Having seen his Cardiff City side climb back to the Championship summit last weekend, Malky Mackay would have been hoping for a midweek home game against struggling opponents to help solidify top spot.
However, the fixture computer seems to have other ideas as the Bluebirds are forced to follow their tricky trip to Barnsley with an even tougher challenge in the shape of facing Derby County at Pride Park.
The Rams have lost just once on their own patch this season and head into this game on the back of a thrilling 3-2 home win over Midlands rivals Birmingham City at the weekend.
But having re-assumed their position at the top of the table, Cardiff are slight favourites at 6/4 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, with the home side 17/10 outsiders and the draw available at 11/5.
The Rams have stormed to most of their home wins as a result of their impressive scoring form, which has seen them hit 26 goals in 10 matches in all competitions at Pride Park this term.
However, they also concede at a fair rate, averaging 1.78 per game, and with Cardiff opening the scoring in 77% of their games, it’s worth backing the visitors to break the deadlock this evening at 19/20.
But considering the fact that Cardiff have often blown first-half leads, including in recent games at Bolton and Charlton, I’m backing Derby to claim a point despite trailing at the interval at an inviting price of 12/1.
New customers using the free £20 bet they receive when registering with bwin would win £260 if it’s a draw at full-time after Cardiff lead at the half-time whistle.
Alternatively, punters could play it safer by plumping for lead-draw in the run of play market at 29/10, which removes the half-time/full-time element and also covers the reverse scenario of Cardiff nicking a point after Derby open the scoring.
If you’re looking for a shorter-priced option, over 2.5 goals in the game looks as close to a banker as you will find this evening at 39/50, and not just because seven of the last ten meetings between the sides have ticked this particular box.
Cardiff have been involved in 14 games of three goals or more this season – a higher total than any other side in the division – while six of Derby’s nine home fixtures in the Championship have also featured over 2.5 goals.