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Free football betting preview: Sky Bet EFL play-offs on Saturday

Last Updated May 12 2018, 18:24Football
Coventry City's Marc McNulty
Coventry City's Marc McNulty

Saturday sees a bumper four Sky Bet EFL play-off clashes and Nick Hext called the first of them perfectly. Check out our team's best bets.

Saturday's Sky Bet EFL recommended bets

1pt Scunthorpe to draw with Rotherham at 23/10

1pt Jayden Stockley to score anytime in Lincoln v Exeter at 21/10

1pt Daniel Ayala to score anytime in Middlesbrough v Aston Villa at 6/1

1pt Coventry City to win and over 3.5 goals in the match at 13/2

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

READ: Sky Bet EFL play-offs: the big guide and preview for the three divisions


Scunthorpe United v Rotherham United (Sky Bet League One, Sky Sports Main Event, 1230 BST)

A blockbuster day of Sky Bet EFL play-off action gets started with the first leg of the Sky Bet League One semi-final between Scunthorpe and Rotherham.

I don't envisage a winner in this opening contest at Glanford Park and I'm happy to take a slice of the 23/10 available for the draw.

Rotherham were near-certainties for the play-offs for a good few months and that showed in their form tailing off since the start of March. Five wins, two draws and five defeats for the Millers followed on from 10 victories and two draws in the 12 matches prior to that run.

Scunthorpe picked up at the end of the campaign to make sure of a fifth-placed finish. Nick Daws surprisingly replaced Graham Alexander as manager and an unbeaten stretch of eight matches held off the sides below them.

The Iron have been draw specialists this season - a total of 17 is the joint-second highest in the division alongside Oldham, Gillingham and Doncaster. Rochdale lead the way with 18 draws to just about keep themselves in League One for another campaign.

Scunthorpe have finished with a 1-1 scoreline for their last four draws and that's my verdict for this first leg.

All of the eight matches in the Iron's unbeaten run to end the campaign ended with under 2.5 goals and that's a logical odds-on suggestion if after a shorter price.

Rotherham are my pick to come through this tie but I expect the action to happen in the return contest.

Score prediction: Scunthorpe 1-1 Rotherham (Sky Bet odds: 9/2) (Nick Hext)

Best bet: Scunthorpe to draw with Rotherham at 23/10

Alternative bet: Under 2.5 goals at 10/13

Jayden Stockley will be looking to fire Exeter to Wembley glory
Jayden Stockley will be looking to fire Exeter to Wembley glory

Lincoln City v Exeter City (Sky Bet League Two, Sky Sports Main Event, 1500 BST)

Often seen as the most open play-offs of the three divisions, Lincoln take on Exeter to kick things off in Sky Bet League Two.

Lincoln are fancied by many to progress to the league above, but I'd be backing Exeter to pick up the draw when they visit Sincil Bank.

The Imps managed to secure seventh spot on the final day, whilst Exeter's fourth-placed finish saw them narrowly miss out on automatic promotion.

A concern for Paul Tisdale's men will be their away form, losing two of their last five outside of St James Park. That said though, they were able to pick up points against Accrington, Cambridge and Port Vale in that run.

Lincoln have been decent in front of their home fans this season sitting as the fifth-best side in League Two. They know the importance of a home victory but Exeter will be keen to avoid taking a deficit into the second leg.

Danny Cowley's Lincoln were experts in picking up a point during the regular season, drawing more games than any other team in the top seven.

Whilst Exeter have only drawn eight games this season, they had the same amount of draws when they were involved in the play-offs last year and ended up with a 3-3 scoreline when they visited Carlisle in their play-off first-leg match-up.

Jayden Stockley has been the main man for the visitors with 22 goals this season. The 24-year-old has benefited massively from a steady period following his appearances for ten different clubs since 2010.

He's also in a good run of form, having struck seven goals in his last nine appearances for the club. With that in mind, 21/10 seems terrific value on him to strike anytime on Saturday, especially as he has three goals in his last four away games.

