Football League expert, The Betting Desk, takes a deep-dive into three of this week's matches and provides his best bets from League One and League Two.
Wimbledon vs Morecambe
Goals have to be on the cards when AFC Wimbledon welcome Morecambe on Saturday afternoon to my favorite ground names – Cherry Red Records Stadium, as the battle of the Robinsons commences!
AFC Wimbledon manager, Mark Robinson needs a result here as his side have been beaten by non-league Boreham Wood in the FA Cup then and suffer defeat to the new version of Wimbledon, MK Dons. Robinson was full of praise for this side after the midweek defeat saying his side gave everything and they will bounce back, but they are slipping closer to the relegation spots, sitting just two points ahead of 4th bottom Morecambe.
This is their first home game in the last 49 days, and they will be happy to get back onto familiar surroundings as their home record has been good with W2-D5-L2. The Wombles have failed to score in just two of their home games – Wigan and Plymouth, neither of which would be unexpected given how both teams are performing, but they are also yet to keep a clean sheet with both teams scoring landing in 78%. Attacking wise its impressive. 1.48 xG is the 5th highest in the league and the 1.67 goals scored is the 7th highest, whilst they sit 3rd for shots on target in the box. However, as you would expect from a side that is struggling for clean sheets, they sit 23rd for xGA with 1.4, 22nd for goals conceded with 1.67 per game and 22nd for shots on target in the box conceded. Morecambe will get chances here.
Morecambe, under the leadership of Stephen Robinson, started the season well but they have been fortunate of many occasions and now that variance is equaling out and they are struggling. Its now one win in seven and that was 4-3 over rock bottom Doncaster. Goals have always been on the agenda for Morecambe and their away games have seen an average of 3.82 per match with 82% going over 2.5 goals and 64% over 3.5 goals with 73% seeing both teams finding the net.
On the road the Shrimpers have only failed to score on three occasions – Sunderland, Portsmouth, and Doncaster back in September where they generated 1.02 xG, managing eight shots in the box and then three of these hitting the target. Failing to score at Sunderland and Portsmouth isn’t surprising, so they are finding the net on a regular basis and are averaging 1.36 goals per away game, despite a xG of 0.81. They have failed to keep a clean sheet this season on the road and that is no surprise when you see that their underlying defensive metrics are very poor with all the main ones that I track seeing them sit 22nd which is why they are conceding 2.45 goals per game.
The visitors should come into the game in good confidence. They played well in the FA Cup against Spurs and came back from 3-0 down to win 4-3 in their last league game.
With both sides struggling for clean sheets and having the ability to find the net I have to get behind goals. These two sides have played 46 games between them and kept just six clean sheets whilst they have jointly scored in 70% of their games and when playing against bottom half sides its four clean sheets and four games where they have failed to score from a joint 24 games played.
Over 2.5 goals is best backed at Marathon Bet at 43/50
Bolton vs Ipswich
Ipswich look a different side now that Paul Cook has gone, and Kieran McKenna has arrived. In his short time with club there has been a visible change in playing style and the players are talking about how much they are enjoying the training with short sharp sessions with McKenna getting his message over to the players and importantly the players keen to take his ideas on board. The performance against Gillingham was very impressive with Ipswich creating plenty of chances, the players moving the ball quickly and at times Gillingham struggling to live with them.
Its only two games and whist we need to be careful this isn’t just a new manager bounce, the style of play in his two victories have suggested that there is more to it. The squad that Paul Cook brought in over the summer was one of high quality and many pundits thought they would be in the fight for automatic promotion but Cook never got the side going and looked unable to find his best side or play in a manner that suited the players he had available. McKenna has moved away from the 4-2-3-1 favored by Cook and has set up with 3-4-1-2 but has stressed that he will take each game on its merits and won’t be scared to change things for certain games. However, given how good they were against Gillingham it will be a surprise if they are too much change.
James Norwood is back in the squad after Paul Cook banished him to the U23s and he now have four goals in four games, Macualey Bonne has found the net again after failing to score in eight games, but Ipswich have players such as Scott Fraser, Bersant Celina, Kyle Edwards, Joe Piggott and Conor Chaplin who can’t get a start at the moment. It’s a squad stacked full of quality.
Bolton are struggling after a bright start to the season and have now lost their last four games scoring just once. Whilst their home record isn’t too bad with W4-D3-L3, their result against the top half reads W2-D2-L10.
