Cardiff have the top-six in their sights but face a tricky trip to Luton on Tuesday night in the Championship. Mark O'Haire previews the Kenilworth Road encounter.
"The draw arguably offers the best value bet considering it’s already landed in 9/27 (33%) of the duos respective home/away league dates"
Luton v Cardiff
Tuesday February 16, 20:15
Luton seal narrow St Andrew's success
Luton boss Nathan Jones believes Saturday's 1-0 success at Birmingham will help take the spotlight off any talk of a relegation battle for the Hatters this season. Dan Potts' goal from Harry Cornick's long throw on 31 minutes saw Town win a fifth away Championship game of the campaign to move equal distance between the play-off positions and bottom three.
Speaking post-match, the delighted Luton supremo said: "Come away from home, clean sheet, three points, 1-0 win, I would have taken that all day long, especially with the importance of the game, as without being coy about stuff, it was an important win. It's nice to get the points on the board as it does give you a little bit of a buffer".
The Hatters were the better team on the day, restricting Birmingham to only four attempts at goal and a solitary shot on-target at St Andrew's. Jones had made just one change for the clash, Glen Rea coming in for Luke Berry, as Ryan Tunnicliffe and Kazenga LuaLua returned from injury to the bench. James Bree is the only absentee for Town on Tuesday night.
Cardiff continue upturn under McCarthy
Cardiff continued their recent revival under new manager Mick McCarthy as Wales striker Kieffer Moore inspired his side to a 3-1 win over Coventry on Saturday. Moore finished superbly to give the Bluebirds the lead on the half-hour mark before tapping home a second after a huge defensive mix-up to put the hosts 2-0 up at the interval in the capital.
Josh Murphy added a third moments into the second half as Coventry were caught out by a quick free-kick routine, although the visitors did manage a consolation later on. Having been 15th when McCarthy arrived in the hot-seat - 13 points adrift of the play-off berths - Cardiff have now moved to within six points of the top-six on the back of a third win on the spin.
McCarthy was forced into two changes against Coventry with midfielder Joe Ralls and forward Sheyi Ojo both absent after collecting midweek injuries. Marlon Pack and Murphy came into the XI and will hope to keep their places here, whilst January signing Jonny Williams could be involved from the bench for the first time as he continues his recovery.
Luton were thrashed 4-0 when the two teams crossed swords at the Cardiff City Stadium in late November, a victory that extended the Bluebirds' unbeaten league streak against the Hatters to six games. Since 2005, Cardiff have claimed W4-D2-L0 in head-to-head meetings with Town, including home and away triumphs over Town in the 2019/20 campaign.
Luton 3.2011/5 were expected to be embroiled in the Championship relegation battle but Nathan Jones has guided the Hatters into the safety of mid-table. The Bedfordshire boys have proven a tough nut to crack, even if the majority of their better results have come against the lesser lights. The hosts have posted W2-D2-L9 against the top-10 this term.
Cardiff 2.486/4 were 15th when Mick McCarthy took charge on 22nd January, 13-points adrift of the play-off berths and looking with concern over their shoulder, but the Bluebirds can now look forward to an unlikely bid to extend their season following a five-match unbeaten run (W3-D2-L0), including seven points from a possible nine on their travels.
Goals have been a relative rarity when Luton have been involved. The Hatters' tightly-knit ship has seen just 1.86 goals per-game on average across the club's 28 league fixtures thus far as 21 (75%) of those tussles paid out for Under 2.5 Goals 1.645/8 backers. Meanwhile, only nine (32%) encounters have seen Both Teams To Score 1.9720/21 backers collect in 2020/21.
Cardiff's contests have provided punters with more goalmouth action. BTTS hunters have been paid out in seven of the Bluebirds' last nine as the capital club have notched themselves in all bar three of their last 16 league outings. City have also been blanked on only three occasions in their 14 road trips, scoring twice or more in six away days.
In a tricky game to second-guess, the draw 3.259/4 arguably offers the best value bet considering it's already landed in 9/27 (33%) of the duo's respective home/away league dates this season.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 98.00 pts
Returned: 104.60 pts