Most Read Football

Joelinton scores for Newcastle against Tottenham1

Joelinton lifts the Toon gloom

Joelinton's goal stunned Spurs as Newcastle lifted some of the gloom around Steve Bruce with a hard-fought 1-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Sporting Life picks out the top five events or fixtures of the week not to be missed2

Five for the week: Aug 26-Sep 1

Our 'Five for the Week' looks ahead to another exciting week of sport, including Premier League football, more top-class golf and the return of F1.

Premier League and EFL football gossip and transfer rumours3

Paper Talk: PSG target Zaha

Paris Saint-Germain are planning a shock £100m move for Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha - get all the latest from Sunday's back pages.

Raul Jimenez celebrates scoring for Wolves against Burnley at Molineux4

Raul rescues a point for Wolves

Burnley were denied an impressive win at Molineux as Raul Jimenez scored a dramatic stoppage-time penalty to give Wolves a 1-1 draw.

We celebrate the best bets that have come in over weekend5

Weekend Winners: Ebor extra strong

Two of our racing team marked the first £1million edition of the Sky Bet Ebor by tipping the winner as we close in on an almighty August. Get details in Weekend Winners.

Free betting tips and match preview: Sky Bet Championship - Luton Town v Middlesbrough

Our match preview for Luton Town v Middlesbrough
Our match preview for Luton Town v Middlesbrough

The Sky Bet EFL season kicks-off on Friday night as Luton welcome Middlesbrough to Kenilworth Road. Tom Carnduff picks out his best bets.


Recommended bets

1pt Daniel Ayala to be shown a card at 11/4

1pt Jonathan Howson to be shown a card at 9/2

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record


Luton finished the 2018/19 campaign as champions of Sky Bet League One, and they have the honour of kicking off the new EFL season.

They welcome Middlesbrough to Kenilworth Road, and while the Hatters are among the favourites for the drop, they should secure victory on opening day.

Boro are a side who come into this game with a squad that has shown little improvement on last season, although we should see a better brand of football.

One outgoing at the club is Aden Flint. While he didn't manage to hit his usual heights during his season at the club, it does leave them short at the back.

Dael Fry is still a few weeks away from full fitness which means we will see a centre-back pairing of Daniel Ayala and Ryan Shotton. The duo have little experience as a partnership and it showed at times during pre-season.

They may also be without first-choice goalkeeper Darren Randolph, who has missed a significant part of pre-season, while question marks remain over captain George Friend's fitness.

This should be a home victory. A team in Boro's situation do not want to open the campaign against a Luton side in high spirits following a title-winning campaign. The crowd will be on top of them at Kenilworth Road and that should reflect in the atmosphere.

They look good value at a price of 19/10, which is worth taking, but one of the best bets in this game is nearer to the 3s mark and that is Ayala being shown a card.

The defence is a worry heading into this one and Luton possess a striker in James Collins who brings a physical presence as well as goals.

Ayala has a reputation for a questionable temperament at times, often contributing to the eleven yellows and one red card he received last season, and he'll have his hands full as he attempts to keep Collins quiet.

His first two games in 2018/19 saw cautions, and there would be little surprise to see the same outcome here.

Lining-up to Ayala's right is likely to be Jonny Howson. A central midfielder by trade, he was utilised as a wing-back in the second-half of last season.

Five of the seven cards he picked up in the 2018/19 campaign came when playing in that position, and he too could be a name of interest to the referee.

Score prediction: Luton Town 2-1 Middlesbrough (Sky Bet odds: 9/1)

Best bet: Daniel Ayala to be shown a card at 11/4

Best bet: Jonathan Howson to be shown a card at 9/2

Our big season guide for the 2019/20 Sky Bet EFL campaign
Our big season guide for the 2019/20 Sky Bet EFL campaign

Opta facts

  • Luton and Middlesbrough haven’t faced in a league match since April 1995, a 2-1 win for Middlesbrough in the final ever match at Ayresome Park.
  • At Kenilworth Road, the last league meeting between Luton and Middlesbrough ended in a 5-1 victory for the Hatters in October 1994 under manager David Pleat.
  • Luton Town last started a league season at Kenilworth Road in 2017-18, when they hammered Yeovil Town 8-2 – becoming the first team to score eight goals in an opening day Football League match since Wolves in August 1962.
  • Middlesbrough have won on the opening day of a Football League season in just two of the last 18 seasons (W2 D8 L8), last winning away from home on MD1 in 2000-01 in the Premier League at Coventry City.
  • Luton Town are competing in the Championship for the first time since 2006-07 – they lost their last seven home games of that season but are currently unbeaten in 27 home league matches (W20 D7 L0) since losing 1-2 to Accrington Stanley in March 2018.
  • The last seven permanent Middlesbrough managers have all lost their first league match in charge – Steve McClaren (2001), Gareth Southgate (2006), Gordon Strachan (2009), Tony Mowbray (2010), Aitor Karanka (2013), Garry Monk (2017) and Tony Pulis (2017).

Odds correct at 1340 BST (01/08/19)

Follow Sporting Life on social media - find us on Facebook here or tweet @SportingLifeFC

Related football links

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read Football

Joelinton scores for Newcastle against Tottenham1

Joelinton lifts the Toon gloom

Joelinton's goal stunned Spurs as Newcastle lifted some of the gloom around Steve Bruce with a hard-fought 1-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Sporting Life picks out the top five events or fixtures of the week not to be missed2

Five for the week: Aug 26-Sep 1

Our 'Five for the Week' looks ahead to another exciting week of sport, including Premier League football, more top-class golf and the return of F1.

Premier League and EFL football gossip and transfer rumours3

Paper Talk: PSG target Zaha

Paris Saint-Germain are planning a shock £100m move for Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha - get all the latest from Sunday's back pages.

Raul Jimenez celebrates scoring for Wolves against Burnley at Molineux4

Raul rescues a point for Wolves

Burnley were denied an impressive win at Molineux as Raul Jimenez scored a dramatic stoppage-time penalty to give Wolves a 1-1 draw.

We celebrate the best bets that have come in over weekend5

Weekend Winners: Ebor extra strong

Two of our racing team marked the first £1million edition of the Sky Bet Ebor by tipping the winner as we close in on an almighty August. Get details in Weekend Winners.

Football Tips

Justin Thomas celebrates

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in August 2019.

All of Sporting Life's current best bets across a range of sports

Our best bets

Check out Sporting Life's best bets across racing, football and more.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package

Super Sunday: Spurs set to shine

More Premier League games on Sunday to get stuck into and we're backing Spurs to inflict more misery on Steve Bruce's Newcastle.