The Championship season is reaching its climax, and I’ve picked out three selections for a boosted Bet Builder, as promotion-chasing Huddersfield host relegation-threatened Barnsley.
Things appear to be falling into place for the Terriers. After a little blip a few weeks ago, where they picked up one point from a possible nine, they bounced back with wins against Hull and Luton, before drawing with QPR, then securing a huge win against play-off rivals Middlesbrough.
The loss was a huge blow to Chris Wilder’s men, but it virtually guaranteed play-off football for Huddersfield.
At the other end of the table however, Barnsley’s fate has looked sealed since Christmas. Just two wins from the first 29 games saw them cut adrift, and despite improved results over the last couple of months – 16 points from their last 13 games is steady mid-table form – it’s come too late. The Tykes now need to win their remaining four games and hope Reading pick up one point at most from their final three.
Town boss Carlos Corberan has a lengthy injury list to deal with but if his Huddersfield side play anything like they did against Middlesbrough on Monday then they should have little problem in seeing off a struggling Barnsley side that now need a miracle to stay in the second tier. The Tykes have had 47 shots in their last three games with just two goals to show for it, and the need for points could see an open game with Over 2 Goals in the match being my first selection.
Levi Colwill and Danny Ward were missing on Teesside, but Corberan would’ve been delighted to see both Naby Sarr and Jordan Rhodes on the scoresheet at the Riverside with the 6ft5 Sarr scoring the Terriers’ 19th goal of the season from a set-play – the most in the Championship.
An injury to the influential Sorba Thomas is a concern; the 23-year-old has just Harry Wilson and John Swift above him in the assist table, but Barnsley have the fourth-worst set-piece xG against record in the league and they can be got at from dead balls even without Thomas. Sarr may well score for the third game in a row, but I’m leaving him alone at a single-figure price.
Instead I’m looking at the shots market. The brilliant Lewis O’Brien could be the one to profit, so he’s my choice in my boosted Bet Builder. The midfielder hasn’t managed to get a shot off in his last two games, but he accumulated 11 in the previous six, so with the possibility of gaps to exploit, he’s my play to have Over 1.5 Shots in the match.
You may have seen referee James Linnington issue two red cards for one tackle at Gillingham on Easter Monday as well as sending Luton’s Sonny Bradley for an early bath on Good Friday. The Easter cards may have come down but Linnington’s card count continues to go up, so the bookings market may warrant some attention.
After picking up his seventh booking of the season against Luton a couple of weeks ago, Lee Nicholls is no longer a double-figure price to be carded – this referee has been one of many to book the keeper during this campaign, but at the prices I’m looking elsewhere.
Domingos Quina has more cautions than goals and has committed more fouls than he’s had shots this season, racking up 10 fouls in his last three matches. Quina to be carded by Linnington, who has flashed 129 yellow cards so far this campaign, is my final play.
Over 2 Goals – 10/11
Lewis O’Brien Over 0.5 Shots – 1/6
Domingos Quina To Be Booked – 4/1
Bet Builder boosted from 10/1 to 14/1
By Steve Freeth