Playoff season is here. Charlton Athletic and Shrewsbury Town went toe to toe on Thursday evening and Paul Hurst’s men came out on top at The Valley. Lee Bowyer’s side will look to regroup ahead of the trip up to Shrewsbury on Sunday evening.
But anyway, enough about that – it is time to focus on the upcoming playoff games. Derby County and Fulham could serve up a feast of football at Pride Park on Friday night; check out our best bets on the five remaining postseason first leg fixtures below…
DERBY COUNTY vs FULHAM
The Rams will be quietly confident of securing a positive result on home soil and the Pride Park faithful could give Derby an edge on Friday night.
Gary Rowett’s side finished 13 points behind Fulham in the regular season but in a two-legged playoff game, anything can happen – and it so often does.
Fulham head into this clash as the Championship’s in-form team and the Cottagers will take some stopping in their pursuit of promotion.
Slavisa Jokanovic will have his troops fired up and the visitors will be looking to emulate March’s 2-1 triumph in this fixture. The selection has landed in the last five games involving both clubs and I’ll be taking that at 3/4.
TIP: Both teams to score @ 3/4
SCUNTHORPE UNITED vs ROTHERHAM UNITED
Scunthorpe are on an eight-match unbeaten run and plenty of punters will fancy the Iron to avoid defeat this weekend.
The decision to sack Graham Alexander raised a few eyebrows at the time but what a decision it was. Since then, Nick Daws has taken over and Scunthorpe are playing well – the hosts are value at 2/5 to win or draw here.
Fortunately for Rotherham, their recent form in this encounter is positive. The visitors won both regular season matches this season and Paul Warne will be quietly confident of picking up a positive result in this clash.
The Millers have been superb in the second half of the campaign and fans will be hoping for another big effort on Saturday afternoon.
TIP: Scunthorpe to win OR draw @ 2/5
LINCOLN CITY vs EXETER CITY
Just five points separated seventh-placed Lincoln and third-placed Exeter and there is little to choose between them ahead of this playoff clash.
A tight encounter is fancied at Sincil Bank; neither side will want to give too much away. Lincoln will look to exploit any hesitancy shown by Exeter though and the Imps could be the team to back.
Meanwhile, the Grecians limped over the line to secure third spot after winning just two of their final five games.
With 19 goals this season, Jayden Stockley could be Exeter’s biggest threat on Saturday and the visiting fans will be expecting a big performance from the 24-year-old. For me, the 4/5 for both teams NOT to score is the one to be on.
TIP: Both teams to score – NO @ 4/5
MIDDLESBROUGH vs ASTON VILLA
Tony Pulis will have Middlesbrough fired up and ready to go on Saturday evening – there is an aura of expectation around the Riverside Stadium.
Patrick Bamford’s 97th minute goal at Ipswich Town last weekend moved Boro up to fifth and that secured a clash with Aston Villa; the hosts need to get off to a fast start in this encounter.
The visitors will be quietly confident of securing a result in the north east and 8/13 for Steve Bruce’s side to avoid defeat is well worth taking.
Villa have been solid for the most part of the campaign and another consistent performance looks likely here. At the very least, they should head back to Villa Park knowing that a win will be enough to secure a Wembley berth.
TIP: Aston Villa to win OR draw @ 8/13
COVENTRY CITY vs NOTTS COUNTY
It would be foolish to write Coventry off at the Ricoh Arena. The Sky Blues have been solid on home turf all season and another positive result could be on the cards.
It might be a close encounter though; defences may come out on top. 4/6 for under 2.5 goals is the way to go in this clash.
Notts County were leading the way at the top of the table in the early stages of the season but their form tailed off after the busy festive period.
Capable of causing Coventry issues, the visitors may choose to sit back and soak up pressure before counter attacking. It might not be the most entertaining contest this weekend but it will be intriguing nevertheless.
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 4/6
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*