Adrian Clarke returns with another pair of EFL bets kicking off at Priestfield Stadium!
It was a 50% return for me on EFL Insights last weekend with Wayne Rooney’s Derby upsetting the odds big-time with their shock win against high-flying Bournemouth.
Having dusted myself down from that disappointment, it’s time to go again, and I have a pair of strong fancies to send your way, starting down in Kent…
EFL Tips – PORTSMOUTH ARE WELL-PLACED AND WELL-PRICED TO SEE OFF DEPLETED GILLINGHAM
Fans of League 1 outfit Gillingham have heard the phrase ‘down to the bare bones’ plenty in recent weeks and not without justification.
For their 2-0 midweek defeat at home to Cheltenham Town, they were missing eight senior first-team players, including captain Kyle Dempsey and star striker Vadaine Oliver.
The crisis is so bad that manager Steve Evans hasn’t been able to field a full substitutes’ bench for weeks.
He has very little option but to blood untried kids.
Slipping down to 20th place, Gillingham are unsurprisingly winless in their last five games, claiming just one victory in nine. A relegation battle lies ahead.
The visit of in-form Portsmouth this Saturday presents a seriously stiff test for the Gills – and it’s one that I’m not sure they’re in a position to handle right now.
Danny Cowley’s Pompey are flying.
Lincoln City, AFC Wimbledon, Wycombe Wanderers and Bolton Wanderers have all been dispatched across the last four weeks by a south coast side that suddenly look like the promotion-chasers they are supposed to be.
Leicester City loanee George Hirst has knitted things together up front and flanked by Marcus Harness and Ronan Curtis; they form a potent trio of talents.
Quick, skilful, and able to rotate positions seamlessly, Pompey have been busy ripping League 1 defences apart for a number of games.
With his best defenders now fit and available, Portsmouth have solidified at the back too.
If both managers had their full complement of players to pick from this weekend, I’d make Pompey favourites, so all things considered, they are a strong fancy to take all three points.
Low-scoring Gillingham have only netted seven times in front of their own supporters in 2021-22 (the lowest return in the division), and their home matches average a league-low two goals a game.
That makes Portsmouth & Under 3.5 a very appealing proposition here at 2.62, but my selection will be on the safer side.
Pompey are 1.89 on the nose to see off the injury-ravaged hosts, so I will settle for a straight-up away win.
I wouldn’t want to put off anyone that was interested in coupling the goals angle, though.
Steve Evans is a scrapper who knows his way around the block, but without key personnel, it feels a tall order to live with an on-fire Portsmouth. If this is anything other than a fourth successive victory for Cowley’s men, I’ll be surprised.
EFL Tips – POSH v TYKES HAS THE LOOK OF A STALE RELEGATION SIX-POINTER
How often do pivotal encounters between two struggling sides in the relegation zone end up being a thrill-a-minute match of the season contenders?
The answer is not many. Not many at all.
They usually stink the place out, so it is not difficult to foresee a real grind between Peterborough United and Barnsley when they meet this weekend.
In the past, both clubs have been bold, adventurous and free-scoring, but that’s not where they are at, at the moment.
Barnsley, who recently appointed Poya Asbaghi as their new head coach, have been flat in forward areas ever since we began back in August.
Stuck in a seemingly perpetual run of listless attacking displays, the Yorkshiremen have scored more than one goal just THREE times in 19 outings so far.
Failing to score on nine occasions – including in seven of their last 12 fixtures – they are struggling with a capital ‘S’.
On Asbaghi’s managerial debut at home to Swansea City in midweek, a 2-0 loss, they conjured up just three shots on goal. Not the rip-roaring start many had hoped for!
Averaging less than a goal a game this term, Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough United aren’t faring a lot better.
In 12 of 19 games, they also have netted one or less.
Notching just once in their last five matches, the Posh are low on confidence, as well as form.
At half-time in their 4-0 loss at Blackburn Rovers, the manager subbed two of his three central defenders; such was his frustration at their lack of solidity on the road, where they have leaked an eye-watering 28 goals!
In front of their own support, they have only let in 10, though, and with a flea in their ears, I would be shocked if Peterborough United didn’t defend properly in this crucial basement battle.
With so much at stake, a joint-desperation not to lose, and shot-shy attackers, everything points towards a low-scoring affair.
I must say BTTS NO is very appealing at 1.94 (odds that consider their porous defending, no doubt), but it’s a straightforward Under 2.5 shout that tempts me more.
At 1.86 for Under 2.5 goals, I am backing a cagey, scrappy duel.
- Portsmouth to beat Gillingham (1.89)
- Peterborough United v Barnsley Under 2.5 goals (1.86)
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