Football Tips

Bolton vs Barnsley Match Preview, Predictions & Free Bets

The EFL League One playoffs get underway on Saturday, as Bolton plays host to Barnsley.

Fifth Versus Fourth

The playoffs are a fantastic concept for neutrals. They are absolutely nerve-wracking for the teams and supporters who are involved.

League One Drama

The EFL regular seasons may now be complete, and the respective final days created plenty of drama. Now it is time to ratchet up that drama even further and Saturday sees League One’s fourth and fifth seeds take to the stage.

While it is the fifth seed who have home advantage in the first leg of this semi-final tie, as Bolton prepares to welcome Barnsley through their doors. Saturday’s hosts finished five points behind their upcoming visitors, but the tallies are now reset to zero.

Not only are they both set to zero for both Yorkshire’s and Lancashire’s representatives, but you could argue that the former has more in the way of pre-playoff momentum. Ian Evatt’s men won each of their last two league games of the season, but Barnsley failed to win any of their last three.

A run of form that will certainly have Barnsley boss Michael Duff concerned and although one could argue that the brakes have been applied recently, one point from nine on offer is far from ideal preparation for a fixture of this magnitude.

Not only that, but a final-day defeat at home to Peterborough may also be enough to set the alarm bells ringing at Oakwell. Due to that win, the Posh sneaked into the top six, it could also provide a Wembley rematch at the end of the month.

Did Peterborough simply want it more knowing that they had to usurp Derby? Did Barnsley take things easy with this trip to the University of Bolton Stadium in mind? In fairness, there is probably an element of truth to both of these questions.

While there is also an element of truth in the fact that neither of these teams has much in the way of automatic deflation. Unlike Sheffield Wednesday, both Bolton and Barnsley’s playoff fate was long since secured and the Owls may not be in full flight for this stage of the campaign.

Because of this, it will only serve to add extra impetus to the teams in question here. The question is who can draw first blood in just a few hours? A Bolton side who have lost one of their last six but finished fifth or a Barnsley side who have won just two of their last six and finished fourth.

The one thing that both teams know is that they cannot cede too much advantage. The last thing you want to be is out of the tie before the second leg gets underway. That would be catastrophic for either party.

But now it is time for the first of my two tips and with the form guides being reset, I think Barnsley will know that a draw suits them better before the second leg. With this in mind, I am going to go for a stalemate but both teams scoring at odds of 7/2.

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Bolton vs Barnsley

Bolton vs Barnsley Tips

Good value on backing the draw and both to score

If both teams are scoring, it means I need a goalscorer each. Dion Charles is Bolton’s top scorer in the league. Devante Cole has the same honour for Barnsley. Add a goal each on a bet builder and this second tip is priced at 9/1.

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Bulton vs Barnsley

Bulton vs Barnsley Predictions

Goalscorer Predictions

Dan Tracey

Dan is one of our resident football experts at Freebets, and also the host of our Freebets Odds On Podcast