Brighton v Sheffield Wednesday: Goals on the cards at the Amex
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, the home side must go on the attack at the Amex on Monday night's and that makes over 2.5 goals terrific value according to Andy Tongue...
"We know that Brighton will have to throw men forward - they may as well go down all guns blazing."
Brighton v Sheffield Wednesday
Play Off Semi-Final, Second Leg
Monday 16 May, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports 1
Just about everything that could go wrong did on a nightmare Friday 13th at Hillsborough for Chris Hughton's side with four men going off injured in the 2-0 defeat, leaving them to play the last 30 minutes with ten men. Connor Goldson, top-scorer Tomer Hemed, Steve Sidwell and Anthony Knockaert are all expected to miss the second leg.
One piece of good news for Albion amongst all the gloom is that centre-back Lewis Dunk will be available for this having missed the first-leg through suspension. James Wilson, on loan from Manchester United, who came on for Hemed is set to lead the line in place of the Israeli.
Carlos Carvalhal's bold decision to rest ten of his first-choice starting XI at Wolves the week before paid off handsomely as his side made a mockery of the 15-point gap in the table with their opponents and dominated Friday's first-leg with goals either side of half-time from Ross Wallace and Kieran Lee.
It could have been even better for the Owls with leading scorer Francesco Forestieri having a first-half goal disallowed for offside after lengthy consolation between the referee and assistant linesman. Having beaten one of the sides above them for the first time this season, Wednesday will be full of confidence going to the South Coast in the belief they can book a place in the final at Wembley on May 28.
Brighton are the [2.36] favourites with an away win [3.45] and the draw [3.3]. This looks a tricky market to call as Wednesday can clearly still lose by a goal and go through to the final. Their away form wasn't that great this season though - six wins, nine draws and eight defeats - so Albion will feel they are still in with a shout despite the stat that no side has come back from a two-goal deficit after the first leg of a Championship play-off to reach Wembley.
They won 15 of their 23 home games in the regular season, although they did fail to beat four of the top six here (the win over Hull very early in the season being the exception) and while I don't put too much store in previous results against particular opponents, those who do will note that Wednesday are unbeaten in their last three trips to the Amex.
With a two-goal advantage, Carvalhal will also have to decide whether to stick or twist and we all know how fragile that margin of lead can become if the home side do get the first goal - Wednesday might regret not driving home their advantage and getting a third goal at Hillsborough which would have all but killed off the tie.
Brighton are available at [5.5] to qualify and there could be a touch of value in having a small stake on that outcome - it's only half-time in the tie after all. Everything considered, it's a tricky game to call and I'm going to give the match odds a swerve in favour of the goals markets, where I think there's a some definite punting value.
Over/Under 2.5 goals
The market has unders as the favourite here [1.7] with overs a juicy [2.28] which I find surprising and think offers us a good bet. We know that Brighton will have to throw men forward - they may as well go down all guns blazing. And I'll reference Alan Thompson's excellent piece on some Championship play-off trends again.
Yes, Wednesday did buck those trends by winning the first-leg but that actually makes it more likely that we'll see his other highlighted trend occur here - over 2.5 goals. He suggests backing overs in second-legs when the odds are greater than [1.8]. Well, they're [2.28] here and if Hughton's men are to have any chance of turning things round they need to score at least two goals in normal time.
The Seagulls have scored two or more in seven of their last ten games so will feel they are in still in with a shout in front of their own fans, even without Hemed. Wednesday are sound but by no means impregnable defensively - they conceded more than any other side in the top six - but at the same time Carvalhal's team will fancy their chances of picking their opponents off on the counter-attack at some stage of proceedings, so overs has to be recommended best bet at the Amex.
Back over 2.5 goals at [2.28] *best bet
Wagered: 226 pts
Returned: 256.76 pts
P/L: +30.76 pts
*2pt best bet if stated
1pt other recommended bets