The EFL playoffs get underway this week with 12 clubs hoping to end their campaigns with a promotion party. The biggest prize awaits the winner of the Championship play-offs with a place in the Premier League up for grabs at the end of the world’s richest football match. The good news for Leeds United is that the team that has finished third in the Championship ahead of the playoffs have won promotion 11 times in the last 30 seasons.
Charlie Mullan highlights some of the bets available as the football season draws to a close. Remember, away goals do not count, so extra-time could be required if the scores are level at the end of the second leg.
Both Villa and West Brom to score
Two Midlands side meet at Villa Park hoping to return to the Premier League after short spells in the Championship. This is Aston Villa’s second season in the second tier while West Brom, famed for being a yo-yo club, are looking to bounce back to the top flight following their relegation at the end of the 2017/18 season. Villa are 1/1 with SportPesa to win the first leg on home soil while the Baggies are 3/1 to take a lead back to the Hawthorns for next week’s second leg with the draw 47/20.
The Baggies finished the term fourth, one place and four points clear of Dean Smith’s side and West Brom are unbeaten in their last four meetings with Villa. There is a good chance both teams will score in this fixture given the frequency in which it has happened in games involving both Villa and West Brom this season.
Only Rotherham (32) were involved in more matches where both teams scored than the Baggies’ 31 games which is one more than Villa’s 30. Five of West Brom’s last six league games have seen both teams score while it has occurred in six of Villa’s last eight league games. Villa are 29/10 to win with both teams scoring while West Brom are 13/2 to win with both sides finding the net while a score draw is available at 16/5.
Jay Rodriguez is 27/10 to be an anytime scorer having scored in both meetings with Villa this season, scoring in the last minute of the first half of their 2-0 win at Villa Park on February 16 after scoring in the last minute of the second half of their 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns on December 7.
Tammy Abraham finished the regular season with 25 goals – five behind Norwich’s Teemu Pukki, and he needs one more goal to reach 20 league goals at Villa Park. Abraham, who is coming back from a shoulder injury, is 16/5 to score the first goal and he is 23/20 to be an anytime scorer.
Over 2.5 goals between Derby and Leeds
Derby and Leeds renew their rivalry with their first leg at Pride Park where Leeds will be looking to make it four games unbeaten against the Rams. All eyes will be on the handshake between the two managers after Leeds eyes were caught spying on County’s training in the days leading up to United’s 2-0 win at Elland Road on January 11. Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds were fined £200,000 for their part in ‘Spygate’ and the issue should add further spice to this play-off battle. Frank Lampard’s Derby are 41/20 to win the first leg while United are 29/20 to take a first leg advantage back to Elland Road next week. A draw is trading at 43/20 with SportPesa.
Three of the last four meetings between these two sides have produced at least three goals. County are 17/4 to win with at least three goals scored while Leeds are 3/1 to win the game with over 2.5 goals scored.
Kemar Roofe has enjoyed playing against Derby this season with three goals in the two meetings including two at Pride Park when Leeds won 4-1 on August 11. Roofe is 15/4 to open the scoring at Pride Park and 33/20 to be an anytime scorer. For Derby, Harry Wilson’s stock continues to rise at Pride Park with his 15th goal scored from the penalty spot in County’s 3-1 win at home to West Brom that secured their place in the play-offs. Wilson, on loan from Liverpool, is 29/10 to be an anytime scorer and 13/2 to be the game’s first scorer.
Odds to win promotion to the Premier League: 37/20 Aston Villa, Leeds, 15/4 West Brom, 9/2 Derby.
Both Sunderland and Portsmouth to score
By the end of the season, Sunderland (13/10) and Portsmouth (43/20) will have met each other five times. Pompey have won two of the three meetings this season including the EFL Trophy final after extra-time and penalties at Wembley while the league meeting at the Stadium of Light was drawn 1-1. That was one of 33 Sunderland games and 32 Portsmouth matches in the league in which both teams have scored. Of Sunderland’s 23 home league games, both teams have scored in 17 of them while it has happened in 18 of Pompey’s 23 league games away from Fratton Park.
The last time a meeting between these two sides failed to see both teams score was nine games ago in February 2008 when Portsmouth won 1-0 at Fratton Park in the Premier League. Both teams to score is trading at 20/23 with SportPesa while Sunderland are 15/4 to win with both teams scoring while Portsmouth are 11/2 to win the first leg with both Pompey and the Black Cats finding the net. A score draw is trading at 3/1.