I'd imagine this could be a clash of the home legs, with Exeter appealing at 5/4 to make it to the Wembley showpiece final.

Score prediction: Lincoln 1-1 Exeter (Sky Bet odds: 11/2) (Tom Carnduff)

Best bet: Jayden Stockley to score anytime at 21/10

Alternative bet: Lincoln to draw with Exeter at 13/5

Middlesbrough v Aston Villa (Sky Bet Championship, Sky Sports Main Event, 1715 BST)

The mouth-watering Sky Bet Championship play-offs continue in the evening as Middlesbrough welcome Aston Villa to the Riverside.

These two sides have already played each other three times this season, with a win apiece and a draw showing how equally matched they are.

Tony Pulis will be happy with Middlesbrough's recent form and I think that 7/5 looks great value on them getting a first-leg victory.

Boro have won seven of their last eight games in front of their own fans, whilst Villa have picked up just one victory in their last five away.

Middlesbrough also come into the play-offs as one of the division's form teams, remaining unbeaten in four and losing just two of their last 14 games in the Championship.

In contrast, Villa have lost four of their last ten, a concern being that three of those were away from home.

Patrick Bamford has found his goalscoring boots in the second half of the season and has struck ten goals in his last 13 appearances for Middlesbrough.

He's rivalling the talented Britt Assombalonga for a spot in the side though and his playing time has been limited in recent weeks.

That said, he did come off the bench against Ipswich and net a late equaliser, a point which moved Middlesbrough into fifth and setting up a meeting with Aston Villa.

He can be found at 2/1 to strike anytime for Middlesbrough on Saturday, with 5/2 available on him to score anytime with Middlesbrough to win the match.

I'm tempted by value in backing Daniel Ayala to score though. Despite being a centre-back, he is the club's third top scorer with seven goals this season. Set-pieces could be key in this tie which presents Ayala with opportunity to add to his tally.

His aerial presence could be problematic for the Villa defence, and the 6/1 price available on him to score seems very tempting to me given the circumstances.

Middlesbrough are 6/5 to make the final, which for me looks good value.

Score prediction: Middlesbrough 2-1 Aston Villa (Sky Bet odds: 10/1) (Tom Carnduff)

Best bet: Daniel Ayala to score anytime at 6/1

Alternative bet: Middlesbrough to win and over 2.5 goals at 18/5

Coventry City v Notts County (Sky Bet League Two, Sky Sports Football, 1930 BST)

Saturday's action concludes in the East Midlands and it has the potential to be an entertaining, high-scoring affair.

Four of the last five games at the Ricoh Arena have seen four or more goals, and 10/3 on over 3.5 goals in this one looks tempting enough on the track record.

Add in the fact that four of Notts County's last five away has had over 2.5 goals, with two of those games having four or more, and it's clear to see why that looks a good price.

Coventry's home form has been hit and miss in recent weeks, but they have shown they are more than capable of securing a result in front of their own supporters.

They may have had a shock 6-2 defeat to Yeovil in April, but they won by significant margins against Grimsby and Stevenage either side of that whilst they also wrapped up a 3-0 win over Notts County in their first meeting this season.

On the contrast, the Magpies have managed to win just two of their last 11 away in all competitions, and that is reflected in their 16/5 price to secure victory in the first leg.

Marc McNulty has been in exceptional form for the hosts this season with 23 goals and six assists. Coventry will be looking to him as someone who can be the difference between these two sides.

The 25-year-old is best-priced at 11/10 to score anytime against Notts, which is little surprise given his recent track record for the Sky Blues.

There is great value in backing a Coventry victory with goals, and 13/2 on them to win with over 3.5 goals in the match would be my best bet for this encounter.

I'd also be looking at Coventry to make Wembley, and a commanding lead heading into the second-leg will put them in a massive step in the right direction.

Score prediction: Coventry 3-1 Notts County (Sky Bet odds: 18/1) (Tom Carnduff)

Best bet: Coventry City to win and over 3.5 goals in the match at 13/2

Alternative bet: Over 3.5 goals at 10/3


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Preview posted at 1415 BST (11/05/18)

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