We welcome back James, a regular contributor over at our friends WeLoveBetting, who has been a valuable member of the team there for a number of years.
Rotherham vs Luton
Both ends of the Championship are catered for in this particular fixture as Rotherham United, looking to avoid relegation, entertains league surprise package Luton Town, who still remain in the hunt for an unexpected automatic promotion place. It is three without defeat for The Millers, whereas The Hatters are nine without loss.
Whilst each side have their own agenda to worry about, three points will be massive either club. Avoiding relegation has been the number one priority for Rotherham since winning promotion last season, and that goal didn’t change when Paul Warne left for Derby County and Matt Taylor was hired in October. Three without losing may not seem like much, but under Taylor their best unbeaten streak is four, so this is decent going for them. Winning three of their last four at home, the most recent against West Brom, proves they can cause problems for the big clubs at the New York Stadium.
Luton may indeed be a shock name to some appearing near the top of the Championship, but let’s not forget they did reach the playoffs last season. Rob Edwards was something of a surprise appointment to the job earlier in the campaign, especially after last managing their arch-rivals Watford, but he has taken to the job like duck to water. Since the start of the year, only already promoted Burnley and West Brom has defeated Luton, and that is why they enter this weekend’s game as odds-on favourites.
I personally never take an away team to win at odds-on in the Championship as it represents no value whatsoever. This will be a tough match for Luton, especially knowing Rotherham has taken points against every top-half team in the league as things stand, including drawing away at Luton in November.
My instant reaction to this game was to examine the corner markets. Rotherham play with out-and-out wingers, whilst Luton play an adventurous wing-back system, so expect both managers to target the wide areas. Games involving these two teams have averaged over ten corners per game this season, so this is an angle we have to attack. A Bet365 bet-builder can be created where a price of 21/20 is offering for Both Teams Over 3 Corners, and this will surely go close.
MK Dons vs Cheltenham
There are plenty of big games in League One across the card this weekend, but I would argue MK Dons versus Cheltenham is right up there in terms of importance. Sure, it may not cover the top of the table where giants such as Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich are fighting to earn a promotion spot, but the relegation zone is a real scrap in this league and it makes for exciting and nervous viewing.
MK Dons have certainly showcased real improvement since Mark Jackson was appointed to the job just after Christmas, or at least eventually. He had only overseen victory in three of his opening 14 matches in charge, but they are now six unbeaten and allowed them to have their own survival destiny in their own hands. The last three have indeed been draws, but when you see they came both away at Derby and Wycombe, and also at home to Portsmouth, you can see those are good results. Confidence is slowly building again and given the options within their squad they shouldn’t really be near the bottom four and they’re now starting to show why.
Cheltenham find themselves in that rather secure but yet awkward position of looking like they should be safe. An eight-point gap to the relegation zone means they should be OK, but things change from week to week for teams that like and it can start to tighten up. In their defence, they’ve only lost once in eight, and they’ve taken points against Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Peterborough within that run. Games are running out, and you can’t hide from the fact this just looks a more important game for MK Dons.
You just don’t know what you are going to get with Cheltenham on the road. They’ve won at Peterborough and Charlton, yet they lost away to Forest Green, Morecambe and Accrington. Still, this should be a tight game, but I give narrow preference to MK Dons given they’re at home and are probably playing their best football since Jackson took charge.
The recommended selection is MK Dons Double Chance and Under 3 Goals at 10/11 on the Bet365 bet-builder. A common theme of MK Dons under Jackson is they’ve mostly been very close matches, with the exception of a few heavy losses. More recently, only one of their previous nine has contained at least three goals. For Cheltenham, six in nine has also failed to reach that number, and only Sheffield Wednesday and Oxford have on average seen fewer goals across away fixtures.
Gillingham vs Stockport
There are also many big matches in League Two as well, and Northampton against Carlisle is a huge top-four battle, but there is one contest which catches my eye from a betting perspective. Gillingham take on Stockport at Priestfield in a game which clearly has more significance for Saturday’s visitors. The Gills should now be safe from the drop, but only goal difference has County in position of third place with just five encounters remaining.
Stockport have gradually built their way into the season after winning promotion out of the National League last season. The Greater Manchester club are as high as they’ve been all season after taking time adjusting to a higher level earlier in the campaign. With Leyton Orient looking secure in top spot, the other two automatic promotion places is realistically being battled between seven clubs, meaning three points for Stockport this weekend would be huge.
That is easier said than done however given they are making the trip to Kent to face a Gillingham side that has an excellent recent home record. Across their last nine at home, they have recorded eight victories and one setback. Some may saw many of those were against bottom-half opposition, but a return like that can’t be understated at this level. On the flip side, Stockport’s previous six away games has returned five wins and one loss. Something has got to give in this one!
The common theme that surrounds these two teams recently comes in the form of a lack of overall goals in their matches. Eight of Gillingham’s past 12 has failed to contain a minimum of three goals, whilst Stockport can say the same about eight of their latest nine contests. Across the whole season, Gillingham has only seen four of their 16 at home beaten the 2.5 goal line, so there is a lot suggesting another tight encounter will materialise here.
Under 3 Goals forms part of our bet-builder, with the second half consisting of Stockport to earn 4+ Corners. This combination is price 10/11 with Bet365. Gillingham will pay big respect to Stockport, who themselves will be aware of the importance of this one and to expect this to be something of a basketball game just is so unlikely. On the corner count, with Stockport really needing the win here, they should be the ones really pushing late on if this tight match is level. Furthermore, they average just over five corners per game.
Rotherham v Luton – Both Teams Over 3 Corners (21/20 Bet365)
MK Dons v Cheltenham – MK Dons Double Chance and Under 3 Goals (10/11 Bet365)
Gillingham v Stockport – Under 3 Goals and Stockport Over 3 Corners (10/11 Bet365)