EFL Championship

Sheffield Wednesday v Birmingham: Blues backed to avoid defeat

Tony Mowbray - Birmingham
Birmingham have improved under Tony Mowbray

Sheffield Wednesday welcome Birmingham to Hillsborough for Friday night football from the Championship. Betfair writer Mark O'Haire is backing the Blues to avoid defeat.

Sheffield Wednesday 2.3811/8 manager Danny Rohl says the Owls have to commit every part of themselves to their Championship scrap after exiting the FA Cup in midweek. A blend of youth and fringe experience took a trip to Coventry on Tuesday for an FA Cup fourth round replay and held the Sky Blues level at the break (1-1) before capitulating after the interval.

Three goals in eight minutes ended Wednesday's cup hopes with the 4-1 thrashing coming hot on the heels of a similarly concerning 4-0 stuffing at fellow basement battlers Huddersfield last weekend. However, Rohl was quick to wipe the slate clean as the Owls bid to reduce the eight-point gap to survival when hosting Birmingham on Friday evening.

Rohl said, "At the moment we are making too many basic mistakes. But there are 16 Championship games to go, 48 points to take, and this is now our goal and our challenge. Now it's about not speaking about performing well or trying, it's about results. We need results. From tomorrow, for the next two months, we need 100% to perform."

Birmingham 3.3512/5 boss Tony Mowbray lamented the defending that saw Blues concede a late winner in last weekend's tetchy derby against West Brom. City were in the ascendancy during the second half at The Hawthorns and pushing for a winner when Albion delivered a sucker-punch at the opposite end.

Mowbray said, "Overall, I thought it was a competitive game, I thought we gave a good account of ourselves, and I can't remember our goalie making too many saves. We leave frustrated. We've fallen on the wrong side of a really tight margin. But I've watched their goal back again with the team and there were some poor decisions leading to their goal."

Goalkeeper John Ruddy missed the match and is likely to be absent again on Friday with Neil Etheridge keeping his place between the sticks. Debutant Alex Pritchard only lasted 45 minutes due to a tight calf yet should be fine to feature at Hillsborough and on-loan Cody Drameh may also be available again. Dion Sanderson and Lukas Jutkiewicz are out of action.

Asian Handicap angle appeals

After an initial bounce following Danny Rohl's appointment in mid-October, Sheffield Wednesday have slipped back into the trenches, picking up a solitary point in four league fixtures and failing to score on three occasions (W0-D1-L3). Nevertheless, the Owls have posted a reasonable W4-D2-L3 at Hillsborough under the German coach.

Tony Mowbray only arrived at Birmingham a month ago but has already overseen an encouraging uplift in performance levels (W1-D1-L1). Despite sitting only four points above the drop-zone, the Blues have maintained a solid record against bottom-half opposition this season (W6-D7-L2) and City look underrated by the market ahead of Friday night.

We can back Birmingham 0 & +0.5 Asian Handicap at 1.9310/11, a selection that sees us make money should the visitors avoid defeat at Hillsborough. An away win secures a full pay-out, whilst a draw sees half of our stake returned as a push with the second half returning profit.

Back Birmingham 0 & +0.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.9310/11

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Mark's 2023/24 Profit/Loss

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Returned: 67.64 pts

P/L: +11.64 pts

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