Mark O'Haire - Back Barrow & Underrated Valencia

7 min

Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire returns to share his favourite fancies from the weekend with a pair of plays proposed from the EFL and La Liga.


Barrow begin the Easter weekend nestled inside League Two’s top-seven. The Cumbrian side are punching well beyond their budgetary restrictions with head coach Pete Wild continuing to enhance his burgeoning reputation; the Bluebirds command plenty of respect at their Holker Street home with the hosts a little too big to ignore here at 1.95.

Offered at the same price as Manchester City against Arsenal on Sunday, Barrow to beat Grimsby appears a no-brainer alternative considering Wild’s outfit have posted W10-D7-L2 in front of their own supporters, including W9-D5-L1 when welcoming teams currently below them in the fourth-tier standings.

My ratings rank Barrow third on home Expected Points (xP) and Expected Goals (xG) ratio, with the Bluebirds arriving at the weekend unbeaten in five (W3-D2-L0), conceding just once in that same five-game sample. Since the start of February, the Cumbrians have claimed W4-D1-L0 at Holker Street, recording four clean sheets in that same sample.

Barrow are super tight, and super tough to usurp on home soil. The hosts boast comfortably the best home defence in the division – shipping just 13 goals in 19 outings – and should therefore possess the ability to overcome a Grimsby side that sits just six points above the dreaded drop-zone having won once away from home all season.

The visitors have taken a solitary point away from the top-six thus far, and I’ve Grimsby ranked inside the bottom-half across the board when viewing performance data on their travels. Just two teams have collected fewer away points than the Mariners and I’m therefore happy to oppose the guests with Barrow available at close to even-money.

  • Barrow to win in Barrow vs Grimsby – 1 unit @ 1.95


Valencia endured a forgettable 2022/23 with Los Che teetering on the brink of relegation for the majority of the campaign. Los Che only avoided a first relegation in 35 years on the final day and their summer business suggested another season of struggle was on the way – the club had lost their four top scorers and were shopping in the bargain bin for replacements.

Ruben Baraja – Valencia’s former midfielder – managed to guide the group to safety 12 months ago and has continued the upward trajectory this term by believing in the collective and giving youth a chance. Los Che may not be particularly exciting, but this side is effective, functional rather than flashy, and is making incremental movements in the right direction.

Beyond all pre-season expectations, Valencia start the weekend only six points off the European qualification places with a game in-hand. Their promising season has been built upon a rock-solid record at Mestalla (W8-D4-L2) where none of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic nor Atletico Madrid have managed to beat Baraja’s boys in 2023/24.

Valencia have picked up six victories from nine here when hosting teams below them, whilst only Real Madrid can better Los Che’s exceptional defensive record in front of their own supporters – the hosts have conceded just eight home goals in La Liga with eight of their 14 opponents here failing to score this season.

It’s therefore surprising to see Valencia offered at reasonable odds-against offerings against poor travelers Mallorca. It means we can support the home side with a -0.25 start on the handicap line at a palatable price, giving punters a degree of insurance against the draw on Saturday afternoon. That’s a pleasant position to be in considering Mallorca’s travails.

Mallorca have won once away in 14 this season, netting just 11 goals on the road. The islanders have been beaten in all seven trips to the top-eight, firing blanks in six of those showdowns, whilst Javier Aguirre’s basement battlers have returned a solitary success home-or-away against teams in the top-11 thus far. They’re easily opposed at the prices.

  • Valencia -0.0/0.5 Handicap in Valencia vs Mallorca – 1 unit @ 1.81

Recommended Bets

  • Barrow to win in Barrow vs Grimsby – 1 unit @ 1.95
  • Valencia -0.0/0.5 Handicap in Valencia vs Mallorca – 1 unit @ 1.81

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