Luton [2.2] v Blackpool [3.7]; the draw [3.7]
League Two play-off semi-final, second leg
Thursday May 18, 19:45
In contrast to the play-offs in other divisions, the League Two ones have thrown up plenty of goals, putting paid to any theories that these matches will be cagey affairs.
There were plenty of chances for Blackpool even a month or so ago when the Hatters beat them 1-0 at Kenilworth Road. However, on that occasion they had Arsenal's Matt Macey on loan in goal, who made several great saves. Stuart Moore has taken over and only kept one clean sheet in seven games, spilling one of Mark Cullen's efforts and conceding in the first leg. One fan's reasoning is to pepper him with shots and let him make mistakes.
One things seems certain: the teams will go for attacking football just as they did in the first leg. There is every chance that Luton can score the goal they need to level the tie, and at [2.14] for the match the price of [5.0] in the promotion market seems a good place to start for a value bet, giving punters a big voucher to trade in the final, providing they reach it of course.
Blackpool, at [3.0] for promotion, are entitled to their backers and will probably go for further attacks, with pace and power on the break. Luton will have to attack, which gives Blackpool a chance to use their counter attacking, through the likes of former Crystal Palace player Neil Danns, on loan from Bury, and even Brad Potts.
Luton have a strong home record, including a +12 goals average over the season, giving them a great chance to overturn their one goal deficit in this tie. Ollie Palmer was their hero in a fortuitous 90th minute 1-0 win over Blackpool.
Don't expect him to score again, or for the tie to end 1-0. To win, the hosts will have to curtail Cullen's instincts to score against his old club - something he described as a highlight of his career. It would be even better if he could hep Blackpool to a fifth successful play-off campaign out of seven in their history.
Gary Bowyer's men have their tails up, but counterpart Jones believes his side were sloppy in defence once they had gone 2-1 up in the first leg on the way to a 3-1 defeat. By all accounts, the two sides had one great half each.
Luton fans seemed to think their midfielders lacked creativity, although Premier League scouts tracking James Justin might disagree. One answer, if that were true, would be to play Danny Hylton in the hole, or deeper, behind two strikers to supply an abundance of striking options, but that would be a waste of his talents these days and not what Luton need.
Isaac Vassell presents plenty of problems with his direct approach and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu will have to be at his best in both boxes if Luton, who have never won a play-off campaign in four attempts, are to progress.
First goalscorer betting didn't go too well in the first leg, but I'm prepared to have another shot - with the twist of scoring any time. According to Opta, Cullen has scored five goals in his last four matches for the Tangerines, while Hylton has scored eight goals in his last 10 games for Luton.
Hylton is pretty much due a goal, but Isaac Vassell should not be ruled out for Luton for first goalscorer at [6.6], because he has scored in the past three games (two of them with Hylton absent). With Jack Marriott likely to be waiting in the wings on the bench again, Hylton might not be the biggest price to score at any time (in 90 minutes) but should reward backers at [2.26].
Over 2.5 goals
With Luton having to attack to play catch up, an open game - again - seems in prospect. Can we expect the frenetic goal carnage from both ties in the first legs? Possibly not, but to actually win through in 90 minutes, Luton would have to score twice. Therefore over [2.5] goals at [1.9] is as guaranteed as the odds suggest, perhaps with Blackpool scoring once to take the tie to extra time.
Both sides have an abundance of scoring talent, from Blackpool's Kyle Vassell, Cullen and Brad Potts to Luton's riches such as Hylton, Isaac Vassell and Marriott, not to forget Ollie Palmer who has three strikes in four starts and 13 substitute appearances, on loan from Leyton Orient. Maybe the sides will run out of legs for over 3.5 goals at [3.3].
Match betting League Two