Nick Hext expects a wait for goals in the second leg of the Sky Bet League Two play-off semi-final between Exeter and Lincoln.
Exeter v Lincoln recommended bets
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Exeter City v Lincoln City - Aggregate: 0-0 (Sky Sports Football, 1945 BST)
This could be the final farewell for Exeter manager Paul Tisdale after just less than 12 years in charge of the Grecians.
The 45-year-old, who succeeded Arsene Wenger as the longest-serving boss in English football this week, is expected to leave for a new challenge at MK Dons, but only once the Sky Bet League Two play-offs are over.
Tisdale's Exeter are level at 0-0 with Lincoln ahead of the second leg on home soil at St James Park and the two teams can barely be split in the odds to reach the Wembley final.
The Grecians can be backed at a best price of 28/29 to progress and the Imps can be found at even-money to get through.
- Exeter, who also drew their first leg away from home in the Sky Bet League Two play-offs last season, won their only other home match in the play-offs, beating Carlisle United 3-2 before losing in the final to Blackpool.
- The 0-0 draw between the sides in the first leg was the Grecians’ first clean sheet in the Football League play-offs, having conceded 2+ goals in each of their other three games.
- The Imps have now failed to win any of their last seven play-off matches in the Football League (D2 L5), although their last outing prior to the first leg was back in 2007 (v Bristol Rovers).
- Lincoln have failed to reach the final in three of their five previous play-off campaigns in the Football League, and have also lost the two finals in which they did reach (0-2 v Southend in 2005 and 2-5 v Bournemouth in 2003).
- After winning their first ever away game in the Football League play-offs (1-0 at Scunthorpe in 2003), the Imps have failed to win each of their last four on the road since (D2 L2).
- In the Football League’s fourth tier, only one of the last 32 sides that failed to win the semi-final first leg at home have managed to go on and win promotion via the play-offs (Bradford City in 2013).
- Exeter have only lost one of their last 11 games at home to Lincoln in all competitions (W6 D4), including wins in each of the last three.
- Despite failing to score in the first leg, Exeter’s Jayden Stockley has netted 12 league goals in 2018; only Mohamed Eisa (14) and Marc McNulty (15) have managed more in Sky Bet League Two.
I fully understand why the bookies find it so hard to take a verdict on this tie.
The two teams were closely matched in the opening encounter at Sincil Bank and both games in the regular season between the pair ended in a win by one goal to the home team.
Lincoln manager Danny Cowley has been trying to portray his team as the underdogs but I stand in solidarity with the bookies and make it too close to call.
The best way to make a profit is by going for a goalless first half.
There wasn't much action to report in the opening 45 minutes of the first leg and I reckon a cagey start is once again on the cards.
Lincoln have only managed to score in the first half in one of their last seven matches and Exeter didn't net in any of the opening periods in their previous three games.
That means it's also worth taking a look at the most goals to be scored in the second half.
I reckon the match will become more open after the break and that's when the entertainment will start.
Score prediction: Exeter 1-1 Lincoln (Sky Bet's odds: 9/2)
Best bet: Under 0.5 goals in the first half at 159/100
Alternative bet: Most goals to be scored in the second half at 13/10