Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough
Another key promotion match takes place this weekend when Crystal Palace host Middlesbrough at Selhurst Park.
The Eagles have undoubtedly lost some of their early season momentum under new manager Ian Holloway, currently back in fifth position and four points off Hull City who occupy the second automatic promotion slot. However, Palace ended a run of just one win in nine league games at the beginning of the month with a home victory over Charlton, and followed that up with a valiant comeback away at Watford to earn a draw. The South London outfit are always a stronger bet on their own turf having lost just one home league game, on the opening day of the season. Glenn Murray - the division's top scorer - continues offer a potent threat up front and has a staggering 24 goals in 27 Championship games so far this campaign.
Middlesbrough will hope to have come out the other side of a terrible run of five straight league defeats after their mid-week win over Leeds United, although Tony Mowbray's side are through to the Fifth Round Proper of the FA Cup. Young striker Curtis Main scored and was sent-off in the last 10 minutes against Leeds to earn the club their first points of 2013. But their dreadful Championship form has left them in sixth place - the last play-off spot - and Boro fans will be fearing a repeat of their agonising seventh place finish last campaign. The North-East club have won just one of their last nine away days in all competitions all will be cautious on this trip to the capital.
With Palace having drawn five of their 15 home league games this season and Middlesbrough likely to be more confident after their recent form-busting win, punters may feel safer taking the hosts in the Draw No Bet market at 1.501/2.
Hull v Charlton
Hull City will look to tighten their grip on the second automatic spot in the division when they take on Charlton Athletic at the KC Stadium.
Having spent January win-less from six games in all competitions, Steve Bruce's team have two victories from three in February, as the Tigers bid to return to the Premier League after two years outside the top-flight. Hull have fared quite evenly at home and away this campaign, but their mid-week triumph over Derby was a case of home comforts. A narrow 2-1 winning scoreline was achieved thanks to an 87th minute goal from Ahmed Elmohamady and just two minutes later the points were effectively sealed when the visitors saw Gareth Roberts given a straight red. Another Championship game in East Yorkshire should produce successive wins for the hosts.
Charlton tend to perform well on the road, with their six away victories bettered only by Cardiff, Hull and Watford. But the Addicks - currently sitting 15th - have not won from their last three matches and are not looking on top form. Chris Powell's side have managed a goal a game during their recent run without a win, but seem unable to secure all three points at the moment.
With Charlton not firing on all cylinders, and three of Hull's last four games producing just one goal, supporting Under 2.5 Goals in this game looks a tidy selection at 1.758/11.
Cardiff v Bristol City
Cardiff are beginning to run away at the top of the Championship, and will be in no mood to slip up when they face struggling Bristol City in their lunchtime fixture on Saturday.
One thing that has been reliable during this season in English football's notoriously unpredictable second tier has been the home form of Cardiff City. 12 wins from 14 at the Cardiff City Stadium is a huge part of why Malky Mackay's team are eight points clear of their nearest rivals Hull with a game in hand. The Bluebirds possess players of Premier League class like Craig Bellamy and Peter Whittingham, and after several fruitless promotion challenges look set to go up in style by winning the league. The Welsh club have won 11 of their last 15 matches in the division, and could make their superiority tell against relegation-threatened Bristol City.
The Robins have been in good form recently, with three wins in their last four offering their best spell this season, but that trio of victories all came at Ashton Gate. City haven't recorded a victory from five away days, and haven't even managed a goal in their last three trips on the road. There is still hope for the West Country outfit in their bid to stay up, but any solace is unlikely to be found on their short visit to Wales.
It should be noted that Cardiff's only home defeat in the league this season was a shock loss at the hands of similarly struggling Peterborough, but the hosts will be keen to ensure lightening doesn't strike twice and a Win To Nil against a Bristol City side who have struggled to score away from home recently offers a potential return of 2.608/5.
Back Crystal Palace to win at 2.111/10
Back Crystal Palace in the Draw No Bet market at 1.51/2
Back Hull to win at 1.84/5
Back Under 2.5 Goals in Hull v Charlton at 1.758/11
Back Cardiff to win at 1.51/2
Back Cardiff to Win To Nil at 2.68/5
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