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Football Betting Tips: Big Bradford backing can help Bantams steal a march

Goal difference was all that separated Bradford and Carlisle in League Two this season and their two-legged play-off semi-final promises to be a fiercely contested affair.

Aaron Ashley’s Bradford v Carlisle tips

First Leg - Bradford to win @ 13/10 
Andy Cook to score first @ 9/2

Odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and subject to fluctuation.

Setting the scene…..

Both Bradford and Carlisle amassed 76 points from their 46 games, with the Cumbrians finishing one place above the Yorkshire outfit in League Two courtesy of a much healthier goal difference.

With automatic promotion up for grabs, the pair faltered at the business end of the campaign with Bradford winning only one of their final five matches and Carlisle obliging just twice in their last 11.

Carlisle won the argument with the Bantams in their regular-season meetings, triumphing 1-0 on home soil at Brunton Park before battling valiantly for a goalless draw at Valley Parade.

However, Bradford suffered defeat only twice in their final 13 games on their own patch and may be hopeful of exacting their revenge with 28-goal striker Andy Cook operating at the peak of his powers.

First Leg - Bradford to win @ 13/10

With a big attendance anticipated, home advantage looks a valuable asset for Bradford and they can ensure they have a first-leg lead to defend at Brunton Park.

Like Carlisle, the Bantams may have seen their levels drop at the end of the season with only one win from their final five fixtures.

However, that victory did come at promoted Northampton, while a 1-1 draw at home to champions Leyton Orient on the final day of the campaign can hardly be considered a poor result.

That means Bradford’s only two defeats in 12 home league games in 2023 came against Rochdale and Barrow, but they do tend to raise their stakes for classier opposition having also beaten promoted Stevenage and play-off rivals Salford on their own patch.

Mark Hughes’ Premier League managerial experience should be another positive for Bradford in this knockout-style football and, in what is bound to be a nervy affair, one goal may be enough to win it.

The Cumbrians won only twice in their final 11 games and that run of form includes them failing to score in four of their last six on the road.

Interestingly, under 2.5 goals was a winning bet in eight of Carlisle’s final 10 away games and, although that looks a likely scenario again, there is greater value in backing Bradford to triumph at 13/10.

Given there was only one goal scored in the two meetings between this pair in the regular season, bettors may also want to consider backing the hosts to prevail 1-0 at 5/1.

Aaron Ashley’s Tip:

A low-scoring contest looks likely in what is a high-pressure situation but Bradford have the greater quality in their ranks and home support could help them seize the initiative.

Having once looked on course for automatic promotion, Carlisle limped over the line and could be there for the taking. Back Bradford at 13/10.


Andy Cook to score first @ 9/2

Both teams inherit a prolific goalscorer but while the goals of Carlisle's Kristian Dennis have dried up a little of late, Bradford's Andy Cook has only gotten stronger.

Dennis finished third in the League Two scoring charts with 20 goals in 44 games, but the 33-year-old netted only three times in his final 17 appearances.

Cook, meanwhile, won the League Two Golden Boot award with 28 goals in 46 matches and 15 of that tally came in his final 20 appearances as he finished with a flourish.

The Bantams hotshot, who is also on penalty duty, was averaging a goal every 120 minutes and at 9/2 he could represent value to open the scoring.

Of the 23 league games Cook scored in, the 32-year-old opened the scoring on 11 occasions and he could be the difference maker at Valley Parade.

Aaron Ashley’s Tip:

Cook has enjoyed the season of his life, scoring 28 goals in 46 league games, and League Two's leading marksman could continue that rich vein of form in the play-offs. He has opened the scoring 11 times this season and gives Bradford the edge in this encounter.

Aaron Ashley’s Bradford v Carlisle tips

First Leg - Bradford to win @ 13/10 
Andy Cook to score first @ 9/2

Odds displayed were correct at the time of writing and subject to fluctuation.

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