EFL TIPS: There will be no Championship fixtures this week as the World Cup break commences, but it’s business as usual in League One and Two with some more big matchups across both divisions.
We preview four games below, alongside some of our favourite bets.
Burton Albion vs Plymouth Argyle: Saturday 15:00
Last weekend’s 3-3 draw against Charlton made it three league home games unbeaten for Burton Albion. The Brewers have seemingly turned around their awful record at the Pirelli Stadium from the start of the season, where they lost five of their opening six fixtures in front of their own fans, and will look to use this new-found confidence at home as a foundation for escaping relegation.
They however remain second-bottom in the division, level on points with bottom side Forest Green, winning just three of their opening 18 games. With only one clean sheet coming from those fixtures, a visit from table-topping Plymouth Argyle on Saturday seems a daunting task.
Plymouth failed to hold on to victory against a deceivingly strong Lincoln City side last time out, though they still comfortably lead the division by four points as we hurtle towards the halfway point of the season. Saturday’s draw also means Argyle have won less than half of their away matches so far this campaign – somewhat contrasting their near-perfect home record – perhaps explaining why they’re quite generously priced at 2.52 for victory this weekend.
Despite the recent home and away form telling us otherwise, we’re backing Plymouth to pick up three points in this fixture. Steven Schumacher’s side look a cut above the rest in the division, let alone the team second from bottom.
Portsmouth vs Derby County: Friday 20:00
It’s fifth versus sixth in League One on Friday evening as Derby County make the trip south to Fratton Park, where Portsmouth have drawn each of their last four league matches. With just five points separating fifth and 15th in the division, there really isn’t any room for slip-ups in the hunt for a playoff position at the end of the season.
Portsmouth remain unbeaten at home in the league despite those four draws, but last weekend’s 1-1 draw to Morecambe means Pompey have won just one of their last eight league fixtures. Danny Cowley’s side will need to start converting some of those stalemates into victories if they are to push for a first Championship season since 2012, and can really make a statement by triumphing over their fellow promotion hopefuls under the lights on Friday night.
Derby extended their unbeaten run in the league to four games with an impressive 3-1 win away at MK Dons last week to keep tabs on the playoff positions. Paul Warne’s men are starting to find the net with more fluency, scoring eight in their last three games, and have interestingly conceded the second-least away goals in the division, making them a tough nut to crack on the road.
Portsmouth are probably a more impressive outfit, but we’re backing the Rams to get a result at Fratton Park on Friday to further boost their aspirations of a return to the Championship. Laying Portsmouth at 2.48 is the punt for this game.
Bradford City vs Northampton Town: Saturday 15:00
Bradford City continue to build momentum following their 2-0 away win at Sutton United last weekend, making it just one defeat in 14 games for the west Yorkshire side. That win saw them leapfrog Barrow into fourth position and just one place behind their opponents on Saturday, who currently occupy the final automatic promotion place.
Bradford have flattered to deceive in front of their own fans, failing to win their last four league games at Valley Parade, though they boast one of the meanest home defences in the division having conceded just six times in nine fixtures. Leaving with three points as an away side is certainly not an easy task, especially if their opposition this weekend sit above them in the league.
Northampton continued their promotion push with a solid 2-0 victory away at Gillingham last weekend, meaning the Cobblers have won four of their last six games on the road. The win was much-needed for Job Brady’s men after a lean run of form, though they comfortably remain the division’s highest goalscorers with 31 across their 18 league matches.
A win for Northampton would be a huge statement, but fans and players of Bradford alike will know that a win for them would see them leapfrog Northampton into third place. It’s a huge game, and neither side will be too unhappy with a point each here. Backing the draw at 3.4 is the selection for this one.
Stockport County vs Leyton Orient: Saturday 15:00
Stockport Country continue to rebuild from their abysmal start to the season, with last weekend’s 2-1 victory away at Newport making it four wins in five for Dave Challinor’s men. The Hatters are suddenly one of the most in-form sides in the division and will be keeping an eye on that ever-decreasing gap to the playoff places, which currently stands at five points.
Challinor’s side have been impressive at home recently, winning their last two fixtures at Edgeley Park at an aggregate score of 5-0, though they will face a stern test when table-toppers Leyton Orient visit Greater Manchester on Saturday afternoon.
Orient put behind the disappointment of their defeat to AFC Wimbledon a fortnight ago by convincingly winning at Harrogate Town last weekend, meaning it’s still a three-point gap between them and Stevenage in second. Another clean sheet for Richie Wellens’ side – their 11th in 18 games – reiterated the defensive quality and low-scoring affairs that have laid the foundations for Orient’s title charge, with an average of 2.17 goals per game the lowest out of any team in the top six.
It should be another tight affair on Saturday afternoon, with Stockport in great form at the moment, but Orient should have too much quality and resilience for the Hatters in this game. Backing the away side at 3.5 seems very good value for this one.