Aston Villa hold the advantage heading into their second-leg clash with Middlesbrough in the Sky Bet Championship play-offs. Tom Carnduff has 2/1 and 18/1 best bets.
Aston Villa v Middlesbrough recommended bets
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
Aston Villa welcome Middlesbrough to Villa Park on Tuesday evening and they're sitting in the driving seat for a spot at Wembley.
Steve Bruce's men lead 1-0 on aggregate thanks to Mile Jedinak's first-half header on Saturday, but I'm looking at another player in Robert Snodgrass to shine when the two sides meet again.
One price caught my eye and that's Snodgrass to score from outside the area at 18/1, which for me looks too big.
The 30-year-old has been a star for Villa this season and has scored eight goals in the Championship, contributing a further 13 assists.
He's a bit of a specialist when it comes to dead-ball situations, and Darren Randolph's fingertips denied him scoring from distance at the Riverside in the first-leg.
The Middlesbrough defence struggled to contain him for large parts of the game, and on that evidence he'll be a handful once again in the second-leg.
Snodgrass is 7/2 to strike anytime in the game, but I think the 18/1 that is available on him scoring from outside the area is very tempting.
He came close to doing it just days ago and, his goal in the 4-0 win against Burton an example of how dangerous he can be from distance, the disparity between those two prices is far too great.
- The home team has failed to win any of the last 12 clashes between Middlesbrough and Aston Villa in all competitions, with the Villans being the last side to secure a home victory, in March 2005 in the Premier League (2-0).
- None of the previous 15 second tier teams to win the first leg of a play-off semi-final (current format) away from home have failed to reach the final, with only six of those teams winning promotion.
- In the 1987-88 season, Middlesbrough lost their first leg match in the play-off semi-final versus Bradford but still progressed to the final, earning promotion over two legs and relegating top-flight Chelsea in the process.
- Aston Villa have lost only one of their last 10 home games at Villa Park, winning seven and drawing two.
- Middlesbrough have won just two of their last nine away games, although four of those have ended level (L3).
- The Boro have won four and lost just one of their last eight away games against Aston Villa in all competitions (D3).
- Jack Grealish assisted the only goal of the game in the first leg on Saturday – since his return to the side in November, only Robert Snodgrass (12) has provided more assists for the Villans than Grealish (6).
- Albert Adomah has had a hand in four goals in his last five league and play-offs appearances against Middlesbrough (two goals, two assists), although failed to score and assist last time out.
- Steve Bruce has lost only one of his last seven play-off games as a manager (W4 D2).
- Tony Pulis has only won two of his previous nine away games against Aston Villa as a manager, although those wins have come in the last four trips (D4 L3).
Historically, this fixture may be one for the away side, but I expect Villa to secure victory and a place in the final.
They're a best price of 13/10 to wrap up the win in the 90 minutes and that's fair despite the fact that another close game is expected.
Villa need to avoid defeat to reach Wembley, and they will be full of confidence having lost just one of their last 10 games at home.
On the contrary, Middlesbrough have only won three of their last 10 away, although one of those was a 2-1 win over play-off rivals Derby - a result that would be good enough to force extra-time.
Villa may have won with the only goal in the first leg, but 11 of the last 13 games at Villa Park have seen over 1.5 goals scored. At 2/1, it's worth a small bet for that trend to continue in a Villa victory.
Score prediction: Aston Villa 2-0 Middlesbrough (Sky Bet odds: 9/1)
Best bet: Robert Snodgrass to score from outside the box at 18/1
Alternative bet: Aston Villa to win and over 1.5 goals in the match at 2/1