EFL expert, The Betting Desk, returns with his weekly betting previews and best bets in England’s Football League.
Grimsby vs Mansfield
We successfully backed goals in my last column with Grimsby and I see no reason why we should change. The Mariners are 14th in League Two and following their 2-1 win over Doncaster on Easter Monday are now all but safe with a big cushion of 12 points to the relegation places.
Their games, results and performances have an end-of-season feel to them with the last three games seeing a total of 13 goals and both sides finding the net in their last five. They have had an excellent FA Cup run and with survival now secured they have taken their foot off the gas, and this has resulted in just three wins in their last 12 games with only three clean sheets over this period.
At home they have won just four games this term and only rock-bottom Rochdale have collected fewer home points so the visitors will fancy their chances here, especially given the hosts have only kept six clean sheets at home this season. Their recent three game have seen them beat Doncaster 2-1, but then lose 3-2 to Bradford and 4-1 to Hartlepool.
Over their last four games, only three sides have a higher xGA than Grimsby, but only two sides have had more shots in the box.
Mansfield sit just outside the playoff positions and will see this game as a potential of three points against a side that has nothing to pay for. On the road they have won 10 of their 20 games, losing seven. They have failed to score in just five of their 20 away games, but four of these games were against sides that sit in the top seven in the league table, whilst it’s just six clean sheets.
No side has scored more goals this season than Mansfield and only Salford have scored more goals on their travels. This game is important for the visitors, they sit just one point behind Salford, and they still need to play Orient and Stevenage who are very much in the promotion hunt plus Harrogate and Colchester who require points for survival.
Both sides will look to attack and neither side can be trusted to keep a clean sheet.
- Over 2.5 match goals – 21/20 with Betfair.
Forest Green Rovers vs Barnsley
Forest Green will be relegated this weekend if they lose to high-flying Barnsley. They are cut adrift at the foot of the table with just 26 points scoring just 29 goals whilst conceding 76 goals, the most in the division. Rover's five wins this season have been against Accrington, Cambridge, Cheltenham, Bolton and an excellent three points against Sheff Wednesday. The win over the Owls is their only victory since the 10th of December and they have only avoided defeat in four games since that win over Cheltenham, which means they have lost 16 of their last 20 games.
These last 20 games have seen them fail to score in 50%, concede in 95% and concede two or more in 60%.
At home they have won their five games, keeping just three clean sheets. I have them ranked as the 2nd worst home team in the division with all the usual metrics showing them as a bottom three team. They sit 23rd for home xPTS, xG ratio and shots on target ratio.
Barnsley have closed the gap to the top two and now just six points off the top having played a game less than leaders Sheff Wednesday. The Tykes have the 3rd best away points in the league, collecting 18 points from the last 24 available.
They have lost their last two away games, but losing at Exeter is no embarrassment and they were robbed by one of the worst refereeing decisions of the season at Burton. Barnsley over the last four games have the 2nd best output in the league behind Ipswich, with a xG of 1.79 with only four sides having more shots in the box or fewer shots in the box conceded.
Barnsley should have the ability to win this game comfortably. If they take the lead, then Rovers might give up knowing that their fate is sealed. The straight win is too low to back, so I am happy to take Barnsley on the Asian handicap at -1.
- Barnsley -1AH at 10/11 with Unibet
Exeter vs Plymouth
A massive game down in Devon as the hosts would love nothing more than to upset the Plymouth promotion push. It’s the home form that has kept Plymouth in the promotion places for the majority season as they away record is W8-D7-L5, winning just two away games against sides that sitting 12th or above. If we exclude the bottom four sides, Argyle have kept just three away clean sheets and just six in total.
They sit 15th on away xPTS and then on the road I have them 22nd for xGA, 15th for goals conceded, 23rd for shots on target conceded and 17th for shots in the box. Its poor for a side that could find itself in the Championship next season.
Exeter have had a decent season, losing just five home games and beating Barnsley, Peterborough and Wycombe at home and holding Sheff Wednesday to draw. I have them 8th on home xPTS and 7th on xG ratio. They are a good effective side and will relish the chance to dent their visitors’ aspirations. The hosts are safe in mid-table and for the fans this is the only game keeping their season alive.
The game is sold out and Plymouth manager, Steven Schumacher, has called it the biggest game of the season, whilst Exeter defender, Josh Key has this week said that the team want to stop Plymouth gaining automatic promotion. It should go off big time.
The referee here is Drysdale, who you might remember from a few years ago squaring up to an Ipswich player during a heated debate on the pitch. In League One he has averaged 38.33 booking points from his nine games, giving both sides a card in 78% and 3 or more cards in 78% as well.
Whilst Bet365 will post their odds much later for the game and at the time of writing only Skybet had posted odds for cards. Taking both sides to collect at least a card, 30 or more match booking points and then Exeter to find the net at least once pays 3/4 with Sky and that looks a decent price given the build up to the game.
- Both sides 10+ booking points each, 30+ match booking points & Exeter 1+ goals – 3/4 with Skybet.