Robins to be exposed by set-plays once again
Burton Albion v Cheltenham Town
Friday 27th August, kick-off 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Football
One of the biggest surprises of last weekend was Burton’s 3-0 loss at Cambridge, a result the market didn’t predict, nor me as I left the game alone, but the Brewers have been fairly reliable under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and look a half-decent price for Friday’s Sky game against newly promoted Cheltenham.
Reliability and perhaps predictability can be attributed to Burton, as most managers who come up against them find their style hard to deal with. Long balls are effective, and they defend with great organisation in numbers. The tactics worked well in a golden February to March last term – winning eight of their nine games, but I worry long term whether sides will work them out.
However, I’m not too worried about this for Friday as Cheltenham’s Achilles’ heel so far has been their inability to defend set-pieces and in particular corners. That reared its ugly head in Saturday’s loss at Fleetwood and Robins’ boss Michael Duff will be fearful of that strength for Friday’s opponents. Duff got his tactics right against Ipswich in their best display of the season with three at the back and narrow wing-backs, and they haven’t been cut open by any team this term.
In an uncanny twist, the hosts also reserved their best against Ipswich and look the bet for this evening at 2.56/4. Hasselbaink is missing a couple of players in Michael Bostwick and Terry Taylor due to Covid regulations, but he could welcome in Bryn Morris for his first team debut. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson could be utilised in the holding midfield role again that seemed to work to a point against Cambridge. Although it was their inability to deal with the aerial ball in that game that cost them.
The visitors have scored in every game this term and that opens up a punt on the Sportsbook Betbuilder with Burton to win and BTTS ‘Yes’ paying 4.79. Cheltenham have lost four of their last five with Albion and I don’t see that changing.
KEY OPTA STAT: Cheltenham have lost four of their last five league games against Burton since recording a 1-0 victory in November 2012 thanks to a Chris Zebroski goal.
Dons look good value to keep the excitement levels up
According to Opta, MK Dons have won all three of their home league matches against Accrington Stanley, winning in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2020-21, and that’s the starting point for the first bet of Saturday with the hosts priced at 2.35/4.
I’m convinced Liam Manning’s team could be a play-off contender this term with a 3.7511/4 price for a Top Six Finish as they stand as one of the most exciting teams in the division. Manning has his backroom team in place now and as a former Ipswich Town Academy coach, he’ll maintain the footballing philosophy needed at Stadium MK. I remember taking my coaching badges many years ago, and was told an excellent story from one of the leaders of how Ipswich operated.
They decided to ask a forward play as a centre-half against Arsenal, which spooked the attacker as he’d never featured at the back. But, he came up against a highly-rated forward and they wanted their player to learn runs, movement and positioning against someone of real quality. The result didn’t matter (like some clubs at the time), it was all about developing. Manning has that way.
However, he’ll need to cut out the early goal. Under Russell Martin it was a real problem, and under Manning’s watch they have shipped in first in three of their four games – on 15, 16 and 42 minutes. That does offer up the chance to wait for a bigger price in-play though if they concede first.
Manning has a lot of attacking options with Mo Eisa and Troy Parrott already forming a good partnership, and in Scott Twine they have a player with long-range quality. In fact, he’ll shoot from anywhere it seems and he was famed for his prowess with Swindon – scoring one cracker from distance against Ipswich in a live Sky game. Twine has added another aspect to their all-out possession game and I will be staggered if the hosts can’t score here.
Backing them in the Over 2.5 market this term has been successful in each of their four league matches, and it’s a bet that isn’t a bad price this weekend at 1.845/6. The BTTS has also landed in all four and that is a little shorter at 1.645/8. No side has seen more goals in their League One games this term than MK Dons (16 – 8 for and 8 against)a according to Opta, just to back up those bets a little more.
The Sportsbook Betbuilder offers up an excellent 9.21 price on the MK Dons to win and Both Teams To Score In The First Half if you are searching for something more sexier.
KEY OPTA STAT: League meetings between MK Dons and Accrington Stanley have seen, on average, exactly four goals scored per game, with 28 goals scored in just seven meetings (18 MK Dons goals, 10 Accrington).
Wednesday look too good to turn down
Sheffield Wednesday remain unbeaten in their last six league games (W3 D3), winning each of the last three and keeping a clean sheet in the last four – the Owls last kept five consecutive shut outs in April 1992 in the top-flight and can be backed at 2.01/1 to win this weekend.
Their statement win at Rotherham saw them go second favourites in the League One Winner market at 6.611/2 behind Sunderland at 4.67/2.
Rival managers now are starting to take note (if they hadn’t already) of their prowess, mobility on the pitch, and the sheer wage power they have over rivals with what essentially is a Championship standard squad. Moore lured local lad Lee Gregory back to Yorkshire, a player with a fine scoring record at Millwall in the second tier and he added his second of the season at the weekend at the New York. He’s a player that could easily score 25 this season.
Moore got his tactics spot on at the Millers, shutting down the right hand side threat playing with almost two left-backs. His opposite number Paul Warne said what a good team Wednesday are right now.
Morecambe’s only win of the season came against Shrewsbury and are priced up accordingly at 4.47/2 Morecambe have lost back-to-back league games (vs Rotherham and Gillingham), last losing three on the bounce in the EFL in January 2020, which has to be a worry. They have also used 22 players this term – the most in the division, so this looks straightforward for Wednesday and should keep another clean sheet.
KEY OPTA STAT: The only previous meeting between Morecambe and Sheffield Wednesday was in November 2011 in the FA Cup, with the Owls winning 2-1 in the first round.