Oxford boss Karl Robinson and Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton.
Oxford boss Karl Robinson and Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton.

League One and League Two promotion tips: MK Dons, Ipswich, Oxford, Bristol Rovers

With the League One and Two run-ins upon us, Michael Beardmore picks out some value bets in the promotion and play-off markets.

Football betting tips: League One and League Two

0.5pts MK Dons to win League One at 14/1 (General)

1pt Oxford United to be promoted from League One at 11/2 (General)

0.5pt Ipswich to make the League One play-offs (top-six finish) at 14/1 (Bet365, Betfred)

1.5pts Bristol Rovers to win automatic promotion from League Two at 5/1 (General)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

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Who will win the League One title?

While it would be foolish to completely discount fourth-placed Plymouth, the battle for the Sky Bet League One title appears to be down to a three-horse race.

WIGAN, a point behind leaders Rotherham with two games in hand, are the rightful favourites to be crowned champions after such a consistent season.

Given they have by far the easiest run-in of the top three – not facing any team in the top eight – the Latics are, without doubt, the most likely team to finish top of the pile.

But at 4/6 top price, and with nine games to fit in 28 days during April, they are not the most attractive prospect from a value point of view.

The form of ROTHERHAM, however, is a concern for anyone considering backing the Millers as an alternative – they have won one in five to hand the title race initiative to Wigan.

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Stunned 3-0 at home by Shrewsbury last time out, the international break may aid Paul Warne’s men, but their run-in, facing four of the top 10 in their final six games, means they are tough to back with conviction, even at 13/8.

Instead, if you want an interest in this market, third-placed MK DONS look the best value of the three at 14/1 with many firms. Boasting a 12-game unbeaten run, they are just four points off top spot, albeit with an inferior goal difference.

Nonetheless, they face three of the bottom nine next up – win those and the 14s will come tumbling. It could pay to side with MK should Rotherham continue to fade and Wigan begin to tire.

Of course, those of you who heeded our advice to back Dons for both the title and promotion at the start of the season can sit back and keep those tickets safe.

Plymouth (100s) are the only other realistic contender, just two points back from MK, but face five of the top eight in the run-in. Worth a quid? At 100/1, why not? They are also 16s to go up automatically if you fancy the Pilgrims to haul in two, but not three, of the sides above them.


Who will be promoted from League One?

Taking Infogol's expected goals (xG) data into account, Rotherham are the third tier’s best side. Behind them in second? Wigan? MK Dons? Plymouth? No, none of the above.

Step forward OXFORD UNITED, who have gone under the radar all season, yet been almost ever-present in the top six.

Karl Robinson’s U’s have been knocking on the doors for two seasons now – losing in the play-off semis last term and the final the year before.

They face different challenges in their run-in of four top-six sides and three teams battling relegation but, barring a disaster, they should make the top six and odds of 11/2 on an Oxford promotion look appealing.

Two sides below them, SUNDERLAND and SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY, are shorter odds to go up at 5/1 and 10/3 respectively.

Neither have easy run-ins and the Owls’ price seems incredibly short given they can only finish in the play-offs at best – Plymouth, by contrast, are nailed on for the top six yet 4/1 to go up.

WYCOMBE – top price 12s to go up – have a decent run-in, facing just two top-half teams, but a run of just three wins in 12 games suggests they are the outsiders of the top eight for a reason.

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Dark horses to make League One play-offs?

The battle for the top six should be between those eight sides we’ve already mentioned. Only three other clubs – IPSWICH, PORTSMOUTH and BOLTON have any chance of breaking in.

Bolton, nine points off sixth place, should be too far back and face Wigan, Portsmouth and Wednesday in their next three, while Pompey’s underlying metrics (Infogol’s xG model puts them 12th) suggest they are not good enough to make up an eight-point deficit.

Ipswich, however, are a different kettle of fish entirely. The Tractor Boys have been excellent since Kieran McKenna took over as manager, losing just twice in 17 games.

And, importantly, their processes have been impressive over the entire season – they sit third in the xP (expected points) table. At 14/1, they are worth a look to make the top six – albeit they must face top two Wigan and Rotherham in the run-in.

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Who will be promoted from League Two?

The fourth tier promotion race is even more wide open – before the weekend’s fixtures, just six points separated second place from 10th.

Leaders Forest Green have been so superior all season that they remain well clear of the chasing pack – and with games in hand – despite winning just one of their last eight.

Even if they don’t win the title, they’re up, as odds of 1/250 confirm. But the other two automatic promotion places? Up for grabs doesn’t even begin to describe it.

With so many of the other top 10 still to play each other, predicting who makes the top three or seven is a lottery but there is one absolutely standout price in the markets.

Joey Barton’s BRISTOL ROVERS are on an absolute tear, eight wins in their past 10 pushing them to the brink of the top three.

Yet, across the board they are eighth favourites for automatic promotion and that assessment is just plain wrong – prices of 5/1 on a team sitting fourth, outside the top three on goal difference alone, have to be snapped up.

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