Mark O’Haire’s Football Tips – Brighton v Sheffield WednesdayStats
Brighton v Sheff Wednesday
Football can be a cruel mistress and no supporters will be whinging about their number one love more than Brighton’s.
Brighton v Sheffield Wednesday, Monday 16th May 2016, 19.45, Sky Sports 1
Missing out on automatic promotion due to an inferior goal difference, the Seagulls suffered a very real Friday the 13th nightmare when they travelled to Hillsborough for the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final.
Everything that could go wrong did for Chris Hughton’s charges who lost four players to injury over the course of their 2-0 defeat, playing the final 30 minutes with 10 men. What began as a containment exercise turned into a damage limitation examination.
Centre-half Connor Goldson, top-scorer Tomer Hemed, midfielder Steve Sidwell and wideman wizard Anthony Knockaert are now all highly unlikely to be fit for the return fixture on Monday night leaving Brighton without 10 first-team players.
Considering no side in Championship play-off history has overturned a two-goal deficit after the first leg to reach Wembley and with Hughton’s troops claiming only six of their 24 regular season victories by that margin, their task looks mighty tough.
Centre-back Lewis Dunk does return to the fold but without four of the Seasiders’ most dependable players down the spine of the side, a heroic comeback makes little appeal, especially at 9/2 in the To Qualify market.
Still, you wouldn’t bet against the Seagulls giving it a right good go. It’s been easily forgotten that Brighton caused the Owls problems from set-plays – Hemed hitting a post on one occasion – and in James Wilson, Jamie Murphy and Kazenga Lua-Lua, the hosts have players capable of stretching and hurting Wednesday.
Having tallied an impressive 15 wins from 23 Amex outings this term, the home side have the potential to open this tie up. You certainly wouldn’t bet against Brighton scoring and should the Seagulls grab the first goal, this tie could really liven up.
For the record, Sheffield Wednesday have suffered just four losses by a two-goal margin under Carlos Carvalhal but three of those did come on the road whilst both Burnley and Middlesbrough dispatched the visitors by scorelines that would bring extra-time. However, both those defeats to the top-two came back in the summer of 2015.
Wednesday produced a polished and slick attacking performance at Hillsborough and although the visitors’ preference is for controlling possession football, you get the impression they’ll be happy to play on the counter-attack here.
Friday night’s triumph was Wednesday’s first against a top-six side this season (W1-D7-L3) and although their away record (W6-D9-L8) doesn’t exactly standout from the crowd, Carvalhal’s troops have the quality to pack a punch when it matters and you wouldn’t rule the guests out grabbing a goal.
The Owls have scored in 10 of their last 11 fixtures and whilst they failed to twist the knife in the first leg they most definitely did turn up for their biggest match in 16 years. Whether they decide to stick or twist here, they’ll be well aware how fragile the current scoreline can be so they’d be foolish to shut up shop.
Bets, Bets, Bets
So considering the landscape, I’m surprised to see Over 2.5 Goals offered at odds as big as 11/10. With Brighton chucking men forward in a desperate attempt to find an avenue back into the tie and Wednesday ready to exploit the spaces on the counter-attack, surely we’ll see a couple of goals here?
The Over 2.5 Goals approach has proven profitable in eight of the last 10 Championship play-off second legs with the average total goals over those 10 tussles a bulky 3.40 per-game.
Over 3.5 Goals banked in half of those fixtures.
If we go back further, 16/30 (53%) of second leg matches featured three or more goals giving us both short and long-term backing to support Over 2.5 Goals. Therefore, I’m happy to make it my main and major play for Monday night.
Over 2.5 Goals (11/10)
*Prices correct at time of publication