Seven of Sunderland’s last eight league games and Portsmouth’s last seven games have seen both teams score. Sunderland have scored in all 23 of their home games while Portsmouth have found the net in their last 12 matches. Portsmouth’s last two visits to the Stadium of Light have ended in 1-1 draws where they have had to come from behind to secure a point. Sunderland are 4/5 to score the first goal with the visitors 6/5 to open the scoring in the north east. Another 1-1 draw is priced at 4/1.
Sunderland’s Will Grigg, a mid-season signing from Wigan, tops the goalscoring market at 4/1 to score the first goal and 7/4 to be an anytime scorer. Jamal Lowe has scored in the last two meetings against Sunderland and the Pompey man is 11/4 to score anytime during the first leg and 13/2 to open the scoring.
Under 2.5 goals between Doncaster and Charlton
Doncaster (13/10) and Charlton (41/20) will meet for the fourth and fifth time this season in the playoffs after two league games and an FA Cup tie won by Doncaster. The Addicks have taken four of the six points available in the league including a 1-1 draw at the Keepmoat Stadium on March 2. The last five meetings have failed to produce over 2.5 goals and with so much at stake, this could be another low-scoring encounter. Under 2.5 goals is trading at 10/17 with Doncaster 16/5 to win with less than 2.5 goals scored and Charlton are 9/2 to take a lead back to the Valley with less than 2.5 goals netted.
Six of Charlton’s last seven wins have been to nil and the Addicks are 33/10 with SportPesa to win the first leg without conceding a goal. Doncaster’s last three wins have also been to nil and they are 47/20 to do the same against Rovers.
Doncaster’s John Marquis is favourite to score the opening goal in the first leg with odds of 27/4 and 7/5 to be an anytime scorer. Charlton’s Lyle Taylor finished the regular with 21 goals – the same number as Marquis – and the Charlton front man is 2/1 to be an anytime scorer and 16/5 to open the scoring.
Odds to win promotion to the Championship: 23/10 Sunderland, Portsmouth, Charlton, 5/1 Doncaster
Newport to win by a single-goal margin
In League Two, Mansfield (37/20) travel to Rodney Parade to face Newport (31/20) hoping to be the first team since February 12 to beat the Welsh side on home soil in the league. County are unbeaten in their last seven games since MK Dons beat them 1-0. In fact, County are unbeaten in their last 10 games while their opponents enter the playoffs on the back of three successive defeats.
All 10 of Mansfield’s league defeats this season have been by a single-goal margin and Newport, who finished the season five points behind Mansfield, are 59/20 with SportPesa to win by a single-goal margin. Mansfield are also 59/20 to win by a single-goal margin.
Home advantage has been a key in both league meetings this season with Newport winning 1-0 at Rodney Parade on February 9 after Mansfield won 3-0 at Field Mill on August 4. Another home win to nil is trading at 59/20, while Mansfield to win to nil is available at 3/1.
Mansfield’s Tyler Walker finished the regular season second in the league’s scoring chart with 22 of which only two have been scored before half-time. In fact, his last 17 goals have come after half-time and he is 7/2 to score the last goal at Rodney Parade. For Newport, Jamille Matt leads the way with 14 goals of which eight have been scored in the first half. Matt is 9/2 to score the first goal in the first leg and 37/20 to be an anytime scorer.
Tranmere’s James Norwood to be anytime scorer
Tranmere (5/4) are chasing back-to-back promotions following their success in the National League 12 months ago while Forest Green’s (23/10) meteoric rise up the leagues shows no sign of stopping. Forest Green, who were a National League side just two years ago, hold the advantage ahead of the two legs having beaten Tranmere in both league meetings this season. But in the play-offs, past results count for very little.
Motivation for Tranmere striker James Norwood shouldn’t be difficult as he needs just one goal to reach the 30-goal mark for the season with 12 coming away from home. Norwood is 16/5 to score the first goal and 13/10 to be an anytime scorer. For Forest Green, Christian Doidge is favourite to score the opening goal of the tie at 5/1 and 43/20 to be an anytime scorer.
Forest Green have scored in both halves in more away games than any other side in League Two this season and they are 15/4 to make it nine games with a goal in either half at Prenton Park.
Tranmere have yet to lose a home game after scoring the first goal and they are 10/13 to find the net first while the visitors are 13/10 to score the first goal. A 0-0 draw is trading at 27/4.
Odds to win promotion to the League One: 6/4 Mansfield, Forest Green 11/4, Tranmere 3/1, Newport 4/1