Conference play-off final: Bristol Rovers bid to bounce back
Bristol Rovers are looking to become the first side for a decade to be relegated from the Football League and make an immediate return, but they must win the Conference play-off final against Grimsby Town to achieve this.
Coral fancy the Pirates to do just that on Wembley’s hallowed turf, and make them 5/4 for victory in 90 minutes. Rovers are unbeaten against the Mighty Mariners this term, recording a home draw and win on the Lincolnshire coast during the regular season. A repeat of that 1-0 result is a 6/1 shot.
Grimsby thus have it all to prove, but finally got past the semi-final stage in the Conference play-offs at the third attempt, so should be taken seriously as 7/4 shouts to end their own Football League exile in normal time.
A draw, which means at least an additional half hour, meanwhile, is an 11/5 chance.
This will be a day of mixed emotions for Mariners club captain Craig Disley, who spent five years with the Bristol side between 2004 and 2009, and he is 7/2 in the anytime market for come back and haunt his old side.
There are other Grimsby goal threats, most notably leading marksman Lenell John-Lewis. While he shares his surname with a popular department store, he scored 16 during the regular season, and is shorter at 7/4.
On-loan wingers Nathan Arnold (6/4 anytime) and Nathan Arnold (also 7/2 in that market) bagged respective braces in semi-final victories over Eastleigh, so should also be considered.
It’s clear, however, Rovers have the more high-profile attackers. Top scorer Matty Taylor took his league tally to 20 by netting in both semi legs against Forest Green Rovers, but what was so impressive about the Pirates’ 3-0 aggregate win was that they opposing target man Jon Parkin out.
Taylor is a 5/1 shot to grab the opener again at Wembley, while Colombian winger Angelo Balanta should be a cut above this level. Splendid anytime odds of 7/2 are well worth a punt on the ex-QPR man.
Wales forward Jermaine Easter is also on Rovers’ books, and in the same bracket as Balanta. It’s 15/8 he can make his international class tell anytime.
Bristol native Chris Lines is back at his boyhood club, on loan from Port Vale, and for the sentimental punters he is 5/1 to repeat his semi-final second leg strike anytime and help send the Pirates back into the Football League.
Coral’s betting tip: Take a fabulous 4/1 wincast for Matty Taylor to score anytime and Bristol Rovers to beat Grimsby in 90 minutes.