Middlesbrough play in front of their own fans for the first time in a fortnight on Friday and the Riverside crowd will be expecting to see three more points gained at Sheffield Wednesday’s expense.
It is over three years now since Middlesbrough saw their 11-year stay in the Premier League come to an end and until now they have not come close to making a return to the top flight.
Three seasons in the Championship have failed to produce a single top-six finish, but thanks to astute signings such as on-loan Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran and Jonathan Woodgate, boss Tony Mowbray appears to have built a squad capable of achieving promotion.
The signs so far for Boro are extremely positive as they are in the midst of an unbeaten run that has seen them move up to second in the table, just one point off leaders Crystal Palace. That run was extended to eight games in all competitions on Tuesday as they secured a point at Nottingham Forest in a 0-0 draw.
Prior to that stalemate, they had won six on the bounce – form that merits odds of 83/100 on them defeating the Owls this evening, while the draw is at 23/10 and Wednesday at 333/100 to cause a shock and produce only their second away win of the campaign.
Wednesday have been so underwhelming on the road that their solitary win was against rock-bottom Ipswich Town, whose home record is appalling. Nevertheless, that win over the Tractor Boys, coupled with three more points a week later against another side in the relegation zone, Peterborough, have moved the Owls three points clear of the dreaded drop zone.
These wins were the first the club had managed since August and were well timed considering Dave Jones’ team are set to take on three of the top six in the coming weeks, including Middlesbrough, who have beaten Wednesday in the past three encounters.
When the two sides clash for the first time this season at the Riverside, it is pretty likely that the fans will see plenty of goals as both sides have been involved in ten games each that have seen over 2.5 goals scored and the odds on this happening again are 3/4.
Both Boro and Wednesday also have far better goal ratios in the second half of games, so 23/20 on more goals to be scored after the interval than before it looks a decent price if you fancy this trend to continue.
In fairness, it is no great surprise that Wednesday score more after half-time on the road given that their first-half record when playing away from home is awful.
They have lost six of seven first halves on the road with a -5 goal difference and sit bottom of a Championship table based purely on performances in the opening 45 minutes of away games.
With that in mind, a price of 13/10 on Middlesbrough to lead at the interval looks far too good to miss, with winnings of £46 on offer for punters backing it with their free £20 bet after registering with bwin.
And if you think Boro will ultimately pick up all three points, it therefore makes sense to swerve their odds-on 3Way quote and instead get stuck into the 9/5 on them being ahead at both half-time and full-time.