EFL pundit Gab Sutton picks his best bets for the weekend’s action
Millwall to beat Huddersfield – 8/15
Back-to-back wins over Reading and Swansea puts Millwall in a great position to wrap up a Play-Off berth.
The Lions are sixth, and four points clear of the teams above them, as PPG projections suggest another 10 points from their remaining nine league games will give the Londoners their first Championship Play-Off spot since 2001-02, when they lost to Stern John’s last minute winner for Birmingham in the Semi-Final.
Gary Rowett has done a fabulous job at the Den and, as well as continuing the sturdy defensive foundations in South Bermondsey, with a solid back-four of Dan McNamara, Charlie Cresswell, Jake Cooper and Murray Wallace, they have quality in attack.
Some of the concerns before the campaign lay over how ‘Wall would replace key man Jed Wallace, one of the second-tier’s most consistent players over the last five years, now at West Brom.
The club has recruited superbly, though, with Fortuna Sittard recruit Zian Flemming bringing a sprinkling of genius to SE16, but also having the edge that any player needs to successfully don this shade of blue.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, are hoping wily veteran Neil Warnock can keep them up in the Championship legend’s last hurrah before retirement, but it’s one win in 13 for the Terriers, who languish in 23rd.
Ipswich to beat Shrewsbury – 2/5
After Valentine’s Day’s goalless draw at Bristol Rovers, Ipswich found themselves 10 points shy of automatic promotion rivals Plymouth Argyle, and eight points off the top two, with Sheffield Wednesday having a game in hand.
At that point, and perhaps various stages before, Town fans had written off their teams chances of bypassing the Play-Offs, and some even wondered if they’d make a top six berth.
What followed was an astonishing five-game winning streak, in which Kieran McKenna’s side didn’t concede a single goal – in fact, Christian Walton’s net has not rippled for 596 minutes of football!
Luke Woolfenden and Cameron Burgess have been imperious at the back, with Massimo Luongo’s return boosting a midfield led superbly by Sam Morsy.
Meanwhile, Conor Chaplin has given the team more instinctive creativity in the final third since coming in, while the athletic Nathan Broadhead, on the left of the attack, has taken some of the burden off all-action left-back Leif Davis.
The cumulative effect of all these factors is a side that’s now just two points off Argyle, who lost 3-0 at Barnsley last time out.
Ipswich are the hunters, not the hunted: it’s a role they’ve thrived in for a month and there’s no reason for that to change against Shrewsbury.
Steve Cotterill’s solid Salop are not to be underestimated, but the Tractor Boys should end their Play-Off hopes at Portman Road.
Plymouth Argyle to beat Forest Green – 2/5
Argyle’s position in League One’s automatic promotion race is not as comfortable as it was, for reasons above, but they’re still in a great a position.
It’s impeccable home form that has put Steve Schumacher’s side – still, just – in pole position, with an astonishing 16 league wins in 18 at Home Park.
The Devonians had an off-night against Port Vale in December, falling 2-0 to Darrell Clarke’s side, and were held to a goalless draw by Fleetwood back in February, as some suggested complacency crept in.
It’s hard to see Argyle dropping points this time around, though, if Bali Mumba, Finn Azaz and Callum Wright dovetail as intended: the trio combined beautifully for the latter’s goal, off the bench, in the previous home game – a 2-1 victory over Derby.
Plus, striker Ryan Hardie missed a golden chance at Oakwell last time out with the game goalless, and even for the first hour – the Scot will get more of them against a side like Forest Green, and should make them pay.
The Green Devils are 12 points adrift at the bottom of the table, as manager Duncan Ferguson and owner Dale Vince begin to focus on preparation for the likelihood of life back in League Two next season.
Leyton Orient to beat Colchester – 4/6
Leyton Orient’s trip to Mansfield last week was postponed due to the weather, so Richie Wellens’ side will need to find their sharpness again after a fortnight without a competitive game.
It shouldn’t take the O’s too long to get their momentum back, though, as the Londoners are unbeaten in seven, and well over the January blip that saw some outsiders question their credentials.
Ed Turns has proved an inspired loan acquisition from Brighton, forging an excellent centre-back pairing with Omar Beckles, while Idris El Mizouni – on loan from Ipswich – is a delightful ball-carrier.
For much of the season, Orient have relied on key men Paul Smyth and George Moncur, but the form of Theo Archibald, Kieran Sadlier and Ruel Sotiriou has handed Wellens the luxury of bringing two of the top players in the league off the bench.
Colchester are in a different position: their aim is to develop youth and while they have some exciting talents from their academy, stopping the champions-elect looks an ominous assignment.
Northampton to beat Crewe – 3/5
It would be a stretch to say that Jon Brady has everything in his favour, going into his promotion-chasing Northampton side’s hosting of Crewe.
The Cobblers are hamstrung by injuries to full-backs Aaron McGowan and Ali Koiki, along with midfielder Shaun McWilliams, but they coped well enough without those in last week’s 1-0 win over promotion rivals Mansfield.
The margin of Teyn’s victory was modest, but on chances they could have scored three or four, and with Mitch Pinnock back they’re boosted further.
If Northampton get the result they want, they are guaranteed to either move into the automatic promotion spots, or gain ground on one or both of their rivals, with 3rd-placed Carlisle hosting 2nd-placed Stevenage – the incentive for victory is huge.
That couldn’t be said of Crewe, who lost 1-0 at Stevenage last time out: not a disgraceful result on paper, far from it, but fans were unhappy with the lack of attacking intent from Lee Bell’s side, with the manager admitting they weren’t good enough with the ball, and thus mustered just two efforts all game – both off-target.
Northampton might not quite be at full strength but they should have enough in their armoury to send the Railwaymen back to Cheshire empty-handed.
- Millwall to beat Huddersfield – 8/15
- Ipswich to beat Shrewsbury – 2/5
- Plymouth Argyle to beat Forest Green – 2/5
- Leyton Orient to beat Colchester – 4/6
- Northampton to beat Crewe – 3/5
£10 bet returns £80.14!