The Carabao Cup continues this week with all the Football League clubs hoping to make the final at Wembley on Sunday, March 1. Portsmouth are already in the second round after their 3-0 win over Birmingham last week. The current problems encountered with Bury means their participation in the competition may be over before it begins and their first-round opponents Sheffield Wednesday may end up getting a bye into the next round.
Burton exceeded everyone’s expectations last season by reaching the semi-finals where they lost 1-0 to eventual winners Manchester City who won the first leg 9-0. It’s worth remembering ties will go straight to penalties if the game is level after 90 minutes. Charlie Mullan selects some of the best bets available from this week’s ties.
Salford to beat Leeds @ 5/1
The number one priority for Leeds United (10/21) this season is promotion back to the Premier League after a gap of a decade and a half. A run in the EFL Cup may be far down the club’s wish list and if last season is anything to go by, manager Marcelo Bielsa’s team selection might reflect that. Bielsa chose to rest some of his first team regulars for the competition 12 months ago and after winning their opening tie 2-1 with Bolton, they lost 2-1 at home to Preston.
This is Salford’s (5/1) first ever tie in the EFL Cup and as they have shown already this season they will be more than up for this tie, especially as it is on their home ground. Moor Lane has certainly seen its fair share of success over the years and the Manchester United ‘Class of ’92’ owners of the club will relish the visit of Leeds which promises to create a tremendous atmosphere.
Leeds have started their league programme with four points from a possible six after dropping two points at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Salford have three points to their name after their opening two fixtures after beating Stevenage 2-0 in their first ever fixture in the Football League. Salford to beat Leeds 2-0 is trading at 30/1 with SportPesa while Leeds to win by the same score is available at 13/2. Salford are 5/2 to make it to the second round while Leeds are 2/7 to make it a losing introduction to the EFL Cup for the League Two new boys.
Bielsa’s team selection should give us some indication as to how seriously he is taking the competition this season while Salford would love to send their opponents back over the Pennines with the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths. Salford, who are 41/20 to score the first goal, are 10/1 to win with both teams scoring while the Championship side are 37/20 to win with goals for both sides.
Rochdale to beat Bolton to nil @ 6/4
The fact that Phil Parkinson can field a team is credit to the Bolton (19/4) manager who continues to battle against financial hardship off the pitch with the club desperate for a new owner to come in and restore stability. Starting the season with a -12 points deduction makes Wanderers favourites for relegation to League Two, meaning cup runs could provide the club with some much needed income. Rochdale (20/41) have made an unbeaten start to their League One campaign with a 3-2 opening day win at Tranmere followed by a 1-1 draw at home to Doncaster on Saturday.
Bolton fielded their youngest ever starting XI with an average age of 19 for their creditable 0-0 draw at Coventry. A 0-0 draw in 90 minutes at Spotland is 17/2 with SportPesa. Saturday’s result was the second game in a row the Trotters had failed to score and that run could be extended to three at Rochdale who are 6/4 to win to nil. Rochdale have yet to keep a clean sheet this season which will offer Bolton some encouragement, but Rochdale should be able to progress to the next round without conceding a goal. Rochdale are 6/5 to keep a clean sheet while Bolton are 4/1 to keep their hosts goalless.
Both Grimsby and Doncaster to score @ 5/7
Looking at the league table has not made for good reading for supporters of Grimsby Town (13/5) in recent years with their focus on avoiding relegation out of the Football League. But right now, they sit fourth in League Two after making an unbeaten start to the season with a 2-0 opening day win at Morecambe followed by a 1-1 draw at home to Bradford on Saturday. Doncaster (1/1) have made a steady start to their league season with two 1-1 draws from their opening two fixtures at home to Gillingham and away to Rochdale.
Rovers conceded the first goal in each of those games and Grimsby are 27/20 with SportPesa to get the first goal in this tie with Doncaster 20/31 to take the lead in a match for the first time this season. The Mariners are 21/4 to beat Doncaster with both teams finding the net while Rovers are 27/10 to win and both teams to score. A score draw after 90 minutes is available at 16/5.
Both Mansfield and Morecambe to score @ 10/13
These two sides met in League Two on Saturday at Field Mill with Morecambe racing into a 2-0 lead within 21 minutes thanks to goals Sam Lavelle and Lewis Alessandra before Mansfield restored parity with goals from Nicky Maynard and Danny Rose. It was Mansfield’s second successive 2-2 draw and a third 2-2 draw is trading at 11/1 with SportPesa.
Saturday’s draw was the second consecutive game Morecambe had conceded two goals which makes it very possible for this game to finish level after 90 minutes with goals for both sides. Mansfield to score two goals is priced at 43/20. Rose has scored in both league games already this season and he will be keen to find the net for a third game running. Mansfield are 5/12 favourites to be in the draw for the second round while Morecambe are 9/5 to knock their hosts out either in 90 minutes or after penalties.
Over 2.5 goals between Scunthorpe and Derby @ 20/23
If only Scunthorpe (3/1) could press a button and restart their season. The Iron currently find themselves bottom of League Two, but with 44 league games to play, there is plenty of time for United to turn their fortunes around. Derby (5/6) started their season with an impressive 2-1 win at Huddersfield but then dropped points in their home opener after a goalless draw with Swansea on Saturday. The smart money will be on County to add to the misery currently surrounding Glanford Park with an EFL Cup win, but a lot will depend on Phillip Cocu’s team selection.
Even if he was to rest several of his first team regulars, Derby should be too strong for their League Two opponents. Scunthorpe have already conceded six goals in their two games which means there could be a few goals in this cup-tie. Over 2.5 goals is on the SportPesa market at 20/23 with Derby 17/10 to win and over 2.5 goals scored in the game. Scunthorpe are 23/4 to produce a shock and beat Derby with at least three goals scored in 90 minutes.
Over 2.5 goals between Barnsley and Carlisle @ 20/29
This tie between Championship new boys Barnsley (5/9) and League Two’s Carlisle (17/4) looks on paper to be a mis-match with the Tykes heavy favourites to advance to the next round. Despite losing 2-0 at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, Barnsley will be satisfied with the start they have made back in the second tier which began with a 1-0 win at home to Fulham.
Carlisle began the season with a 2-1 win at home to Crawley, but found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline at Swindon on Saturday. Eight goals in those two matches suggests there will be goals in this tie. Over 2.5 goals is available at 20/29 with SportPesa with Barnsley 6/5 to win the game with at least three goals or more. Carlisle may see this game as a chance to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat which saw them lose 3-2 after leading 2-0 and a Carlisle win with 2.5 or more goals scored is available at a generous 29/4. Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals is priced at 11/10.