Weekend Play-Off Previews : The Greatest Prize
Event Venue: Various, Friday 11 May to Sunday 13 May. Live on Sky Sports.See Stats
Saturday and Sunday see important play-off games being played as sides battle it out for promotion, Our preview looks ahead to the games being played with four first leg ties and a second-leg tie between Shrewsbury and Charlton Athletic.
Middlesbrough v Aston Villa - Saturday May 12 -5.15pm
A game that should be of interest to England manager Gareth Southgate. Both sides will be desperate to get back into the Premier League and Middlesbrough go into the game with three wins from their last four matches. They finished fifth in the Championship seven points behind their opponents but only have one home defeat in the last nine and that was by champions Wolves. Before this good run began, they lost successive home games to Fulham and Aston Villa, so perhaps when up against the very best in this league they aren't so hot and second placed Cardiff also won here earlier in the season. Away from home they drew 0-0 at Villa but again failed to get wins at any of the sides that finished above them.
Aston Villa have had an up and down season and failed to win either of their last two games drawing with Derby and losing at Millwall. A run of one point from three games in March all but ended their push for automatic promotion and away form has been particularly inconsistent with ten wins but nine costly defeats and they have only won one of the last five. Manager Steve Bruce has had plenty of success in getting sides promoted, this preview believes that Villa can be backed to get a draw here and set up a great second leg.
Get odds of 2/1 on Aston Villa drawing with Middlesbrough with Ladbrokes (18+ Ts & Cs Apply)
Scunthorpe United v Rotherham United - Saturday May 12 - 12.30pm
Scunthope finished a place and five points behind their opponents but won five less league games but lost five less. They host this first leg and have had a strange 2018 to date. The first 16 games of this year saw them win just two out of 16 league games but Scunthorpe go into this game on an unbeaten run of eight league games, though four have ended in draws. Despite their inconsistency they have been in the top five for most of the season but have drawn 17 league games including eight at home.
Two times Rotherham have played Scunthorpe this season and both ended in wins so they won't be afraid of their opponents. Whereas Scunthorpe have drawn plenty of games, Rotherham have only drawn seven a figure only beaten by Portsmouth with six. Like their opponents they have been showing good form of late with only one loss in the last six league games at Plymouth who just missed out on the play-offs finishing in seventh. Away form has seen Rotherham win nine but lose ten with a -2 goal difference and only one win in the last five. A tough game to predict but considering Scunthorpe's record, a bet on a draw could be profitable.
There are some great odds of 11/5 for a draw at the moment with Coral (18+ Ts & Cs Apply)
Shrewsbury Town v Charlton Athletic - Sunday May 13 - 5.15pm
This is where those who don't like the play-offs have a good old moan. Shrewsbury finished 16 points clear of Charlton in the league table but still have to get past them to retain hopes of making it into the second-tier of English football. They are well on their way to confirming their superiority over Charlton having won the first leg of this tie 1-0 on Thursday evening thanks to an 80th minute goal from Jon Nolan. That win ended a run of one win from six games that ended their automatic promotion hopes. At home this season, Shrewsbury have won 14 league games and lost five, however, Charlton may take some encouragement from the fact they won 2-0 at Shrewsbury in mid-April and the fact the home side have only won one of their last four games at the Meadow.
The visitors know they have to score to have any chance of making it to the play-off final. They won nine away league games in the regular season but also lost the same amount. Charlton have won two of their last five away league games, including the win at Shrewsbury but there aren't that many goals being scored with all of those five matches having under 2.5 goals scored in them. Shrewsbury have the one-goal advantage in this tie and don't need to do anything stupid. A bet on under 2.5 goals looks a good one to go for here.
Current odds for under 2.5 goals in the game are 4/7 with Betway (18+ Ts & Cs Apply)
Lincoln City v Exeter City - Saturday May 12 - 3pm
Lincoln City held onto the final play-off place and host Exeter City who finished fourth in the table four points adrift of automatic promotion. The home side only won two of their last six league games but that did include a 4-2 win at Coventry City, who they could meet in the final at Wembley. Home form for Lincoln is their strength with only a loss to Crewe Alexandra in their last 14 league games. They only lost three at home in League Two this season so this won't be an easy game for the visitors.
Exeter City have won nine away league games this season but also lost ten. They have only won one of their last four away league games but did grab a 1-1 draw at champions Accrington Stanley. At the end of March they played Lincoln away and despiite taking an early lead, lost 3-2. Exeter did beat them 1-0 at home early in the season and a repeat of those two results would see them reach Wembley. Exeter spent most of the first half of the season in the promotion places even though they only have a small budget. Lincoln are strong at home and can get the win in this game but Exeter should still have plenty to fight for in the second leg.
You can get odds of 5/6 on Lincoln City to beat Exeter City with William Hill (18+ Ts & Cs Apply)
Coventry City v Notts County - Saturday May 12 - 7.30pm
Coventry City finished in fifth place in League Two, just a place and two points behind their play-off opponents Notts County. Promotion is so important to the Sky Blues as they begin the long road back to the days when they were a top-flight side. Last season they won the EFL Trophy at Wembley and now bid to get back to the national stadium and win promotion. They only lost one of their last five league games but still aren't in the good books of Barnet after failing to beat Morecambe at home in their final league game of the season and relegating the Londoners. Home form has seen Coventry win 13 league games but only one of the last four suffering a 6-2 loss to Yeovil and going down 4-2 to Lincoln City. They beat Notts County 3-0 at home on the opening day of the season but lost 2-1 away in early April.
Notts County managed just a point from their last two league games and lost three of their last four away games including losses against the sides that eventually finished top and bottom of the league, namely Accrington Stanley and Chesterfield. They won seven away league games but lost nine so will be keen to get as good a result as possible here knowing they have the third best home record in the division. There'll be a big crowd attending this game and this preview believes Coventry can win the match.
Get odds of 1/1 on Coventry City beating Notts County with Betfair (18+ Ts & Cs Apply)
- Middlesbrough failed to get any wins against sides that finished in the top four of the Championship.
- Aston Villa have lost nine away league games this season.
- Scunthorpe have drawn 17 league games this season in League One.
- Rotherham have only lost one of their last six games.
- Shrewsbury have only won one of their last four home games.
- Charlton have a recent away win at Shrewsbury
- Coventry City beat Notts County 3-0 at home earlier in the season
- Notts County have lost three of their last four away matches.
- Lincoln City have only lost one of their last 14 home league games.
- Exeter City have only won one of their last four away games.
Today's Main Tip
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