Alan Dudman's good form continued in midweek with another three winners, including two draw bets. He looks ahead to this Saturday's action, and thinks it's worth backing the draw between Portsmouth and Sunderland...
"This could be tight, especially with Sunderland's defensive strength at the moment and knack of a shutout."
Hard to split pair at Fratton, so back the stalemate
Portsmouth v Sunderland
The two giants are fully awake in League One now. Portsmouth recently reached their highest league position of the season in sixth, whilst Sunderland, the epitome of the sleeping giant at this level, moved into fifth with a 1-0 win at Tranmere on Wednesday.
Both are on the up. The duo are also priced-up identically at 7.413/2 in the Winner market for the title.
This weekend's match-up might not be a classic, which is perhaps why the Draw is trading a little shorter than the norm at around the 3.259/4 mark.
Let's deal with Sunderland first, who last suffered a league defeat back on the 7th December. Sometimes it hasn't been particularly pretty, but the division dictates that, and manager Phil Parkinson (pictured below) seems to have settled on a style. The press is high, and so are some of the balls into Charlie Wyke - but it's working. Their victory at Prenton Park was far from a classic, but it was their fourth clean sheet on the spin and they always look a threat from set-pieces.
Portsmouth have a touch more quality with the likes of Ronan Curtis and John Marquis, but they aren't really pulverising opponents. However, manager Kenny Jackett has a strong-looking squad these days with plenty of players failing to get a look-in. They've won their last seven in all competitions and still remain unbeaten at Fratton Park this season - the only team in the division yet to taste defeat.
The fact Pompey have drawn five of those 13 leads me to the Draw price at 3.259/4, as the hosts to win looks slightly unappealing at 2.26/5. This could be tight, especially with Sunderland's defensive strength at the moment and knack of a shutout. We've had a lot of success lately backing the draw, and I am happy to go again with this one. The Under 2.5 was very short on Thursday night at 1.664/6.
With Gas struggling for goals, Coventry can keep unbeaten record going
Bristol Rovers v Coventry City
It finally happened. Bristol Rovers scored a goal after 558 minutes.
This monumental event took place on Tuesday with the 1-1 at Bolton, and it was a good result for the column as I highlighted the draw as the bet between the two. Whilst manager Ben Garner was upbeat with some much-improved attacking intent, the stats are still looking bleak.
Rovers are winless in 2020 and have failed to score in six of their last eight matches. Even the 4.10 on offer for a home win does nothing for me.
Coventry are a far superior side, although this is hardly the most earth shattering and revealing of statements from me given their league positions, but I like the way the Sky Blues play. At their best; they are a free-flowing side that attack well and usually score a few.
However, the weather put paid to any of those qualities in a dreadful Tuesday night 0-0 up at Fleetwood. I sensed manager Mark Robins was relieved to get home that night, as by all accounts the conditions were awful, which effectively ruined the game. There were barely any chances at all, and that is most unlike Coventry.
Whilst City have drawn a lot of games on the road (eight) with just three wins, their attacking play will pose plenty of threats to the hosts. Robins might be tempted to start Aston Villa loanee Callum O'Hare. His introduction on Tuesday night livened up City as an attacking force.
We are getting around 2.01/1 for the away win, and that's just about acceptable.
Can we trust Posh on their travels?
Ipswich Town v Peterborough United
It's a super weekend for League One in terms of big matches. We've got the Portsmouth v Sunderland encounter, but the Portman Road game looks every bit as exciting on paper. And Posh have hit form.....again.
Indeed, Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson has described his team's next two games at Ipswich and against Oxford as potentially season-defining. Although in this division, expect the unexpected. Posh were second before Christmas, and quickly dropped down to tenth. But they've rallied with three wins on the spin to go back to fourth. It's why you should never be put off by a price in the third tier, sides go on bad runs and then bounce back.
How else can you explain Peterborough's form of LLLLD then WWW?
Ferguson was very complimentary about his team's professional display at Accrington on Tuesday. A super 0-2 win had the hallmarks of a proper United performance - good in attack and quite stylish at the back. Frankie Kent the young centre-back had a good game by all accounts, whilst Sammie Szmodics has settled into the Marcus Maddison role perfectly. And with the transfer window closing, we could be about to bring to an end the Maddison era at the ABAX.
Star striker Ivan Toney has also been linked with a big money move away - so watch out for any transfer deadline day news late on Friday evening.
Ipswich dropped out of the automatic promotion places in midweek, and they were given a real working-over from a physical Rotherham side. Manager Paul Lambert offered no real excuse, it simply was a case that they couldn't handle the strength and the high balls of their opponents. Perhaps it was slightly worrying that they didn't create too many clear-cut chances.
For that reason, I am going to take a chance on Posh here at the bigger price. Town can sometimes be a little overrated with their price, and it's not often you can back Peterborough when they've hit top stride at above 2/1. I am aware that their league form on the road isn't as hot, but Ferguson has got the formation right at the moment with the back three, and they look worth taking a punt on for Saturday.
Alan Dudman's P&L (inclusive ante-post, playoffs and regular season)
*All bets to a 0.5pt stake unless stated otherwise
Back The Draw @ 3.259/4 Portsmouth v Sunderland
Back Coventry @ 2.01/1 to beat Bristol Rovers
Back Peterborough to beat Ipswich @ 3.1511/5