A clash of styles at the Pirelli, but back the draw in search of profit
Burton Albion v Portsmouth
Friday 15:00, live on Sky Sports Football
These two teams played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in October at Fratton Park and I wouldn't put anyone off backing the Draw again here at [3.35]. Pompey manager Kenny Jackett admitted after that game that not many teams had moved his side around as much as Burton did that night, so it will be interesting to see if Jackett (a coach who is well known for his meticulous work on shape in training) will change the game-plan.
The Over 2.5 is reasonably priced at [2.10] with that in mind – especially as Portsmouth don't keep stacks of clean sheets for an automatic promotion-chasing team. That's a minor fault, as Pompey have been in rattling good nick since the pressure at the top had been applied, and they have reeled off five successive victories. They also came good with our -1 bet last weekend at rather generous odds.
The away price for Pompey at [2.52] is fair, whilst Burton are priced about right at [2.98] considering their excellent spell of form of five wins in their last seven. That's the best of the campaign for Nigel Clough's side, and they can also play without any pressure as one of the few teams in this division that aren't in that dreaded bottom-half.
I struggle to get a handle on Burton, which is annoying as they are a good footballing team when they get it right. If they were around [3.80] I would be interested, although there's a chance with this being a live game on Sky, the more casual League One bettor might be dipping in to back the more famous Pompey – perceived as one of the giants of the division.
Who knows? The hosts' price might be pushed out to around [3.10]. But it's still not quite enough on a team that haven't produced a consistent set of results over the course of the season.
The bet of Portsmouth ‘No' in the Clean Sheet market appeals more, as they have only managed two shutouts from their last seven games. We'll stick with that and side with the Draw too.
Achilles' heel to trouble Sunderland again?
Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers
Friday 17:15 live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event
I remember para-phrasing Coventry manager Mark Robins earlier in the season, mentioning the Sky Blues as an exciting young team that were bound to hit someone for a few.
That was a good few months' ago, little did I expect it to come at Sunderland last weekend with a 4-5 victory. It was the first time since 1981 on Wearside that the Black Cats had conceded five, and that was also a first defeat at the Stadium Of Light for Jack Ross this season. One bad game doesn't make them a poor side, but it's hardly an ideal preparation for such a critical stage.
The equation is simple for Sunderland. They are third, two points behind second-place Barnsley with five games left to play. They are [2.06] in the Promotion market, and [13.0] for the title. Luton are [1.20], and that's a wobble I don't want to see.
Sunderland's problem all season has been the dreaded draw. Not for backers of that may I add, who would be showing a tidy profit if sticking with the draw. With nine stalemates at home and eight away, they could have been well clear had they converted some of those matches into three points. The Draw is available to back at [3.70], which is big considering their astonishing record at home.
By siding with that result, the klaxon should also be sounding for the 1-1. Backing this Correct Score for the season with the Wearsiders in League One would have yielded a massive profit. It's [7.40] for Good Friday, and they have an impressive 12 of those for the campaign. Twelve at an average of eight points would make a handsome tally too, if playing the 1-1 for all of Sunderland's games.
I am tempted with the Draw again, as Burton held Sunderland to a 1-1 recently, and Doncaster are a similar sort of team in the sense they like to play good football. Grant McCann has done an excellent job there, and Rovers should have a lot of confidence with four wins on the spin.
My natural feel for the game is that I don't fancy Sunderland, so for that reason I think we can take them on at odds-on.
Collins can help Hatters bounce back
Accrington Stanley v Luton Town
Saturday 17:30, live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event
Luton have set such high standards in League One that last weekend's 3-1 away defeat to Charlton was described by some as a wobble. That was their first reverse which ended their 28-game unbeaten run. Six months without a loss (and a change of manager) takes some matching. They have eased slightly in the Winner market at [1.20], but not much has changed with their price away from home.
They are usually around the [1.75] mark on their travels, and that's what we have for Saturday.
In those circumstances I like the -1 bet, which means no push, but even that looked a little on the short side at [2.06] on Thursday evening. However, there aren't too many other options for me.
Ergo, we must place that price in context of the opponent. Accrington have only won six times at home this season, and they have been struggling for goals of late at home with a run of 2000101. The ‘two' came against Walsall last weekend, and the Saddlers aren't great.
Luton's defeat at Charlton caused some headlines, but Charlton are probably under-rated, certainly by me anyway. They are a hard-knocking side at the Valley, whilst Luton were missing League One Player Of The Year James Collins in that loss. He was suspended, and as Luton play rigidly to a system, without him they didn't know what to do, hence why manager Mick Harford was frustrated by the way his team went long and direct in that game.
Collins is available for Saturday, and we should see a different side and approach. Harford has a few injuries to deal with and a thinner squad, but this team are so well-drilled that I expect a good response. After all, Luton haven't suffered back-to-back league defeats since 2016.
And if you are after a First Goalscorer bet for Saturday, Collins has 21 goals this season.