Both Barnsley and Preston could be excused for having a 2015/16 campaign in the Sky Bet Championship on their minds and this promises to be an intriguing clash as the hosts look to stay in the top six and the visitors eye automatic promotion. Preston, unbeaten since eventually succumbing to Manchester United in the FA Cup, are favourites at 19/20 to pick up all three points and can be backed at 9/4 to win to nil – a feat they’ve managed in their last three away league games. Barnsley are 11/4 to pull off an upset but Tykes fans will take heart from five wins and a draw from their last six outings, a record which matches Preston’s current run. Barnsley haven’t drawn a blank at home in League 1 since the end of September and look sure to pose Preston problems, so it’s no surprise to see both teams to score priced at 5/6.
Top tip: Barnsley to win in the ‘draw no bet’ market at 7/4.
Bradford City v Fleetwood Town
Bradford are having another interesting season but, money-spinning FA Cup heroics aside, they have only won one in their last six Sky Bet League 1 games and are unlikely to make much appeal to the neutral punter at 4/5 when they play host to Fleetwood on Saturday. Their home form has not been very reliable on the whole but the Bantams did beat Crawley 1-0 in their last league home game at the start of the month, since when they’ve not tasted success. Fleetwood are 7/2 to come away from the Coral Windows Stadium with all three points as they look to make a late push for one of the play-off places. Town suffered a 2-0 defeat at home to Coventry in midweek and will be keen to bounce straight back.. The visitors’ Josh Morris has found his range in recent weeks and he looks a big price at 4/1 to find the net any time in this match.
Top tip: Josh Morris to score any time at 4/1.
Coventry City v Doncaster Rovers
The Sky Bet League 1 sponsors can’t split Coventry and Doncaster ahead of Saturday’s clash, offering 13/8 about the pair and 9/4 against the draw. Purely on form, the Sky Blues look the team to side with as they’ve won three of their last six and come into this seeking a hat-trick of victories having seen off Chesterfield and Fleetwood in the past week, both wins coming away from home.
Returning to the Ricoh Arena, where Tony Mowbray’s men have only lost five all season, gives them strong claims but there’s no doubt they’ve drawn too many games and that’s why they sit just three points clear of the drop zone. Doncaster, on the other hand, still have half an eye on the play-offs and are more than capable, yet seem to have gone off the boil again. A tough one to call.
Top tip: Coventry/Draw in the ‘Double Chance’ market at 4/9.
Crawley Town v Leyton Orient
This is a major clash near the foot of the Sky Bet Football League and hosts Crawley, who have a point in hand over Saturday’s rivals Leyton Orient having played a game more, are 13/5 to claim victory. Sky Bet make Orient 21/20 favourites at Broadfield Stadium, with the draw chalked up at 23/10. The away side have shown signs of getting it together under Fabio Liverani, without becoming a model of consistency, and their away form all season has been a blessing. Crawley have been vulnerable in front of their own fans, too, which helps shed some light on the price discrepancy, but they did win 5-1 at home against Barnsley last month. It’s a very tricky game to call but punters looking for an angle may find backing Izale McLeod to make an impact pays off. The Crawley penalty-taker has 15 league goals to his name already and looks a fair bet at even-money to add to his tally having found the net in both of his side’s last two matches.
Top tip: Izale McLeod to score at any time at even-money.
Crewe Alexandra v Oldham Athletic
Two of League 1’s out-of-form sides meet at Gresty Road with hosts Crewe available at 9/5 with Sky Bet to get the better of Oldham (7/5). The Latics have lost five of their last six games and were soundly beaten at home by MK Dons on Tuesday night, while Crewe were thumped 3-0 at Bristol City. Oldham do have a six-point cushion on the relegation places and are longshots at 22/1 to go down, with Alexandra - odds-on at 10/11 to be playing in League 2 next term - currently sitting 20th in the table and looking over their shoulders. With so much at stake, it’s hard to envisage anything other than a tight and cagey affair and both under 2.5 goals at 8/11 and the draw at 12/5 both merit serious consideration.
