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League One and League Two play-offs: Bantams among those backed for weekend wins

Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | May 13, 2016

This weekend’s Football League play-offs action in the third and fourth tiers will go a long way to shaping the promotion picture.

Portsmouth and Plymouth Argyle drew 2-2 on Thursday in the opening League Two first leg semi, and that set the bar high for their return match at Home Park on Sunday.

Before that, however, we’ll see divisional rivals Accrington Stanley and AFC Wimbledon wrangle, and all four League One contenders compete…

Barnsley v Walsall

  • League One play-off semi-final first leg
  • Saturday, May 14th
  • Oakwell, Barnsley
  • Kick-off time: 17:30 BST
  • Live on Sky Sports 1

Away day trend could continue

Wigan Athletic v Barnsley - Sky Bet League One - DW Stadium

Regular season meetings between the Tykes and Saddlers resulted in victories for the away sides by two-goal margins, so that would seem to suggest Walsall are ones to back are 21/10.

Momentum is certainly with the West Midlands outfit with three consecutive wins coming into the play-offs, and it’s mind-boggling Barnsley who are made 11/8 favourites with a pretty poor home record.

A draw is 9/4, but there is real value in getting behind Walsall, who have Wales’ Euro 2016 call-up striker Tom Bradshaw in fine form.

Bradshaw threat

Walsall v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One - Bescot Stadium

Netting in both of his previous two appearances going into this game and a 50 per cent scoring rate against the Tykes, Bradshaw is a terrific 13/8 anytime chance to net here.

The hosting Tykes have their own in-form attackers, with 20-goal frontman Sam Winnall chief among them. He is a 4/1 shot to score first.

Supporting players Conor Hourihane is an anytime alternative at 13/5, while Manchester United academy product Ashley Fletcher is a tasty 2/1 in that market.

AFC Wimbledon v Accrington Stanley

  • League Two play-off semi-final first leg
  • Saturday, May 14th
  • Kingsmeadow, Kingston Upon Thames
  • Kick-off time: 19:30 BST
  • Live on Sky Sports 1

Coleman’s crew in superb form

Wycombe Wanderers v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League Two - Adams Park

Although Wimbledon took four points off Accrington in their two league games, the Lancashire outfit are on an unbeaten run of 12 games. It is well worth siding with Stanley, then, to win at 2/1.

Neal Ardley’s men have the worst defensive record and poorest attack of the League Two play-off candidates, yet are 7/5 chances for a home win. A draw, meanwhile, is 23/10, but a repeat of the 0-0 from March just doesn’t look on the cards at 17/2.

Rangers-bound Josh Windass is in fantastic form for Accrington, with four in his last five, and is a terrific 2/1 to strike again anytime. Leading marksman Billy Kee is slightly shorter at 19/10. Lyle Taylor leads the Wimbledon threat, but is 13/10 in the same market.

Bradford City v Millwall

  • League One play-off semi-final first leg
  • Sunday, May 15th
  • Valley Parade, Bradford
  • Kick-off time: 12:15 BST
  • Live on Sky Sports 1

All signs point to Bantams victory

Bradford City v Millwall - Sky Bet League One - Coral Windows Stadium

Bradford have won seven of their last nine to nil, and are unbeaten against the Lions this term and last. Phil Parkinson’s team are 6/4 favourites to establish a lead to take down to The Den and 11/2 to repeat their 1-0 victory from six weeks ago.

Millwall go to West Yorkshire as 2/1 outsiders, and the tie to be level is reckoned even less likely at 21/10. The 33-goal partnership of Lee Gregory (19/10 anytime) and Steve Morison (21/10) is one thing in the Londoners’ favour, but they are yet to breach the Bantams defence.

James Hanson is the man for the big occasion in Bradford colours, and he’s 11/5 to poach another here. A terrific 31/20 price is available on a Bantams clean sheet, and that could be the best bet of them all this weekend.

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Coral’s top tip: Bradshaw is a terrific 13/8 to net anytime for Walsall at Barnsley.

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