Fresh from a profitable Easter that saw all four of my EFL picks land via this column and the podcast I’m hungry to accumulate more winners this weekend! I hope you’re with me. Here are two more selections, starting in the Championship…
Starting To Believe In Bowyer’s Blues
There was only one place Birmingham City were heading under a befuddled Aitor Karanka last month and that was League 1.
With six defeats from their last nine matches and confidence almost entirely evaporated plenty thought Lee Bowyer was mad to swap promotion-chasing Charlton Athletic for the beleaguered Blues.
That was even before they’d noticed they were set to face four of the top six in his opening quartet of fixtures.
Seven points later, with a pair of morale-boosting clean sheets against Brentford and Swansea City in the bag, Brummie fans are no longer frightened to look at the Championship table.
Birmingham City are still hovering precariously in 21st place but a series of well-organised, spirited displays under the new boss have given the club hope of survival.
The fear of what’s behind them has been replaced by excitement at the prospect of overtaking those who are just ahead. This means confidence and motivation will be sky high when Stoke City arrive at St Andrews this weekend.
The Potters have nothing but pride to play for.
Mid-table is where they’re at and it’s unlikely to change in the space of the final six games.
Prior to their recent 2-0 win at Bristol City (everyone wins there btw!) Michael O’Neill’s men were struggling on the road, going 11 away matches without a victory.
Scoring has been their primary issue, drawing blanks in 9 of their away 20 matches – and they will encounter a very resolute Blues side on Saturday.
Bowyer is tactically astute and in a 3-4-1-2 shape, I can see them holding Stoke City at bay, especially with so much riding on the result.
Strikers Scott Hogan and Lukas Jutkiewicz haven’t been in prolific form but they do have strong Championship records and are good enough to test the visitors’ who will match them up in the same formation.
It will not be a pretty contest and with the Goals Line drawn at 2 (Under 2.0 is 1.87), no one is expecting a goal-fest.
Bowyer’s motivational skills and sound football brain tip this match in Birmingham City’s favour in my opinion.
You can back the Blues who are underdogs at 3.1 but my preferred choice is to select Birmingham City at +0.00 on the Asian Handicap, getting our money back if the points are shared.
It’s a 2.1 shot that I am willing to take.
Momentum is building under Bowyer.
Backing The Bantams To Win A Biggie At Valley Parade
It’s crunch time right across the EFL with every point mattering greatly at the moment; none more so than when play-off chasing Bradford City host bottom side Grimsby Town this Saturday.
To their credit the Mariners have restored pride in recent weeks, going eight matches unbeaten. Frustratingly, seven of those games have been drawn affairs.
Under Paul Hurst they are getting better, but time is running out for Grimsby who continue to struggle keeping clean sheets.
In 19 away games they have stopped the opposition from scoring just three times.
It is a tall order to expect them to shut Bradford City out.
The Bantams battered a strong Forest Green Rovers 4-1 in their last home run out and because they are just five points off the playoffs, their joint management team is promising fans they will go all out to win every match left to play.
It helps that Andy Cook, brought in from Mansfield Town in January, is also in fabulous form. He has scored seven goals in 10 starts.
Behind him, Clayton Donaldson is starting to hit some form in a No.10 role too, and they also have renowned lower league goal muncher Danny Rowe to come off the bench when needed.
In short Bradford City have an awful lot of League 2 firepower, and I believe that could be too much for a tense Grimsby to handle.
Yes Grimsby are fighting for their lives, and this can help to provide shock results, but pound for pound Bradford are a considerably stronger outfit. Unbeaten since December 5 at their impressive Valley Parade ground (a run that features six wins and three draws) I do see the hosts extending that sequence to ten.
Bradford City are being offered at a price that appeals too.
I will be taking them at 2.03 to beat a Grimsby Town side that’s propping up the rest of the division.
- Birmingham City +0.00 v Stoke City 2.1
- Bradford to beat Grimsby Town 2.03
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