Park form remains reasonably strong. Portsmouth have W10-D5-L4 on home soil this campaign – that’s the seventh best record in League Two this season.
Opponents Shrewsbury spent big in the summer, hoping for an immediate return to the second tier. And although Micky Mellon has kept the Shrews on course for promotion, their season has been built around their fortress New Meadow home.
When playing away, Shrewsbury have W7-D4-L8 and so with a 42% loss rate on their travels, it staggers me to see the Shrews chalked up as short as 13/10. Six of those seven victories were secured against sides below Portsmouth in the table and their record against top-half clubs on the road reads a pathetic W1-D3-L6; it could yet end up costing Mellon’s men automatic promotion.
Being the conservative punter I am, I’ll get the draw onside and snap up the hugely generous 11/8 from BetVictor on Portsmouth in the Draw No Bet market.
Crawley Town v Gillingham – Both Teams To Score (4/5 Ladbrokes)
Leyton Orient v Port Vale – Port Vale double chance (1/1 BetVictor)
Portsmouth v Shrewsbury – Portsmouth draw no bet (11/8 BetVictor)
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Mark's shared his favourite Football League treble and now it's over to you guys. Pick a win-draw-win treble from the Football League this weekend and should it win, we'll give you 10 Cash Race points.
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