This is their 2nd game in the last five days, whilst Ipswich have had a week off. Bolton now haven’t won a game since November, so will be keen to follow up their 5-2 win over Ipswich back in September with another three points here. However, the pressure is starting to mount a little on Wanderer’s manager Ian Evatt with a poor run of result and now have one of their best player Elias Kachunga missing. Evatt has brought several players this month and it will be interesting to see who starts on Saturday and if these players have an immediate positive or negative impact on the team.
I want to wait a few more weeks before I start backing Ipswich on the straight win, but I don’t think they will lose at the weekend and I am happy to take then on the double chance, which means that as long as they avoid defeat our bet will win. Ipswich were so impressive against Gillingham and cut through them at will, I want to take them to score as well. Ipswich have goal threats all over the pitch and one of their main attack threats is now back from injury. With a fit Wes Burns, Ipswich have a win rate of 42% and without him it drops to just 25%. The Tractor Boys have only lost twice this season when Burns have played and seven times when he hasn’t. It’s a big swing. His pace is a threat and Ipswich look a different side when he plays.
Across the season Ipswich have won an average of 4.17 corners on the road and given the attacking quality on the pitch, Ipswich should have plenty of opportunities to win corners here. Bolton have conceded an average of 3.55 on average, but I am confident that Ipswich will win at least three corners and therefore we can back Ipswich double chance, Ipswich to score and Ipswich to win at least three corners at 4/5 with Bet365 and that looks a good angle into this game.
Port Vale v Swindon
My last bet is in League Two and I am going to take both teams to score between Port Vale and Swindon which can be backed at 87/100 with Betfair. These two sides have scored 71 goals between them this season and I think there will be more goals on Saturday.
The visitors see an average of 3.08 goals per away match and have only failed to score on one away day this season and that was at Barrow where they lost 2-0. At the other end they have kept just two clean sheets against Forest Green and Salford. FGR generated 2.09 xG and Salford 0.93 xG with 11 shots and five shots on target.
Its no surprise therefore to see that Swindon have had 73% of their away games land both teams to score and their issues can be summed up quite nicely. On the road they generate 1.44 xG which is the 3rd highest in the division, but they also allow 1.39 xGA with only two sides allowing more.
Swindon on the road rank 1st for shots taken, 2nd for shots on target and 5th for shots on target from inside the box, but at the other end its 18th for shots on target conceded and 13th for shots on target in the box. A side like Port Vale will get chances and find the net. Swindon sit 22nd for xGA per shot. Which means that the opportunities they give are generally those with a higher chance of conceding.
Over the last eight games Swindon have seen both teams scoring in seven, with over 2.5 goals landing in five with a total of 28 goals or 3.5 goals per match. Over the last eight games only Oldham have a higher xGA than Swindon, with 1.63 per game.
Harry McKirdy has been a hit at Swindon, but he struggled in his one season with Vale and was released. Since he signed at the County Ground, he has 12 goals and now six goals in his last three games. I am sure he will be looking to get one over his former side.
Given the defensive issues we should be confident that Port Vale will score. Defensively they have been impressive, and their home stats and metrics might give us cause for concern at first glance. They concede just 0.63 xGA and have kept clean sheets in 50% of their home games but eight of their 12 visitors currently sit 12th or below and they have only played one side at home in the current top 8. When facing sides 12th and above they have a record of W4-D2-L3 but have just one clean sheet, a 0-0 with Tranmere back in August. They kept three clean sheets in their opening four home games and now its just two in six and overall, it’s now one clean sheet in their last seven league games.
At home they have found the net regularly scoring in 70% of their home games and now in seven of their last eight home games. Vale will probably start with James Wilson and David Amoo up top, but they have Kian Harratt and Ryan Edmundson the bench eager to get on and take their chance.
Both sides have good attacking options and both sides will be looking for a win. Swindon away games tend to be very open, and I don’t think this will suddenly change now, so we should see a game with lots of chance and we can back both teams to score at 87/100 with Betfair
- Wimbledon vs Morecambe over 2.5 goals at 43/50 with Marathon Bet
- Bolton vs Ipswich – Ipswich double chance, Ipswich to score and Ipswich over 2.5 corners at 4/5 with Bet365
- Port Vale vs Swindon – Both teams to score – 87/100 with Betfair