Scunthorpe and Millwall played out a dull 0-0 in the first-leg of the playoff semi-final, but Alan Dudman is still predicting both can net goals and bookings this Sunday...
"The game earlier in the week produced five bookings, and I would be inclined to take a punt in this often under-used market, especially as the regular season match at Glanford Park yielded seven yellow cards."
Scunthorpe United 2.6813/8 v Millwall 2.789/5, the draw 3.55
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The one scoreline I wasn't expecting from Thursday's semi-final first-leg between these two was the 0-0, which leaves the tie poised beautifully for Sunday's return fixture at Glanford Park. Although such a quick turnaround with the fixtures is all rather puzzling.
Post-match comments from the Iron boss Graham Alexander gave a strong hint as to how they approached that game. He said: "We didn't want to lose."
Scunthorpe defended for their lives, and in a rather drab encounter of very few chances, United mustered their first real attempt at goal on 80 minutes through a long-range Josh Morris effort. Millwall didn't fare much better; and their best chance came from Lee Gregory who spurned a one-on-one opportunity by hitting straight at the goalkeeper. It was quite hard to get excited during the 90 minutes. Defences really dominated.
The resilience of the visitors at The Den surprised me, as they are not a 0-0 team. They had only collected one of those scorelines away from home all season (although that did come at Bradford), so it's unlikely we will see a repeat.
Millwall boss Neil Harris gave the impression after Thursday's match that Scunthorpe will play a bit more football in the return leg this weekend. The stats would certainly point to that; as the Iron scored 46 goals at home during the regular season - and that was more than the champions Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. Only Rochdale score more on their own patch.
Whether we will see a really attack-minded performance from Harris' team remains to be seen. They needed the victory on the final game of the season at Bristol Rovers and won 3-4. They required the win for the playoffs and went for it, will we see that again?
Scunthorpe ran out 3-0 winners at Glanford Park back in December courtesy of two goals from Paddy Madden. For one of the most attacking teams in the division they have six clean sheets from their 23 home matches this term.
Considering a massive wobble which threatened to derail their promotion push, the Iron's home record is fabulous. With 14 wins on home soil, that is the second-most in League One. Sheffield United gained more with 17, but Scunthorpe are at their most potent at home.
Millwall are a vastly different team from home to away. At The Den, the Lions have 12 clean sheets as opposed to just three on the road. The Londoners have shipped 17 at home but 40 on their travels.
Over 2.5 Goals
Prior to Thursday's 0-0 in the first-leg, Scunthorpe had been involved in nine from 11 Over 2.5 Goals affairs, and that included a pair of 3-1 scores. Millwall meanwhile have hit the Over 2.5 line away from home 14 times from 23 matches. These figures are slightly skewed as ten of those came before the turn of the year, and they certainly have been stronger defensively in 2017.
Both teams have quality forwards and attackers. The hosts have 20-goal Morris - although he hasn't scored since February. Paddy Madden (11) and Ivan Toney (13) both started on Thursday, and the latter is an exciting off-the-cuff talent.
Millwall's front-pairing of Steve Morison and Lee Gregory work very well together and have netted 33 between them this term.
The game earlier in the week produced five bookings, and I would be inclined to take a punt in this often under-used market, especially as the regular season match at Glanford Park yielded seven yellow cards. If you are involved in this bet, keep your fingers crossed that Toney starts. The on loan Newcastle man has collected an astonishing 16 bookings this term in 42 games. Discipline is clearly not his strong suit.
Back 45 points and over 0.5pt @ 3.505/2 in the Bookings Odds
Back Both Teams To Score 0.5pt @ 1.9010/11
Alan Dudman's P&L 2016/17
League One: -0.95pts
FA Cup: +8.05pts