Adrian Clarke - Goals At Ewood Park & League Two's Tighest Defences

11 min

A couple of tough results last week for Adrian, but he’s hoping to bounce back with a focus on goals this week. 

After a strong start finding winners hasn’t come so easily in recent weeks, but that is the EFL for you! All three divisions can throw up lots of surprises.

That’s why the majority who follow the EFL find it so absorbing.

Undeterred, we go in search of twin success this weekend with a pair of BTTS angles the centre of attention…

Tipping The Net To Bulge When Rovers Host Reading

Scoring goals has been easier than stopping them for both Blackburn Rovers and Reading this season, so their clash at Ewood Park on Saturday is likely to be goal heavy.

The Royals will be smarting after throwing away a 2-0 lead to somehow lose to Blackpool during the midweek round of fixtures.

On closer inspection, maybe they don’t have too much room for complaint, though, as the Tangerines out-shot them 18-5 on the night.

That has often been the story for Veljko Paunovic’s injury-hit side, who have climbed into the top half of the table despite leaking chances aplenty almost every time they play.

Reading have faced the second-highest number of shots from open play in the Championship, and they aren’t too hot at keeping set pieces out of their own net either.

Only one side has conceded more than their seven concessions from dead-ball situations.

Luckily, they have a lively attack with John Swift, the obvious standout scoring eight goals and providing six assists already this term. Around him, Ovie Ejaria and Watford loanee Tom Dele-Bashiru are also regular danger men behind stand-in striker George Puscas.

Tony Mowbray’s side haven’t won in their last four league games and will be looking to bounce back on Saturday

As for Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn, it’s a not too dissimilar story.

They have scored the same number of goals as leaders Bournemouth (21) – many courtesy of rising star Ben Brereton Diaz – but they have also let in the identical amount of goals as Barnsley (17). The latter are entrenched in the bottom three.

Unsurprisingly that plonks them mid-table!

Blackburn switched from 4-2-3-1 to a 3-5-2 in the last two matches but in truth, it didn’t work at either end of the pitch, so I sense they may revert to a back four this weekend.

Across the opening 13 matches, Rovers have kept two clean sheets, just one less than Reading on three.

In attack both clubs have only failed to score on only two out of 13 occasions, and their respective matches average close to 3 per game.

My selection for this encounter has to be a goals angle. It would be understandable backing Over 2.5 goals at 1.88 with Matchbook, and I wouldn’t try to talk anyone out of doing that.

For me, though, the Both Teams To Score market is just a touch more appealing. It’s a gamble that has landed in 77% of Blackburn games, the highest ratio in the Championship.

Reassuringly, the Royals are used to playing in these kind of matches too, with 62% of their fixtures ending with the two teams registering at least one goal.

So it’s BTTS for me in this one, which is currently available at 1.75.

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League Two’s Tightest Defences Likely To Deliver A Low-Scoring Duel

If you’re a fan of mean-fisted defensive solidity, then you might want to get yourself along to the Wirrall for a slice of Tranmere Rovers versus Northampton Town this weekend.

Micky Mellon’s side were involved in a thrilling 2-2 draw at Harrogate Town in midweek, but that was very much the exception to the norm. This season, a Tranmere Rovers match almost always guarantees very few goals.

Remarkably, Rovers have scored less than a goal a game this term, but they are still just one point off the automatic promotion places. It’s ridiculous!

Conceding just six times, they have proven to be one of the toughest nuts to crack up until this point of the campaign.

It has been a collective effort, and a lot of credit should go to Mellon and his coaching staff, but I would also like to tip my hat to 39-year-old centre back Peter Clarke, who has been outstanding. Despite his veteran status Clarke (no relation) has not missed a minute of League Two action in 2021-22, sticking his fingers up to those that insist you must rest and rotate the old stagers!

Micky Mellon’s side currently sit 5th in the League Two table with the best defensive record, conceding just six goals

The visitors Northampton Town are the next stingiest team in the division.

Under Jon Brady, they have collected seven clean sheets in 13 outings, leaking just 11 since it all began back in August. Considering four of their first-choice back five (including the keeper) are new signings, they have gelled astonishingly well.

Both these teams are in the playoff mix right now, but they are not exactly free-scoring.

The Cobblers are strong from set-pieces, scoring from a league-high nine so far, with just six of their goals stemming from open play.

They set up to be hard to break down and play the percentages inside the opposition half to pinch points in close matches.

The stats point us in one direction. Just 15% of Tranmere matches have witnessed more than two goals (2/13), and for Northampton, it’s four from 13 (31%).

For this reason, you won’t get long odds on Under 2.5 goals, but the Asian Handicap line does make Under 2.0/2.5 backable at 1.79.

Considering BTTS NO has landed in 20 of 26 combined matches involving these two clubs, that is also very much an appealing punt at 1.83

Nothing is ever guaranteed in football, especially in the crazy world of the EFL, but this contest does have the distinct whiff of a low-scoring affair.

It’s a pick’em choice this one, but I’ll select the more attractive price of 1.83 on BTTS NO.

Recommended Bets

  • Blackburn Rovers v Reading BTTS (1.75)
  • Tranmere v Northampton BTTS NO (1.83)

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