The Sky Bet EFL continues this week with plenty of games taking place. Tom Carnduff picks out his best bets from the three leagues.
For advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
Preston v Bristol City
Two play-off hopefuls meet at Deepdale, a sentence that most Preston fans probably wouldn't have expected to read during the first-half of the season.
A strong January window has played a part in North End rising up the table. They've been transformed from relegation candidates to promotion outsiders under Alex Neil in recent weeks and are one of the division's form sides.
A stand-out player in that side is Sean Maguire. The forward has seen a limited amount of playing time through injury this season but has played a significant part during their upturn in results.
Maguire has contributed two goals in Preston's last two wins, while also having an assist in each of their two wins before that.
What is of interest is how those two goals came when he was moved to a striker role, as opposed to playing out on the wing. He's played there in their last four games and that should continue with the side winning.
Bristol City enjoyed a wonderful winning run throughout December and January which fired them into the play-offs. However, three consecutive defeats, two of which have been in the league, have seen their form hit a bump in the road.
Luckily for them, Derby haven't provided much of a challenge either during that time and they've still managed to hold top-spot. It has allowed Middlesbrough to move four points clear in fifth.
I'd back Preston to continue that miserable run for the Robins. Yes, runs must come to an end but I've been so impressed with North End's efforts in their previous games.
I had them as an outsider for the play-offs when this run started in January and I'm maintaining it now. Preston are a side capable of stealing the final play-off spot under the radar in the final weeks.
Best bet: Sean Maguire to score anytime at 13/5
- Preston are unbeaten in their last 11 league games against Bristol City (W8 D3), winning each of the last six in a row.
- Bristol City haven’t won away at Preston in league competition since February 2011 (4-0), failing to win on each of their five such trips since (D2 L3).
- Preston are unbeaten in eight Championship matches (W5 D3 L0), the longest current run in the division.
- Bristol City have lost each of their last two Championship matches since winning seven in a row between December and February.
- Since his league debut for the club in November 2013, Paul Gallagher has assisted 53 league goals for Preston – 36 more than any other player in that time.
- Bristol City manager Lee Johnson has lost nine matches against Preston North End in all competitions – three more than he’s ever lost against any other side during his managerial career.
Southend v Barnsley
Quick heads up, this is an early kick-off with the game taking place at 12:30pm, live in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Barnsley have, as expected, been one of the eye-catching sides in Sky Bet League One. They sit second in the standings, two points clear of third-placed Sunderland and five behind league leaders Luton.
They have the opportunity to close the gap here, and should do against a Southend side who are comfortably in mid-table. They won't go up this season but they shouldn't fear relegation trouble either.
The Tykes' recent away record also puts them in a strong position here. They're unbeaten in their last six on the road, giving them the fifth-best away record in England's third tier.
They've also scored the second-highest amount of goals away from home too with 38, while conceding more than the likes of Fleetwood, Luton and Sunderland.
Recent away games have been full of goals too. They did draw 0-0 away at Portsmouth last time in a tight game between two promotion contenders, but they saw at least four goals in their three away games prior to that.
Combine that with the fact that Southend have had at least three goals in three of their last four home games and everything points towards goals here.
The Shrimpers' home form has left a lot to be desired too. They've lost more games than they have won at Roots Hall this season and three of their last four there have ended in defeat.
Most firms offer above 4/1 on a Barnsley win and over 3.5 goals in the match. They are a side certainly capable of goals and they know that victory is key given Sunderland's game in-hand.
- Southend have won two of their last three league games against Barnsley (L1), as many as they had in the previous 13 combined (W2 D5 L6).
- Barnsley lost their most recent league trip to Roots Hall (1-2) – they haven’t lost consecutive away league games at Southend since December 1992.
- Southend have failed to win any of their last six League One games (D3 L3) – they last went longer without a league victory in September 2017 (run of seven).
- Despite drawing each of their last two games, Barnsley are unbeaten in League One since a 0-1 defeat against Wycombe back in December (P14 W9 D5 L0 since) – only Luton Town (21 games) are currently on a longer unbeaten run than Barnsley across the top four tiers of English Football.
- Barnsley’s Cauley Woodrow has scored six league goals in 2019, including four in his last four – only Luton’s James Collin’s (nine) has scored more goals in League One since the turn of the year.
Bristol Rovers v Blackpool
Finally, after years on a downward spiral, there's a real feel of optimism around Blackpool Football Club.
A change in ownership, alongside the club overturning any previous bans from Bloomfield Road signals that the club are looking to finally unite the fan base as they aim to climb back up the football hierarchy.
On the pitch, despite everything happening off it, Terry McPhillips is surely a contender for Manager of the Season as he keeps the Seasiders within touching distance of the play-offs.
Considering Gary Bowyer departed after one game and he was expected to come in and steady the ship, his achievements this season stand-out regardless of whether or not they make the top-six.
They travel to Bristol Rovers this weekend. Blackpool were beaten by Oxford last time out, but they managed to pick up points against Charlton and Sunderland in the weeks before.
McPhillips' side also managed to secure away wins at Coventry and Portsmouth in January, that sees them boast an away record that sits in the division's top-nine.
A stand out part of their away games is that they are often low-scoring affairs. Only AFC Wimbledon can match the low tally of 13 goals scored on the road, equally though, the 13 goals they have conceded gives them the best away record.
A price of 4/1 is available on an away win to nil, but we're going to go with the safety net of just a Blackpool win at a tempting price of 11/5. This game signals the start of a new era at the club, and one they will want to grab all three points on offer.
Best bet: Blackpool to win at 11/5
- Bristol Rovers have only lost one of their last six league games against Blackpool (W4 D1), with their only defeat coming back in April 2000 (1-2).
- Blackpool have lost their last two away league games at Bristol Rovers – they’ve never previously lost on three successive league trips there.
- Bristol Rovers have won just one of their last eight league games (D5 L2), a 2-1 victory against Southend in February.
- Blackpool have failed to score in back-to-back league games (against Charlton and Oxford) – they last failed to score in three consecutive games in January 2018.
- Bristol Rovers have the lowest shot conversion rate in League One (7.75%), scoring just 31 of their 400 attempts on goal.
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Odds correct as of 1745 GMT on 28/02/19. Links automatically add selection to your Sky Bet betslip.