Championship Betting: Cardiff to keep up title challenge

Thumbs up from Cardiff boss Malky Mackay

Jamie Dickenson takes an early look at this weekend's Championship fixtures and recommends wagers on three matches in Betfair's Fixed Odds markets...

"Whilst Malky Mackay’s side have lost thrice on the road - more than 11 other teams in the championship - they are a different proposition in front of home support and will want to reassert their dominance in the division against Burnley."

Cardiff v Burnley

Cardiff relinquished their status at the top of the Championship last weekend after slumping to defeat away to Nottingham Forest, but will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host Burnley.

The Bluebirds have been flawless in the league so far this season, winning all five of their games in the Welsh capital, with 11 goals scored and just three conceded. Whilst Malky Mackay's side have lost thrice on the road - more than 11 other teams in the championship - they are a different proposition in front of home support and will want to reassert their dominance in the division against Burnley.

The Clarets won their first match in five games when they produced a shock 1-0 victory over promotion-chasing Blackpool, as striker Charlie Austin's remarkable goalscoring form rewarded caretaker boss Terry Pashley. But Burnley have been weak away from home, losing four out of five this season. Austin may pose a goal threat again against Cardiff, but the managerless Lancashire outfit will struggle will contain their title-challenging opponents.

Recent games between these two teams have been tight affairs, with last season's fixture ending 0-0. In fact, the club's last five encounters have all conjured less than 2.5 goals. With a mid-week round of games to contend with, backing a low-scoring match looks sensible here at 2.26/5.

Middlesbrough v Bolton

Not long ago this match-up was a regular Premier League fixture, but Middlesbrough are the only side currently thinking about a return to the top flight and will be confident of continuing their good home form against toothless travellers Bolton.

The Boro have lost just once at the Riverside this season - a last-gasp 2-1 defeat to leaders Leicester - also winning three and drawing one. Tony Mowbray's side have been in impressive form on the road in recent games too, picking up victories in Blackburn, Brighton and Watford on their last three outings. Strikers Lukas Jutkiewicz and Marvin Emnes have both bagged four goals this campaign, and with the ex-Everton youngster out injured the Dutchman will be hoping to score in his third successive game.

Bolton have found adjusting to life in the Championship difficult, with chairman Phil Gartside wielding the axe on the once-revered boss Owen Coyle after the Trotters slipped to 16th place in the league. Recent reports suggest Crystal Palace's Dougie Freedman is set to take Coyle's place, but with four defeats as visitors already this season he will do well to arrest their away form against promotion contenders Middlesbrough, that is if he is appointed in time for the trip to North Yorkshire.

Games between these two teams in recent times tend to be high-scoring, with their last meetings in the 2008/09 Premier League season ending 3-1 and 4-1 in Bolton's favour. Times may have changed for both sides since then, but with Boro also recording 5-1 and 4-3 victories within their last eight clashes, this fixture has a taste for goals. Therefore backing Over 3.5 Goals looks worth a punt at 2.68/5.

Bristol City v Hull, Ashton Gate, Sat 17:20 (Live on Sky Sports 2)

Bristol City will host their second Championship game of the week when they welcome Hull to Ashton Gate for the televised Saturday tea-time kick-off, while the visitors will be away from home for their second time in four days.

The Robins are in poor form at the minute, without a win in five games and they look short of confidence having lost their last two outings. However, Bristol boss Derek McInnes is keeping the faith with his under-performing side having scored an equal second-highest 20 league goals. Young English strikers strikers Sam Baldock and Steven Davies have four strikes each this term, and could help McInnes' side get back on their feet.

Hull owners Assem and Ehab Allam have not always brought stability to the East Yorkshire outfit since their 2010 takeover, with the decision to sack club legend Nick Barmby after his publicly critical comments of the Egyptian father-and-son duo much-maligned. But new boss Steve Bruce has led the Tigers to a spot in the play-off positions this campaign, having just completed back-to-back league victories. A mid-week trip to Middlesbrough followed by a weekend journey to Bristol will put a strain on Bruce's resources, although he can be confident of returning home with at least a point from this game.

Last season this match-up ended 1-1 at Ashton Gate, and with fixtures starting to come thick and fast for Championship sides, a repeat performance wouldn't be a disaster for either side at 6.511/2. Value is found in this prediction as Bristol's last home game ended 1-1, and considering Hull have scored just one goal in three of their last five games.

Recommended Bets

Back Cardiff @ 1.664/6
Back Under 2.5 Goals in Cardiff v Burnley @ 2.15
Back Middlesbrough @ 2.35/4
Back Over 3.5 Goals in Middlesbrough v Bolton @ 2.68/5
Back The Draw in Bristol City v Hull @ 3.259/4
Back 1-1 Correct Score in Bristol City v Hull @ 6.511/2

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