Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire shares his thoughts on his favourite two fancies this weekend with a firm focus on Saturday’s EFL action.
Sky Blues Can Shine In Suffolk
New League One leaders Coventry returned to the top spot for the first time in any division post-Christmas in 53 years, after beating Sunderland 1-0 at St Andrew’s last Sunday. The Sky Blues extended their remarkably consistent campaign with a resolute display against the Black Cats to emulate the legendary side from Jimmy Hill ’s ‘Sky Blue Revolution’ in 1967.
The Midlands club have suffered only three defeats in 33 league fixtures this term and survived a few scares against Sunderland to make it 33 points won from their last 39 available since mid-December (W10-D3-L0). Mark Robins’ men have kept six clean sheets in that 13-game streak, leaking twice or more on only six occasions across the full season.
Cov are underpinned by three outstanding centre-halves in Michael Rose, Kyle McFadzean and Luke Hyam with wing-backs Fankaty Dabo and Sam McCallum providing width in Robins’ 3-4-2-1 system. Liam Walsh and Liam Kelly are valuable in the holding midfield roles whilst Jamie Allen and Callum O’Hare offer support to leading scorer Matty Godden.
It’s a mightily effective unit and Godden’s return to form and fitness has given the Sky Blues the bite and clinical edge in the final-third to turn positive performances into three points on a regular basis.
Coventry have now scored in all bar one of their past 20 League One matches and should fancy their prospects of enhancing that record at Ipswich on Saturday.
Ipswich’s nosedive has been quite spectacular.
The recently-relegated outfit were topping the table with 33 points from their first 15 games before November’s international break, however, Paul Lambert’s troops have since earned just 19 points from their following 20 games – winning only four times – to drop to ninth and seemingly out of the top-six race.
The Tractor Boys’ chief suggested Town’s two home ties this week against Fleetwood and Coventry were “must-win” occasions if the Blues were to force themselves back into the promotion shake-up, although the Suffolk side slumped to a 1-0 reverse at Portman Road on Tuesday night in the first of those two tussles amidst a barrage of abuse and protests.
Ipswich were without Cole Skuse, Emyr Huws and Flynn Downes in midweek – at least one of the three midfield options should return for the weekend’s match-up – but leading scorers Kayden Jackson and James Norwood remain unavailable, hardly ideal with the out-of-form hosts failing to score in five of their past eight league outings.
Lambert’s ailing outfit have been beaten here by Oxford, Peterborough and Fleetwood in three of their last four Portman Road matches and it’s hard to find the faith to support the hosts in their current clime against a Coventry unit that’s suffered just three league losses all season.
Backing the visitors with a +0.25 start at 1.76 is advised.
Robins Too Good For Forest Green
Table-topping Swindon should be backed to produce another strong County Ground display on Saturday when the League Two pacesetters welcome out-of-sorts Forest Green to Wiltshire.
The Robins extended their excellent home efforts on Tuesday evening with a pretty comfortable 2-0 triumph against Scunthorpe, a 13th success here from 18 outings.
More recently, Town have taken top honours in 10 of 12 unbeaten league fixtures in front of their home supporters since September with Ritchie Wellens’ troops uber-consistent when taking on the division’s lesser lights. Across all venues, Swindon have posted an exceptional W16-D2-L2 when faced with clubs in 10th or below.
The Robins top League Two’s Expected Goals (xG) and xG open play ratio rankings with Town’s share increasing from impressive 65% figures close to 70% at the County Ground. Wellens is expecting to have Rob Hunt back in action here and with goal machine Eoin Doyle finding his range once more in midweek, it’s hard to find faults in the league leaders.
With the domineering data Swindon project, the consistently impressive home displays, kind team news, and the fact this side has enjoyed welcome rests in recent weeks due to postponements, suggests they should be fit and ready to fire.
I’m fully expecting the Robins to close much closer to 1.66 and so any quotes about the 1.70 mark should be snapped up.
In the opposition dressing room, the mood has been moody in recent months. Forest Green’s fans have started to turn on manager Mark Cooper after a rotten run of results has seen the Green Devils slide into mid-table obscurity. The Gloucestershire group have won twice in 20 across all competitions and been beaten in nine of their last 16 league games.
Rovers have been hindered by key injury absentees in 2020 but the team appears to have lost its identity under Cooper. The visitors have earned two points from their most recent eight encounters (W0-D2-L6), have taken just five points from a possible 27 against the top-seven (W1-D2-L6) and recorded three clean sheets in 19 since the start of December.
The cash has come for Swindon pretty significantly at the County Ground in recent months and I expect a similar scenario before Saturday with the Robins well capable of justifying the money move with another strong display at their Wiltshire base.
- Coventry +0.25 – 3 units @ 1.76
- Swindon -0.50 – 4 units @ 1.82