Friday night's live TV encounter between free-scoring Rotherham United and Bradford City should provide plenty of goals at the New York Stadium, as Alan Dudman previews the best of the League One action...
"We know 'goals scored' do not give Steve Evans sleepless nights. His attack-minded team surprisingly failed to find the net on Tuesday against Sheffield United." Back over 2.5 goals @ 1.804/5
Friday, kick-off 19:52, live on Sky Sports 2
A rare outing at the New York Stadium this Friday night for the live Sky TV game, but a good one, as Rotherham are the league's top scorers, and currently sit third in the table. Under the guidance of manager Steve Evans, the Millers have 78 points and are guaranteed a place in the play-offs, although Evans recently suggested they needed 'snookers' to gain automatic.
So with betting for the future play-offs in mind over the two legs, this is a must see encounter.
Bradford are still not mathematically safe with 49 points, but it's been a disappointing season at Valley Parade, and boss Phil Parkinson faces the problematic situation of large numbers of his squad out of contract in the summer. Several loan additions have come into the club, but they have been too inconsistent to muster any sort of challenge.
City's front two now consists of journeyman forward Jon Stead, and Aaron McLean from Hull City. Both should net bundles of goals at this level, but they've been hastily put together due to the injury to James Hanson.
Hanson was the focal point for Bradford - who were always quite direct with him in the side. McLean and Stead are different and would certainly prefer the ball to feet. Plus they need to address the problem of goals scored, as Opta stats reveal that the Bantams have failed to find the net in their last three games at Rotherham.
We know 'goals scored' do not give Steve Evans sleepless nights. His attack-minded team surprisingly failed to find the net on Tuesday against Sheffield United (losing 1-0 in the last minute), and that was their first blank in the league since November. The Blades defeat ended Rotherham's 16 match unbeaten run, and the game was a complete non-event.
Opta stats are very much with the hosts here, winning their last five matches with Bradford. Whilst Parkinson's side have lost four of their last seven on the road.
There is not much juice in Rotherham's price at 1.674/6, one such angle could be to back them in-running, as Opta stats show they have picked up 22 points from losing positions - a league high. Slightly more appealing however is the over 2.5 goals price at around 1.84/5.
Back over 2.5 goals @ 1.84/5
Asking to pick the winner out of these two teams is like asking me to choose which TV offering I should watch - Mark Wright's 'Party All Around The World' or 'Educating (Joey) Essex'.
The Borough are without a win in seven, whilst Col U have lost four in the spin and have been sucked into the relegation battle. U's boss Joe Dunne admitted this week he has been under pressure for two years, but has admitted their remaining five games will be more mental than physical.
If it is a mental test, I favour Graham Westley. He has already mentioned this as their 'biggest game for two years'. Stevenage are not attractive to watch (much like those two TV shows), and Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury was a feast of long-ball action. GW called that loss a psychological blow, but they just didn't impose themselves.
I fear for Stevenage down the left-hand side, and that needs to be addressed this weekend. Borough were torn apart last Saturday, and the situation wasn't addressed.
Colchester's form has nose-dived. And as Opta point out, only Crawley with six defeats are currently in the longest losing run.
The Essex side make too many errors and are always chasing a game. They tend to give a team a start, and from their last nine matches - they have conceded in the first-half in eight of them. Colchester can't score away from home either, with just a paltry three from seven.
The under 2.5 goals looks the most sensible considering the lack of prowess from the away side. If we throw in Stevenage's poor return of four in seven, this should definitely throw up a Cash Out play on the 0-0 correct scoreline. And remember, the Hertfordshire club have drawn five games since March, which gives another trading angle.
Under 2.5 goals @ 1.910/11
Swindon Town 3.65 v Brentford 2.226/5, the draw 3.65
Swindon were dead and buried in the hunt for a play-off place a month ago, but an unlikely run of three successive victories has given them an outside chance of making it still - although they trade at 9.28/1 for a top six finish. Brentford meanwhile have all but confirmed their automatic promotion spot with Tuesday night's 1-0 victory against Crawley. They can still pip Wolves to the title, and are available to back at 5.04/1, compared to Wolves at 1.251/4.
Worryingly however for the Bees, is that they have failed to find the net in each of their last three away league games. Although perhaps not that worrying considering they are second! Their return of 87 points is astonishing, and they have been one of the strongest teams this campaign.
The Tuesday win was a rock-solid performance, but somewhat scrappy. Crawley boss John Gregory said how hard they were to play against. Their under 2.5 goals backers have been in a good run recently away from home - with four of their last five matches all coming in - including three 0-0 draws.
So with a potential dart at 0-0, Swindon are perhaps the perfect team for that bet. I doubt there will be goals here, as the Robins have loads of possession and can never kill off teams - highlighted again on Saturday with the 1-0 loss at Carlisle. Town boss Mark Cooper called the team 'perfect everywhere, apart from a threat on goal.'
Now it's unlikely the hosts will enjoy so much possession against such quality opponents, but they cannot finish a side off. I probably don't want Alex Pritchard to start here, as the on-loan Tottenham man is a big danger from set-pieces, in fact Opta stats highlight Town's prowess in this area, 'with four direct free-kicks scored in League One - the most in the division.
Swindon do have more pace in the side, but I worry about the hold-up play from forward Alex Smith - he needs to do better in the 'two'. Meanwhile goalkeeper Wes Foderingham is one of the best shot-stoppers in the league, and he is sure to be tested by Brentford.
Back under 2.5 goals @ 1.9010/11
League One 2013/14 P/L (all selections one point)
- 8.22 pts