Blackpool’s fairytale spell in the Premier League last season was a thrilling rollercoaster ride which most lovers of attractive passing football did not want to come to an end.
Their gung-ho mentality and buccaneering attacking play rightly received plenty of plaudits, but it was an unfortunate penchant for conceding vital late goals which ultimately proved the Seasiders’ undoing in the top flight.
Fast forward a few months and that trend has been turned on its head, as their bid to return to the promised land at the first attempt is being increasingly characterised by their ability to inflict agony on their opponents in the dying stages of games.
It is this trait which should dominate punters’ minds as Ian Holloway’s men prepare to take on fellow promotion chasers West Ham this evening at Bloomfield Road.
For what it’s worth, the Seasiders have been installed as 13/10 favourites in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, with the draw priced at 11/5 and the Hammers available at odds of 2/1.
But with 38 of Blackpool’s 52 league goals thus far arriving after half-time – and an astonishing 20 being scored in the final 15 minutes of games – there is plenty of value to be found elsewhere when picking a winner looks so tough.
Last month, Blackpool found themselves a goal down at home against both Coventry and Crystal Palace before scoring twice in the final five minutes of each game to snatch maximum points.
A table based purely on home first-half performances would have Blackpool sitting 20th, with their 15 matches at Bloomfield Road yielding ten drawn opening 45-minute periods in which just nine goals have been scored.
They were at it again in their last outing on their own patch, too, as Stephen Crainey scored with a quarter of an hour remaining to secure a 1-1 draw with a battling Portsmouth side.
A table based purely on home first-half performances would have Blackpool sitting 20th, with their 15 matches at Bloomfield Road yielding ten drawn opening 45-minute periods in which just nine goals have been scored (five of them by visiting teams).
It almost goes without saying that this record is vastly improved when just the second halves of home matches are taken into account, with only Birmingham City boasting a better points total in this department.
West Ham, it should be noted, have also conceded 21 of their 31 goals after half-time and only sit eighth in a table based on second-half results on the road, despite having the best away record in the division.
Of course, the Hammers will provide a stern test for a Tangerines outfit who lost 2-0 at Everton in the FA Cup on Saturday while their latest opponents put their feet up.
However, I see no reason why Blackpool’s second-half heroics can’t continue here, especially considering they are on a seven-match unbeaten run in the Championship which has moved them to within five points of the second-placed Irons.
And despite their impressive away record, Sam Allardyce’s troops have not been without their struggles on the road of late, with just one win in their last five – a nervy 1-0 success over a Pompey team reduced to ten men.
Blackpool to win the second half looks great value at 8/5, then, while odds of 3/2 on the Seasiders scoring more goals after the interval than before it seem very generous indeed.
New customers can claim a free £25 bet for joining bwin.com and placing it on Holloway’s men doing the majority of their goalscoring in the final 45 minutes will win £62.50 if this call proves successful.
Along the same lines, backing more goals to be scored in the second half of the match than the first at 23/20 should have every chance of paying off.
West Ham, for their part, look decent at 6/5 to open the scoring, but in order to do so they must surely focus on keeping a full complement on the pitch this evening.
They have been forced to grind out results in their last two outings after Kevin Nolan and Matt Taylor were sent off early on against Millwall and Southampton respectively.
Big Sam’s boys will be buoyed by the fact that they have not lost to Blackpool in seven league matches, winning five and drawing two, including firing seven goals past them in their two most recent meetings in the past 12 months.
However, it would be wrong to read too much into that run, as it stretches all the way back to March 1966, when they were beaten 2-1 at Bloomfield Road.
More pertinently, they will be encouraged by Blackpool’s poor defending of set-pieces at Goodison Park as this is something Allardyce’s teams – one of which, of course, was the Tangerines for two seasons in the mid-1990s – have traditionally been able to exploit.
The Hammers should be good for at least one goal (as they have been in all but three of their Championship away games thus far), so backing both teams to score at 18/25 looks a decent short-priced play.
But if you have a suspicion that Blackpool may come out on top, focus on the half-time/full-time market to enhance your potential returns on a home success.
Ignore the Blackpool/Blackpool selection – West Ham have been ahead at half-time in seven of their 15 away matches and Holloway’s men have been leading just twice at the break at Bloomfield Road – and back either Draw/Blackpool or West Ham/Blackpool.
The first is available at 19/4 and has been the case in six of the Seasiders’ last 20 matches, while the second looks a brilliant long shot at 28/1, considering all the statistics mentioned already here.
But whoever you fancy to grab a win, there appears to be plenty of viable odds-against options outside the 3Way market for shrewd punters armed with the necessary data.
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