EFL pundit Gab Sutton picks his best bets for the weekend’s action.
Burnley to beat Wigan – 1/3
Sitting a whopping 17 points clear in the automatic promotion race with 11 games to go, Burnley will need a maximum of 17 points from their remaining encounters to finish the job.
Realistically, it’s a matter of time for the Clarets to secure their Premier League return, and sow up top spot, with Vincent Kompany’s side sitting 10 clear of second-placed Sheffield United.
The East Lancashire outfit couldn’t quite make their 78% possession pay last time out, held to a goalless draw by Mick McCarthy’s Blackpool, with the likes of Anass Zaroury and Nathan Tella not quite at their usual level in the final third.
It’s just two goals conceded for Burnley, though, in their last seven league games, which is phenomenal when one thinks they’ve suffered from injuries in that time.
Wigan are battling as best they can under Shaun Maloney, but are unlikely to have the quality to trouble their hosts.
West Brom to beat Huddersfield – 2/5
West Brom responded to last Friday’s 2-0 loss at Hull with Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over Wigan, which keeps their Play-Off hopes alive.
The Baggies have struggled without talented goalkeeper Alex Palmer, as well as aerially dominant defender Kyle Bartley, and injuries had threatened to derail their season.
However, Albion had the better of the play on Humberside, even in defeat, and putting John Swift in the number 10 role whilst moving Jed Wallace back wide right has solved a lot of problems for Carlos Corberan’s side.
They can still be vulnerable from crosses into the box, but should have enough quality to dispatch a struggler in Huddersfield, who are six points adrift after a goalless draw with Bristol City.
Peterborough to beat Cheltenham – 11/20
Peterborough showed their depth in the opening day’s reverse fixture.
The Posh were outplayed in the first half at Whaddon Road and found themselves two goals down, but the introduction of Jack Marriott, Joe Ward and Ben Thompson swung the game, with the individual quality of Jonson Clarke-Harris proving decisive.
Darren Ferguson, who replaced Grant McCann as manager in January, will hope not to need his bench in the return fixture, and that if his side do the job, Derby drop points at Oxford.
The attacking quartet of Ward, Poku, Mason-Clark and Clarke-Harris could prove too much for Cheltenham, who are hoping back-to-back clean sheets against Fleetwood and Lincoln prepares them well for bigger tests of their defensive mettle.
The Robins would do well to pass this one, but four points from their last two at Whaddon Road has put them four points clear of the drop zone – so a result on their travels would be a bonus.
Harrogate to win at Crawley – 21/10
Harrogate Town have alleviated any relegation fears thanks to significant defensive improvement.
The Sulphurites aren’t quite as dangerous coming forward since star left-back Jaheim Headley was recalled in January by Huddersfield – and has subsequently played for the Championship side – but their additions at centre-back have made them far more resolute.
Anthony O’Connor and Tom Eastman have given Simon Weaver’s side much-needed EFL experience, but they’ve gelled surprisingly quickly, to think that Toby Sims and Matty Foulds complete a back-four in Tuesday’s 2-0 victory at Doncaster, all of whom weren’t playing for the club in December.
The North Yorkshire outfit have kept four clean sheets in their last nine league games, including the previous two back-to-back, losing just one in seven.
Crawley, by contrast, have taken just one point from the last 24 available to Scott Lindsey’s side, who are languishing in 23rd.
Stevenage to beat Walsall – 3/4
Stevenage have had their worst patch of the season, losing 2-0 at relegation-threatened Rochdale last time out.
For the first time in 2022-23, manager Steve Evans called his players in on a Sunday for a team meeting, which he hopes will spur his side back into life after a run of one win in seven league games.
If Kane Smith and Jake Reeves come back into Evans’ XI, though, it won’t take much for them to click back into gear, because it’s a group of players that have earnt a lot of faith.
And, if Boro are to get back on track, home fixtures with Walsall and Crewe – two sides plateauing towards a lower midtable finish – are highly favourable on paper.
The Saddlers hoped Matty Stevens would be able to replace Danny Johnson, whom they were unable to get back from Mansfield, but the poacher hasn’t played much football after a long-term injury and has struggled to get up to speed – fellow Forest Green recruit Jamille Matt has been rusty too.
Since Johnson and Cambridge wing-back Liam Bennett were recalled from their loan spells, the Saddlers have struggled and are now preparing for the likelihood of another season in League Two.
- Burnley to beat Wigan – 1/3
- West Brom to beat Huddersfield – 2/5
- Peterborough to beat Cheltenham – 11/20
- Harrogate to win at Crawley – 21/10
- Stevenage to beat Walsall – 3/4
£10 bet returns £156.96!