Minstermen can beat, but not batter, Cod Army in play-offs
League Two sides York City and Fleetwood Town battle at Bootham Crescent in the first play-off semi-final, while Burton Albion entertain Southend United in the other tie.
All four clubs are managed by former Premier League dwellers, as a player or manager, Nigel Worthington, Graham Alexander, Gary Rowett and Phil Brown respectively, and are itching to advance the leagues.
York City v Fleetwood Town – Saturday
York (evens to qualify) and Fleetwood (4/5) are the favourites with Coral to get promoted to League One, at 11/4 and 11/5 respectively, and it seems likely whoever will come through both legs will win the play-off final at Wembley.
York are bidding to play in England’s third tier for the first time since 2004, while the Cod Army are hoping to reach uncharted waters.
Just five points separated the two sides in the table, and both have beaten the other this season. However, both the victories were away. More worryingly for the Minstermen, is that in the last six head-to-heads between the two teams the home side has never won. Fleetwood are priced at 19/10 to beat them, with odds of 9/4 for a draw.
Nigel Worthington’s side are very much the in-form club in the league, though. They are undefeated in their last 17 games, and are favourites to win here at 7/5. However, besides the recent 2-2 comeback draw away to already promoted Scunthorpe, York have only managed to score a maximum of one goal in their previous eight. Odds of 6/1 suggest they can win 1-0.
Former Norwich City and Northern Ireland boss Worthington has started with the same lineup for the last two games, so back Ryan Coulson, who has netted three in the club’s last five, to get a goal anytime for the Minstermen.
For the away side, season top scorer Antoni Sacevic is a great shout. He has netted 13 times in the league this campaign, including six in his last 10, and has odds of 2/1 for a goal anytime again.
Burton Albion v Southend United – Sunday
The second first leg play-off League Two fixture sees Burton and Southend battle for the final. They both finished level on points in the table, and it is no surprise they are both priced odds-on individually to qualify at 10/11 and get promoted at 3/1.
Southend hold the slight upper hand in terms of head-to-heads, as they won both meetings 1-0 this term, including the final match of the season, so take odds of 21/10 for them to beat Burton again, and 7/1 by that scoreline. The Shrimpers have also gained six victories in their last eight games, while the home side have lost their previous two.
Phil Brown, however, has previous play-off promotion experience, after reaching the promised land of the Premier League with his former club Hull City in 2008, thanks to a Dean Windass stunner. They are favourites for victory here at 13/10.
This will be Burton’s second play-off appearance in two seasons, while Southend competed the previous campaign. Neither reached the final in their respective years, however.
For the away side, Barry Corr, who netted the only goal of this last fixture, is favourite at 7/4 to score again. Leading Burton marksman Billy Kee, meanwhile is evens to be on target.