Nick Hext has found four winning play-off tips in a row and is expecting a tight encounter between Bradford and Millwall at Wembley on Saturday.
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Bradford City v Millwall (1500 BST, Sky Sports 1)
There isn’t much in the odds for Saturday’s Sky Bet League One play-off final between Bradford and Millwall at Wembley.
Bradford are narrow 10/11 favourites to win promotion (with the option of victory via extra-time or penalties included) with Millwall just a touch bigger in price at even-money.
Like the layers, I’m finding it tough to pick a winner. I’d just about side with Bradford if forced but there are better ways to secure a profit in the final.
Going low on goals is a temptation but the bookies have that pretty well covered. Under 2.5 is a big odds-on shot and the potential for this match to unravel in the latter stages if one team is chasing the game is enough to put me off going any lower than that.
I’m instead finding myself scouring the odds concerning a quiet first half - at least in terms of goalmouth action.
A goalless opening 45 minutes at 17/11 (around 6/4 in old money) is worth consideration but I’m going to play it a little safer and back the draw at the break at just upwards of evens.
Bradford were level at half-time with Fleetwood in both legs of their play-off semi-final and the last clash between the Bantams and the Lions, which finished 1-1 in January, was also all-square after 45 minutes.
Millwall were drawing 1-1 with Scunthorpe at half-time in the second leg of their play-off semi-final and the opening encounter finished without a goal for either side.
I also think Millwall will be wary after the manner of their defeat in last season’s League One play-off final.
The Lions were 2-0 down to Barnsley inside 20 minutes and there was no way back from that as they ultimately went down 3-1.
Millwall boss Neil Harris will take being level at half-time to avoid the final being out of sight for the second year running and Bradford aren’t the quickest starters in the division.
The Bantams have only scored more than one goal in the first half in one their last eight matches and Stuart McCall’s style will see the Yorkshire club keep things tight as they wait for opportunities later in proceedings.
I think Bradford have the edge in quality to just about get over the line but there is very little between the teams so keep an eye as well on the chances of extra-time and penalties as the minutes tick by.
Prediction: Bradford City 1-0 Millwall
These two sides met in the League One play-off semi-finals last year. Millwall won 3-1 at Bradford and drew 1-1 at the Den, before losing to Barnsley in the final at Wembley.
Millwall’s Lee Gregory has scored in each of his last three matches in all competitions against the Bantams, including a goal in each leg of the play-off semi-finals last season.
Indeed, Gregory also scored in the Lions’ 3-2 play-off semi-final win over Scunthorpe this season, with strike partner Steve Morison netting the other two.
Bradford finished fifth in League One. The last side to finish fifth in League One and reach the play-off final were Swindon Town in 2010; they lost 1-0 to Millwall in the final. Millwall have now reached the final in each of their last four play-off campaigns; 2009 (L), 2010 (W), 2016 (L).
Bradford have won promotion on both occasions they have made the play-off final in any tier; winning 2-0 vs Notts County in 1996 and winning 3-0 vs Northampton in 2013.
The team finishing fifth hasn’t won the League One play-offs since 2005/06, when Barnsley secured promotion to the Championship against Swansea City.
The team in sixth place won the League One play-offs last term (Barnsley); the last time the sixth-placed team won the third-tier play-offs in consecutive seasons was back in 1997 (Bradford in 95/96 & Crewe 96/97).
The Bantams have lost just one of their last nine matches in all competitions against Millwall, although they’ve won just twice (W2 D6 L1).
Since his debut for the club in February, Charlie Wyke (10) has been directly involved in more goals in all competitions than any other Bradford player (seven goals, three assists).
Posted at 1000 BST on 18/05/17.