Top tip: Back the draw at 12/5.
Gillingham v Colchester United
Gillingham are the 5/4 favourites for this one with Sky Bet but they will have to bounce back from a midweek reverse which saw them lose 3-0 at Chesterfield having gone 2-0 down inside 12 minutes. They sit seven points above the drop zone but seven points from the play-offs so this could be a pivotal clash for the Kent side in terms of how the rest of the season plays out. They are 10 points above their rivals, who sit second-bottom, and can be backed at 23/10 with the draw a 12/5 chance. Their mood will have improved after a 2-0 win over basement dwellers Yeovil in midweek where Jacob Murphy impressed – he is 6/1 to open the scoring here with Cody McDonald 5/1 to do likewise for the hosts. This looks evenly matched all things considered and a stalemate could be the eventual outcome.
Top tip: Back the draw at 12/5.
MK Dons v Notts County
The MK Dons are the hottest favourites on the Sky Bet League 1 coupon this weekend and are 4/9 with the sponsors for three points. A stylish 3-1 win at Oldham in midweek kept them in the hunt for an automatic promotion spot and the pressure will be on to secure three more points against a team teetering on the relegation places. The visitors are winless in three and on offer this weekend at 11/2 but manager Shaun Derry has 10 matches to salvage a season where a lack of goals has been an issue. The draw can be backed at 7/2 but another Dean Bowditch goal for the MK Dons at 7/4 could be the route to take after he hit the target in midweek.
Top tip: Back Dean Bowditch to score anytime at 7/4.
Peterborough United v Chesterfield
The Posh’s four-match winning streak was ended at Preston in midweek but they are narrow 7/5 favourites with Sky Bet to regain the successful thread back at home. Their rivals are one place and two points below them in the league and trade at 9/5 for victory with the draw a 12/5 chance. The visitors have hit a bit of form lately with three wins from four games while Sam Clucas found the net twice in midweek in a 3-0 triumph against Gillingham - he is 13/2 to open the scoring and 2/1 in the anytime market. It may well pay to not look to far beyond the obvious with a pair of evenly matched outfits – take the draw at 12/5.
Top tip: Back the draw at 12/5.
Rochdale v Scunthorpe United
It is three wins from four outings for the hosts and they are odds-on at 19/20 with Sky Bet as a result to beat Scunthorpe. Keith Hill’s side sit in 10th place in the table and just four points from the play-off places so have plenty still on their agenda until the end of the campaign. A couple of games in hand could see them strengthen that chase for the top six with the visitors 13/5 to upset the applecart. They are in need of points themselves as they are three points from safety currently and without a victory in six games. The draw is 13/5 but the best bet looks to be backing both teams to score here at 8/11 with a lot at stake as we move into the closing stages of the season.
Top tip: Back both teams to score at 8/11.
Sheffield United v Port Vale
The Blades are well fancied for this one at Bramall Lane and have been priced up by Sky Bet at 4/7. However, having enjoyed some positive results in February, the change of month has seen them falter a little with two defeats and two draws as they try and remain in the play-off hunt. They have the top six in the betting in the first goalscorer market here - headed by Matt Done at 6/1 – against a mid-table Vale side who are 9/2 to claim all three points. Vale were sunk at home 3-2 by Crawley in midweek and that is three defeats out of four recently but they may have enough about them to land a value 3/1 punt on the stalemate.
Top tip: Back the draw at 3/1.
Sky Bet are the Title Sponsor of The Football League. This season, a £250,000 Sky Bet Transfer Fund will go to a Football League club to spend on players in the summer transfer window.
Fans who bet with Sky Bet generate Transfer Fund Tokens and go into a random draw to win a £5,000 prize – and the £250,000 Sky Bet Transfer Fund for their Football League club.
To sign up, go to www.skybet.com/transferfund and select the Football League team you support.